The kanjira is a small handheld drum that resembles a tambourine. It consists of a circular wooden frame of jack wood, with a diameter of seven to eight inches and depth of approximately two inches. One face of the frame is stretched over with a thin layer of leather. The drum is usually held in the left hand and played by striking the leather face with the fingers of the right. A couple of small metal discs are attached to the frame.
Carnatic musicians often use multiple percussion instruments as accompaniment in a concert. While the mridangam is the most popular instrument for accompaniment, the smaller kanjira is a very versatile instrument that is used as the secondary percussion accompaniment