Posts filed under ‘Kosli Culture’

Ganda Baja – a musical tradition of western Odisha

 Following article is from EPW:

Ganda Baja is a prominent folk musical tradition of western Odisha. The players of this art form belong to the Ganda community (a Dalit community, largely from parts of western Odisha that border Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh). Generally, the Ganda are landless people mainly dependent on Ganda Baja and weaving for their livelihood. Since their traditional occupation of weaving has been failing with mill-made clothes flooding the market, they have been reduced to landless agricultural labourers. Some among them have also migrated to urban areas in search of livelihood.

“Baja” is a collective of musical instruments, including membranophones (the dhol, nisan, and tasa or timkidi), an aerophone (muhuri), and an idiophone (jhumka). This Baja is traditionally played during marriages, childbirth ceremonies, idol immersion processions, some administrative occasions, funeral processions, etc. Each occasion’s music has a distinct beat and tenor. For example, the “Jhi Bahar Par” (music for daughter’s departure to her in-laws’ place) is played when a bride is escorted out of the village by friends and relatives as she leaves for her marital home. The “Dargad Par” is played when a wife wails and mourns her husband’s death. Songs are specifically learnt for the occasion. The composition of “Dargad Par” evokes fear and awe in the listener.

The Ganda Baja is a way of living, a cultural manifestation of life in western Odisha. These days, the traditional genre has undergone tremendous change. A Ganda Baja troop consists of a minimum of five members in different capacities. They are Muhuria (the person who operates the muhuri), Dhulia (the person who operates the dhol), Taslia (the person who operates the tasa), Nisnia (the person who operates the nisan), and Jhumkia (the person who operates the jhumka). Five members is the minimum strength of the troop, but six members is considered a sound quorum for the group, with one dhol, one muhuri, one jhumka, one tasa and two nisan. The group has the flexibility of extending it to eight members, if there is a demand for dancers (a man in the outfit of a woman) from their clients. It is believed that a troop is stronger with a larger number of members in varying capacities. The members have learnt this art form from their forefathers, having travelled together and performed with them since childhood. Due to the stigma associated with the community and the practice of untouchability, they learn this art form from their family members as a livelihood skill.

The members of the community mainly earn during the marriage season. Earlier, they used to perform for three to five days. Now, it has reduced to a maximum of two days. Earlier, the agreements between the patron and the Ganda Baja troop were through the jajmani system in these areas and were usually oral contracts. The wage rates offered to them were very low and they had to accept whatever amount was offered. Once they entered into an agreement, sometimes their patrons had exclusive and absolute rights over their services for a particular period of time (usually three or five days). For this stipulated time they were like bonded labourers. In some instances, the party engaging them would pressurise the troop to beat drums all night so they could drink and dance. Sometimes they would even have to walk for hours and cover long distances carrying heavy instruments to reach their destination. And, at times, they would have to wait for long hours for food, once they reached there.

Things, however, are changing. Currently, a contract is completely based on mutual agreement. Slowly, the community is demanding market-negotiated wage rates. Income encompasses payments in both cash and kind. The minimum rate is ₹ 5,000 per performance, and the maximum is ₹ 15,000, shared by the members of the troop. They have around 30 performances for different occasions over seven to eight months in a year.

Ganda Baja is still a major source of livelihood for this community in a large part of western Odisha. Modern music has seriously affected the livelihood of the Baja troops, resulting in the gradual disappearance of this age-old traditional art form. In 2014, folk artists from western Odisha had staged a protest in front of the legislative assembly demanding the status of Adikala (primitive art) for Ganda Baja. On that occasion, they tried to foreground two issues: their strong attachment to their culture, and their earnings from their occupation. They vociferously argued that their culture was their occupation too, which is why there is an urgent need for the revival and promotion of Ganda Baja.

Sujit Kumar Mishra (sujitkumar72@gmail.com) teaches economics at the Council for Social Development, Hyderabad.

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October 21, 2018 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

‘Rangabati’ music composer Prabhudatta Pradhan passes away

Following is a report from the TOI:

Music composer of popular Sambalpuri song Rangabati, Prabhudatta Pradhan, today passed away at his residence in Odisha following prolonged illness, family sources said.
Active in the field of music for 45 years, Pradhan had popularised Sambalpuri music and had bagged 14 prestigious awards for his contribution in the field of Samabalpuri music.

He had expertise in percussion instruments like ‘Dhol’ and ‘Mandal’.

The Rangabati song which earned him fame in 1975, was written by Mitrabhanu Gountia and sung by Jitendra Haripal and Krishna Patel.

He is survived by wife and two sons Ashish and Aseem.

Born in 1943, Prabhudatta started learning music under his father at the age of three. He was influenced by his father late Pravas Chandra Pradhan to sing bhajans or Hindu religious songs at home even though they were Christians. Pradhan learnt tabla from Pandit Jadunath Supkar at Benaras in Uttar Pradesh. He had joined the All India Radio (AIR), Sambalpur station as an instrumentalist in 1969.

May 31, 2018 at 4:07 am Leave a comment

Drought cloud over Nuakhai in western Odisha

Following is a report TNIE:

Drought scare looms over the celebration of mass agrarian festival Nuakhai slated to be observed on August 26. With drought stalking districts of Nuapada, Balangir, Kalahandi and rain-fed areas of Bargarh, the peasants and marginal farmers have been robbed of their purchasing power.

On the other hand, the situation has come in handy for labour sardars who are on the prowl offering advance to lure gullible landless and poor peasants to migrate to alien lands promising greener pasture.
With no money in hand and aware of the impending drought, the landless and poor have been caught between poverty and tradition. While the helpless peasants need money to celebrate Nuakhai, they also have to sustain their families.

