National Tribal Dance Festival 2019

Featured

India’s diverse tribal culture was on display at this festival.  This was only a fraction of rich tribal presence across the country. Over 1350  artists from 25 states participated in this 3 day festival in the city of Raipur in Chattisgarh. From the village square to an urban stage, it must have been a huge shift for the artists, but a smogasbord of colourful delight under one-roof for the atendees. I have been planning to visit these tribal communities in their villages to catch them perform in their natural settings, but for now, happy watched them under city-lights !

Slides below –

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Videos –

 

 

 

 

More than five dozen tribal communities reside in Odisha. Duruva tribe lives in Koraput district.

Koya share similarities with the Dandami maria of Chattisgarh. Their dance is called Kummu Koya dance

Above dance is also known as Bison-horn-dance for the headgear made of bison-horns, feather and cowrie shells

Siddi tribes trace their roots to the Bantu community of Africa. They inhabit the western states of India. They are said to have been brought to India by the Portuguese and the Arab traders.  They perform this dance in worship of their deity Babagore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bot or Boto people of Ladakh perform the above

Thaiyyam is a highly elaborate ritualistic dance of the Malabar region of Kerala. It is mainly held in temple surroundings. It is mostly performed by the Adiya community.

 

 

 

Todas live in settlements on the slopes of Nilgiri mountains. The settlements are called Mund. 5 to 7 houses in each Mund. The half-barrel shaped traditional houses are built from grass, bamboo and cane. They are of only 3000 in numbers. Their shawl called puthkuli has extensive embroidery work by their women.

 

Singari is performed by the Kutia Kandha tribe of Odisha

 

 

Tadapa is made of Bamboo and palm leaves.

Sharq Taronalari on the Silk-road

Featured

DSCN3080

Words like silk-road and Samarkand had always conjured up a sense of antiquity in my mind and many a time have I seen the picture of a beautiful standing structure that almost looked like Taj Mahal, not knowing it was called Registan Square. I have been wanting to travel there one day and what better time to do it than Sharq Taronalari, a music festival that I heard about only a few years ago. The 5-day biennale of traditional Asian music is being organised at the Registan Square in Samarkand since 1997. And the city of Samarkand is under the UNESCO world heritage list.

20190826_164203

 

 

 

2019 festival featured artists from 31 countries. The performances were evaluated by a jury consisting of musicologists and composers from different countries. On the closing day, awards were presented to the winners under various categories for three places besides a Grand-Prix winner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Museums, handicraft centres and hotels in Samarkand hosted exhibitions that presented the history of the festival in photographs, products of national handicrafts and musical instruments. Within the framework of the festival, an international academic and practical conference entitled “Prospects for the development of traditional musical art of the peoples of the East” was held during the day. Musicologists from more than 10 countries did the presentations while the musical performances were slated for the evenings.

The closing ceremony saw hundreds of local musicians and dancers perform at the sprawling square with the Registan madrasas as the backdrop.

Teams from Tajikistan (the “Badakhshan” collective) and from Russia (the “Ayarkhan” collective), as well as representatives of Uzbekistan – Azizjon Abduazimov and Ulugbek Elmurodzoda, were awarded third place diplomas, a cash prize of 2 thousand USD and gifts.
The second place was awarded to “Archabil” from Turkmenistan and “Hatan” from Mongolia. They were awarded a cash prize of 3.5 thousand US dollars, diplomas and gifts.
The duo Komuzchilar from Kyrgyzstan and Parviz Gasimov from Azerbaijan won the first place and received a cash prize of 5 thousand US dollars, diplomas and souvenirs.
By decision of the jury, Uzbekistan’s Mekhrinigor Abdurashidova was awarded the Grand Prix of the XII Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival.

 

Mali – Encore

Featured

Guess the title is apt for a country that’s known more for its music than any other. Though music was indeed the reason that drew me to Mali some 30 years ago, the interest has since then stretched out to other entities such as its ethinic diversity, culture, the colours, markets and of course the people and their hospitality. In general, I don’t travel to a country more than once, but had to make an exception for Mali too among a very few other places. This time around, it was after a gap of 16 years and the living-colours and rhythms could be seen and heard below  –

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mali’s ethnic diversity is among the most colourful and  facinating. Following offers a glimpse into the ethnic wear of Bamanan, Bobo, Bozo, Peul, Dogon, Khassonke, Senouto, Soninke, Songhai, Toureg, Jogorame and Maure ( not in that order)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rhythms galore –

 

 

 

 

Affable Massambou below has worked with some of the leading musicians of Mali including Ali Farka Toure and Oumou Sangare –

 

 

 

 

Folk arts of North Eastern India

Featured

The horn played above in the beginning is called Penpa

The seven sister states of North-Eastern India (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura) are rich in folk and tribal traditions for centuries. Though largely converted to Christianity by the missionaries during the colonial times, one could still find native traditions alive. The state of Assam alone accounts for some 90 tribes and over 220 ethnic groups in all states. Each group has their own attire, dialect and culture. Handicrafts of bamboo and cane, wood-carving, hand loom-weaving are common.

