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Folk arts & struggles for citizenship

Apr 02, 2015

The performers of such art are ordinary citizens; they are farmers, agricultural labourers, school and college going student write Martha Farrell & Rajesh Tandon.

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New Delhi: Every wedding, festival and celebration in much of urban and rural India today brings Bollywood music and dance, with the help of new age animators called ‘DJs’. It was, therefore, a pleasant surprise to join the celebration of folk art, music and dance of Bundelkhand region last week in Chitrakut. ‘Lok Laya 2015’ is the fifth annual gathering of nearly 200 plus folk artists from nearly a dozen districts of the Bundelkhand region (spanning both MP & UP).

Young and old, boys and girls, teachers and disciples—all performed with zest, passion and energy multiple traditional forms of local music and dance.

Several hundred citizens of Chitrakut area enjoyed this rare and colourful display of folk art and culture. In the din of Bollywood DJs, such music and dance is rapidly disappearing. With it is disappearing the pride, joy and identity of these people of Bundelkhand—Kol tribals of Patha, Gond tribals of the Vindhyas, Bhil tribals of Jhabua district, Baiga tribes of Mandla or Balaghat district and more.

The performers of such art are ordinary citizens; they are farmers, agricultural labourers, school and college going students, teachers in local schools, small shop-keepers, elected panchayat leaders, etc etc. Most have never been to an art academy; most sing and dance around their own communities; the local seasons, festivals and traditions are the occasions for community perfromances.

The messages enshrined in these songs and dances are uniquely local; they describe the daily struggles of life in difficult habitations; they invoke the mythology of ‘Ramayana’ and its narrator Tulsidas in several of their compositions. The ‘Lok Laya’ festival began on the first day of the New Year—Samvat 2072 (March 22).

Martha Farrell & Rajesh Tandon  are attached to Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA).

 

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