A Tribal Festival

Papia Roy

Chaibasa a small forest clad town of Jharkhand witnessed a colourful tribal dance, music and theatre staged by different troupes of Assam, Manipur, Odisha, Sikkim, Mizoram and Jharkhand. ‘Adibasi Adi Bimb’ is organised by National School of Drama in collaboration with Department of Art & Culture, Jharkhand. In his inaugural address Ratan Thiyam, eminent theatre personality and chairman NSD said, ‘This festival will contribute to the growth and development of tribal art and culture across the country’.

The festival ‘Adivasi Adi Bimb’ has thrown light on the harmony of feeling, emotion and cultural ambience of tribal people across the states of Northern Eastern and NE India. The most notable performance was delivered by ‘Honrei Kasui and Vara Pheichak’ dance team from Manipur. ‘Honrei Kasui’ is a dance of farewell to the departed soul. It is most popular and vigorous dance of ancient Manipuri people done on the ‘Thisam’ festival which is the main cultural festival of Tang Khul Naga. A group of ancient people believed that men lived in the another world called ‘Kazeiram’ (land of dead people) after death. Before they live in ‘Kazeiram’ they were among the living people. So as a farewell given to the departed soul should they celebrate ‘Thisam’ festival. The ‘Honrei Kasui’ and ‘Yara Pheichak’ are the main cultural dances offered during the occasion.

Ashok Kachhap and his troupe of Ranchi performed the famous Paika dance of Jharkhand. Paika is a unique form of age old tribal dance where martial arts is mixed with traditional dance rhythm. Performed by only male tribals this dance ‘Paika’ offers a thrilling entertainment to the viewers as the dancers handle swords in one hand and the shield in the other hand. The dance is accompanied by the melodious music of Narsingha, Sehnai, Bheir, Dhak and Nakara drums.

Ghumura, a traditional heroic dance of Kalahandi, Odisha, is also a fantastic experience. The most popular folk dance Ghumura comprises the traditional music instruments like Ghumura, Nishan, Dhol, Taal, Madal and exposes the Veera Rasa. During the erstwhile days of the kings this dance form was used as a morale booster for the soldiers and thereby known as War Dance. Another tribal dance form ‘Bajashal’ of Kalahandi, based on Sringar Rasa, was performed by the young boys and girls of Odisha is a form of youthful exuberance.

Cheraw Lam, a colourful Mizo dance form, has also attracted the attention of the viewers for its unique presentation through the ecstatic movement of bamboos supported by drum beats of Dhak, Dhol and Nakara. Little is known about the origin of Cheraw, which was essentially a dance of satisfaction and redemption performed with great care, precision and elegance. Abhinav theatre of Assam enthralled the audience with their theatrical performance ‘Sanghat’ in the festival. Directed by Prabui Hajong, a young Assamese Director, the drama Sanghat depicts the social and ritual problems of Hajong communities migrating from Bangladesh in 1962. The Hajong society settled at the outskirts of Assam but they retained their cultural roots through dance and drama performance. Female characters of the drama made significant contributions in acting as well as theatrical choreography.

Madhya Pradesh came to the festival with two dance forms ‘Saila’ and ‘Gudum Baja’. ‘Saila’ is mainly men’s dance presented through music arrangement of Madal, Timki, Ghotihaari. ‘Saila’ is a kind of stick used in binding bulls while ploughing in the field.

Vol. 50, No.2, Jul 16 - 22, 2017