The state government has planned to use jatra (theatre) artistes to highlight the culture of West Bengal.
“Through jatras, various aspects of social lives are highlighted and they are part and parcel of Bengal’s rich cultural tradition. In the rural belt, jatras are very popular and this form of art needs to be preserved,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said while inaugurating Jatra Festival at Barasat Kachari Maidan on Wednesday evening.
Sixteen jatra artistes including Nirmal Mukherje, Jayasree Mukherje were felicitated. Three hundred and eleven poor jatra artistes were given Rs 9,000 each. Minakshi Dey was given Bina Dasgupta Award.
Recollecting her childhood days, the Chief Minister said Natta Company and the jatra’s where Shantigopal had acted become very popular. “We are often tired because of the monotony of our daily life and to come of this, people take part in festivals, eat good food and watch cultural programmes like jatras,” she said, adding “ I do not share the views of those who criticise festivals.”
Banerjee said the state government was helping the needy artistes to buy a harmonium or tabla or dholok. Some jatra artistes sing really well. So the state government has planned to use their voices to highlight the long cherished culture. She said the state government was giving stipend to 58,000 artistes in the state. She said the officials in the blocks upto Zilla Parishads had been instructed to invite the groups performing jatras during cultural shows.
It may be recalled that Lokranjan Sakha, a part of state information department, was set up in the early 1970 to help jatra artistes. The wing became virtually defunct during the last leg of the Left Front regime and those involved with Jatra faced acute financial constraints. State Food Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said the festival had evoked tremendous response and in different areas like Hingalgung, Bongaon, Bagda and Sandeshkhali jatra shows have become immensely popular. He said people from these areas have book the shows which would be held in their areas soon.