On the Pallava trail in Kanchipuram

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The following piece was written for an ancient history encyclopedia in Europe –

https://member.ancient.eu/article/1336/on-the-pallava-trail-in-kanchipuram/

 

 

 

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Kaziranga National Park, Assam

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The world heritage park is a vast expanse of lush green tall elephant-grass and numerous water-bodies. There are 5 types of Rhinos occur in the world – white & black (2 horned and African), Javan, Indian (1 horned) and Sumatran( 2- horned), the last 3 being Asian. 2/3 of Asian (about 2000) occur in India and though poaching occurs for the prized ‘aphrodisiac’ horns, there’s a strong anti-poaching unit in place. Besides, Wild Buffalo, Elephants, Three types of deer, Monitor lizard, Tiger, the park is home to numerous species of migratory and endemic birds.

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Strokes

Hog deer                                         Ruddy Shelduck

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There is more to Assam than the one-horned Rhinoceros. Of the 1000+ orchids occur in India, a major of them are found in North-Eastern states including Assam. Kaziranga National Orchid Park houses more than 500 of them. And of course, the tea from Assam are sold world-over.

Orchid                                               Tea

Nritya Parva – annual Sattriya Dance Festival

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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

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Dangs of Gujarat

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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.

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Thol Bommalattam – Shadow Puppetry

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This is an ancient form of entertainment and story-telling that continues to this day, though sparingly. It uses articulated cut-out figures made of thol (leather) that are made to dance, act, fight, nod, laugh so on between  a source of light and a screen. This art form is still found in many countries across Asia, notably China, India and Indonesia have always been major players.

 

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European merchant ships played a role in importing this art form to parts of Europe.

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Puppets are held close to the screen and hands and legs are manipulated with attached canes. I took a peek behind the screen while the women work and hundreds of puppets strewn across the floor. The team members were scurrying around to pick the right characters for the scenes to follow.

 

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Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata form the repertoire, used to be performed by itinerant artists on temporary platforms during temple festivals. It is believed puppet-theater dates back to 3rd century BCE. The puppets in general are three to four feet tall.

 

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Folk Traditions of the states of Bihar and Haryana

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Haryana

Haryana has rich tradition of music and dance for various occasions such as wedding, festivals and so on and for seasons such as harvest, sowing of seeds, monsoon and so forth.The music in general falls into two categories, classical such as songs for Teej, Phag and Holi and rural or country music that narrates legendary tales.

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Phag is a seasonal dance by the farmers, expressing the joy of bounty crop.

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Bihar

Here the folk songs deal with various events in the life of a common man.

The following songs called  Sohar that are performed during childbirth

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The influence of Bihari music is seen in countries such as Mauritius, South Africa and the Caribbean islands where a large number of Bihari indentured labourers were taken by the British during the nineteenth century.