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Keeping 'behrupiya' alive

The festival, which was held from October 5 – 7, witnessed 70 behrupiya artists from different states of the country, who showcased their talent – individually, in pairs and in groups

As the Capital gets into the festive mood, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi, organised the 'National Behrupiya Festival' from October 5-7.

The behrupiya festival takes place every year in different locations – Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Kumbh, Muzaffarnagar, and others, but this was the first time it happened in Delhi on a national level.

Member Secretary of IGNCA, Dr Sadchittand Joshi told Millennium Post during an interation, "This was not just an entertainment based festival. It added educational and documentation parts too which is very important. A film and monograph was also produced during the event to provide visibility to this art form and help the researchers as well as the general public to know about the art form."

The festival witnessed 70 behrupiya artists from different states of the country, who showcased their talent – individually, in pairs and in groups. Majority of the artists present at the festival came from a family of behrupiyas, and were trying to take forward the family tradition.

"I was 15 when I entered this field, I have seen my father, grandfather executing this art very well. And as I come from a very backward class in a very small village, I did not have many employment options. Therefore, this art form became my source of income," said one artist present there.

There was another artist who had come from a very small village of Bengal. He told that the village was so small and unexplored that people living in the neighbourhood even don't know about it. "Our village is known by the name of our art – 'Behrupiyo ka gaon', if you ask them about this village, they would not know its name but they would know that all the behrupiya artists live there," he said.

Though it was the first time Behrupiya festival took place in Delhi, according to the artists, Delhi has been their best experience. They said that they got appreciation, acceptance, and love from this place.

The main objective of the artists and the organisers was to revive the very old and extinct art of India, giving people authentic information about this art (especially in the younger generation), to increase the respect of people associated with this art.

Talking about the festival, the organiser of Behrupiya festival Vilas Janve – a renowned theatre artist and the brain behind this festival, said: "I have organised Behrupiya festival earlier in Udaipur, but I thought that organising a National level festival in the Capital would be a great help for the artists who wish to showcase their talents. Also, this will help us to spread the awareness about the art form."

Vilas has been dealing with Behrupiya artists for various festivals like Shilpgram Utsav, Udaipur, Parampara Festival, Mumbai, Vasant Utsav at Gandhi Nagar and Folk festivals at Goa. "I have special love for this art and I not only want to preserve this art but also want people to have respect for it, to understand it," he stated.

Describing the pitiful state of behrupiya art in the country, he said, "We also went to schools to interact with children in more depth. I was taken aback with the fact that many school teachers were also not aware of this art form before we told them."

Meghna Khanna

Meghna Khanna

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