Millennium Post

Forgotten tribal dance forms, musical instruments to come to life

Kolkata: The West Bengal State Academy of Dance Drama and Visual Arts will organise a unique workshop to revive some of the musical instruments and dance forms of the tribes that have become extinct.
The workshop, which is the first-of-its-kind, will be held in North Bengal in October wherefrom the tribes hail.
It may be recalled that after coming to power in 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee paid special attention to restore the traditional arts and assist the artists financially. As many as 1.98 lakh folk artists have been brought under the Lok Prasak Prokolpo. The artists are given monthly stipends and programme offers. They have also been given musical instruments. As a result of the project, many artists who had left the profession and joined other vocation, have come back to pursue their ancient and traditional folk art.
The Dhimal community having 1,000 population used to play Tunjai and Urni, two musical instruments. With the passage of time and due to apathy of the former state governments, both the instruments had become extinct. The community lives at Gaburjuti near the Indo-Nepal border. The officials of the West Bengal State Academy of Dance Drama and Visual Arts visited the remote area and found two master craftsmen who used to manufacture the musical instruments. The instruments that are played with strings are made of bamboo, horse's tail and half coconut shells. The instruments have been made and the workshop will be held at Gaburjuti.
A rare dance by Toto women will be held at the workshop that will be held in Totopara. Toto, one of the smallest tribe in the world live at Totopara. Till recently, the Totos avoided people from the civilised world. The dance form known as Chichi Pawra will be presented for the first time. The dance form will be documented and preserved.
Three workshops on masks will be held in North Bengal where the tribes belonging to the Rajbanshi, Rava and Meech will take part. The Meech community are artisans who make masks from bamboo and follow some sort of weaving method, a unique style to manufacture masks.
A senior official of the state government said that the sole purpose of the workshops is to revive the old arts and make the present generation aware of their glorious past.
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