Dalits decry death of their old dance forms
ALLAHABAD: After raising the pitch for Dalit theatre, Dalit activists have sought government recognition for dying traditional dance forms of Chamar, Pasi and Kahar communities and have written to the Union ministry of culture to “save these art forms from slow death”.
There are no takers for the dance forms that found mention in 800-year-old Sanskrit literary work of Vidyapati and in poems of legendary poet Sumitranandan Pant. Some of the art forms have only one or two performers across the eastern-UP and they too are unable to perform due to the old age, said an activist Rambrij Gautam. He added that such traditional dances should be recognized by the government as ‘folk art forms’.
“The artistes are dying a slow and silent death. Octogenarian Sarju Bhagat, who died recently, was among half-a-dozen active exponent of folk art ‘Karinga’. The remaining five too are living in penury, unrecognized and neglected by cultural centres of the Central and state governments,” said Rambrij.
He said folk dance of Chamars were usually referred to as ‘Chamarua’, Pasi’s as ‘Pasiua’ and Kahar’s as ‘Kaharua’.
An alumnus of Campus Theatre, Rambrij began his acting career with plays, ‘Beast on the Moon’ and ‘Fences’ in late eighties. His works in slums and his artistes are mostly from the backward community kids.
Another activist, R A Ahirwar said, “Only ‘Nachna’ dance form prevalent among dhobis (washermen) has been recognized as folk art form. Dance forms of lower castes are usually performed in the night mostly during marriage and birth ceremonies. These dance forms usually highlight social stigmas prevalent in the society.”
Commenting on the state of affairs, Indian Folk Art Federation’s artiste and chairperson Atul Yaduvanshi lamented the neglect of folk art forms.
“It is a sorry state of affairs. Art forms are dying. It is the responsibility of the state and Central governments to preserve and propagate them. The cultural centres usually promote colourful folk arts with a glamour element. I think it is time to change the perception or else we will be bereft of our cultural and tradition.”