20181113_104936

A Karbi girl in pekok(top) and pena (bottom)

 

 

 

20181113_110339

An Ahom girl in chadar (top) and mekla (bottom)

 

 

 

 

Bihu being Assamese, notice all the men wear ‘gamocha’ as a head-band. It’s a cotton towel woven out of white thread with intricate embroidery in red at the ends. This piece of cloth is highly revered and serves as a cultural identity in the state of Assam.

The cymbal played above in the band is called Bhortal

 

 

DSCN2659

Nritya Parva – annual Sattriya Dance Festival

Featured

The following piece on the festival by yours truly was carried in a national daily – please click the link –

https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/sattriya-showcased-in-assam-festival/article25679532.ece?fbclid=IwAR2krg9lOzofiDewW_sIu81pzHk0K8Za99YADvzeSwHt7BZhxRrH1qOZgks

Sattriya2018PDF

Slides –

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Video clips –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flamenco Bienal at Sevilla

Featured

20180912_220317

There’s nothing like watching an art form at its place of origin, where it packs every single ingredient without fail. Having watched Flamenco elsewhere and enough times on Youtube, really wanted to lap up all its flavor at its place of birth, Andalusia ! What better time to do it than the Biennial organized by the city of Seville. And Flamenco received UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage tag in 2010.

Though a month-long festival that spans many venues featuring top artists, there isn’t much fuss in town other than a few posters stuck here and there. But the halls get filled up as it draws a select audience from world over, in addition to locals. Speaking of world-audience, Japanese tops the list as this dance form has a huge following back there. At the halls, besides Spanish and English, announcements are made in Japanese too. Tickets sell out months in advance. It’s common to hear encouraging ‘Ole’ from enthusiastic aficionados from the sidelines at the shows. And a strict No,No for photography is a dampener.

20180912_220243

revolutionary dancer Carmen Amaya

As with any other evolving art form, Flamenco comes in both, traditional and modern flavors.  Gypsies or the Roma people are said to be the creators of this art during their misery days in the past centuries, combining what they inherited from their roots, said to be north-western parts of India, with other musical and dance traditions existed in their midst, like Andalucian folk, Moor, Berber, Arabic and Jewish. The music and dance also evolved as a way of venting their real-life struggles and sorrows in sensuous laments, giving the art form a strong and intense character. Though the Roma community is still a marginalized ethnic group throughout Europe, Flamenco has acquired a national symbol in Spain and helps a great deal in promoting tourism.

Besides the month-long festival, there are permanent, smaller and more intimate venues in town called Tablaos, where one can experience Flamenco anytime during the year. And for  those interested in taking classes, workshops to sing, dance, clap and guitar-playing can be found around the town.

20180921_204533

20180919_204423

Finally to say a few words on the city of Seville itself, the Arabic, Jewish, Christian and Roma confluence of the past has given this city a fascinating amalgamation in its aura. The massive and ornamented Cathedral stands tall, as if to emphasize the domineering Christian faith of the state of Spain. The state owes much to Christopher Columbus, though his expeditions were sponsored by the ruling Catholic monarchs, it was he who paved the way for bringing the riches to Spain, by way of colonization of the Americas that involved darker period of slavery, genocide, looting, destruction and Christianisation of locally rich indigenous cultures. Rightly so, there is a tomb for the man himself at the Cathedral, where his remains said to have been buried after several moves.

20180909_132147

the Cathedral

Continue reading

Dangs of Gujarat

Featured

100_2134

100_2135

Dang dance is performed by Dangi tribe of Dang region of Gujarat. This dance is usually performed during Holi and other festivals, also at fairs, ceremonies and rituals connected to worship. It is quite swift, vigorous and highly rhythmic. Musical instruments used are percussive Kahaiya and Dholki  besides short shehnai. Men and women stand alternately in a circular form and dance by going round and round, creating various choreographic patterns. They may have their arms around the shoulders or waists of the neighboring dancer. The movement builds gradually and reaches a fast tempo before winding to a halt. The women climb on the shoulders of men and form a human pyramid. The two and three tier formation moves clockwise and anti clockwise.

 

The Dangs live in the rocky, hilly forests of western central India. They are primarily located in the Dangs district of Gujarat State.

They have always lived close to nature, depending on it for survival. Animals are respected and treated as equals. For this reason, they are often called the “children of nature.” The Dangs district contains many protected forests that the Dangs are allowed to use for cultivation and residence. They live in one-room bamboo huts made with thatched roofs.

Despite their poverty, the Dangs enjoy singing and dancing. The villagers are skilled in creating objects out of stone, wood, and clay. Hindu artisans often help them with such crafts. Tattooing has also become an art among the Dangs.

The majority of the Dangs practice ethnic religions, and all of them are involved in ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors). Their lives revolve around rites, rituals and folk beliefs. Many are animists, believing that all objects have spirits. Trees, animals, demons, serpents, and spirits are worshiped through magical rituals. Wagh-Dev, the tiger god, is their sacred animal god and their emblem of worship.

The Dangs believe in magic, witchcraft, and sorcery, along with their many tribal gods and Hindu deities. They believe that the supernatural world contains both good and evil. Their constant fear of the spirits keeps them revolving around a circle of prayers, rituals, offerings, and sacrifices. The Bhagat (priest and medicine man) is thought to be the ultimate “good man.” He is believed to be a spiritual man who communicates with the gods. He is considered a friend, a philosopher, a guide, and a healer.

100_2133