Caught in this dilemma, they land in the trap of labour sardars who offer them advance money for Nuakhai celebration and traffic them mostly to brick kilns where they are forced to work in inhuman condition.

With rains failing farmers in the districts of Nuapada, Balangir, parts of Kalahandi besides Padampur sub-division in Bargarh, it is said that the sardars will have a flourishing trade this year. With successive crop loss and debt burden haunting the farmers, the labour sardars are looking forward to traffic more people trapped in poverty and debt.

While Nuapada Labour Officer Mukta Lal Naik could not be reached, the lone clerk in his office said no labour contractor has applied for licence as yet in the district.
Similarly, Assistant Labour Commissioner, Balangir Saroj Ranjit said fresh registration of labour contractors has not yet begun. Registration will start after Nuakhai, Ranjit added.

August 27, 2017 at 5:56 am Leave a comment

Write more and more in Kosli language

Following is a report from the pioneer:

kosli-language

February 23, 2017 at 5:39 am Leave a comment

Jitendra Haripal, an artiste par excellence

Following is a report from the TNIE:

SAMBALPUR: Jitendra Haripal, the voice behind ‘Rangabati’, had never hoped for a Padma Award. A Dalit with no formal training in music who took to singing out of passion, he hopes the recognition might help him change his financial condition.

It was  ‘Rangabati’, which took him to the zenith of popularity in the mid-70s. The song was recorded by All India Radio, Sambalpur in 1975-76 for Surmalika special programme and re-recorded (Disc) later on in Indian Record Company (INERCO), Kolkata in 1978-79. So far, he has sung in over 1,000 Koshali and Sambalpuri songs.
Even today, his voice continues to create euphoria among crowd whenever he sings at functions.

His first song recorded and broadcast was ‘Bhalu Palala Patarake’ followed by ‘Hai Kustan Hai Kustan’, ‘Mandal Bajila’, ‘Lenjera Ghanti Delana’ and many more such songs but it was ‘Ranagabati’  which made him popular.

However, his struggle for existence continues till date with one of his son, Paras driving an auto rickshaw to support their big family while he had lost another son, Pratap, who worked as a daily wager and fell to death at a construction site. Haripal has been bestowed with many awards including the Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2001, Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) by Utkal University of Culture, Bhubaneswar, in 2015 for his unparalleled contribution to folk music.

Haripal got the news of his being chosen for Padma Shri Award from this paper while returning to Sambalpur from Panchmahalla in Ulunda block of Sonepur district.

February 3, 2017 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

Eminent danseuse Gurubari Mirdha passes away

Following is a report from the Pioneer:

Because she took birth on Gurubar (Thursday), parents kept her name Gurubari, which is a practice people follow in most part of the State. And, finally she also breathed her last on a Thursday.

Gurubari Mirdha from a nondescript village in Bargarh district left a void as she passed away recently with people of the State, particularly art connoisseurs, still remembering her sterling performance as a noted Sambalpuri and Dalkhai dancer. She had tremendous contribution to popularize Sambalpuri and Dalkhai dance in the country and singularly she was enough to keep the audience spell bound for hours together through the beats of her feet. Not irrelevant to mention that she even made former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to dance on the stage with her as Gandhi as an audience could not help it before the enthralling dance Gurubari was performing in Delhi.

But with so much talent in her, she was unable to cash in on it for her financial security. Almost during her entire life period, she was living a very miserable life. As a BPL person, she had been allotted an Indira Awas, but that she couldn’t be completed as yet.

In the year, 1987, an Odia vernacular daily carried a detail story about her poverty that drew the attention of the people abroad. And, moved by the report, Odia artist from Sweden PK Mahanadia wrote a letter to Surendra Hota of Bargarh expressing his willingness to help her financially. But at that time Gurubari couldn’t be traced as she went out of the State as a Dadan Shramik (migrant labourer) to another State.

“Think the fate of a versatile dancer opting to work as a Dadan Shramik with whom the Prime Minister of India had once danced. This is also fate of many people in Odisha who came in direct contact with many dignitaries, but remain poor forever. The case of Fanus Punji of Kalahandi is another bright example,” said Sureswar Satapathy, an elite citizen of Bargarh.

Under her guidance, a college teacher in Bargarh wrote a short play entitled ‘Lekri’ (torn up clothes ) that narrated the poverty of the versatile lady artist. The play depicts how all prizes, medals, felicitations and citations etc were meaningless for her and she needed money for survival that nobody gave her. But that drama couldn’t be staged as yet although it was completed when Gurubari lived.

“Till end of her life, a small pension from the Government and mercy of the villagers was the main source of her livelihood,” said her villagers.

October 25, 2016 at 7:32 am Leave a comment

Dalkhai

Following report is taken from http://odishawatch.in:

In the month of Aswina, on the Mahaastami day of Durga Puja, people of Western Orissa celebrate Bhai Juntia. A total fasting is observed by young girls and women for the entire day and night to seek the blessings of Goddess Durga for amelioration and long life of their brothers. In villages young girls usually dance in small groups during this celebration which is known as Dalkhai dance. Dalkhai is a ritual-based folk dance which is accompanied by several musical instruments as well.

Dalkhai is basically a folk deity. Her abode is known as Dalkhai kuthi. The name Dalkhai is derived from the name of the deity as the dance is performed in her name. In the past, people worshipped the jungle deity to protect themselves from the wild animals and other dangers. Afterwards the deity became synonymous with Durga or Bana Durga. Usually through this dance they pray for the general happiness of the family and the village as a whole.

On the Durga Astami day young girls assemble on the bank of a river or a pond to take bath. One of them brings seven palm-full of sands and built a small platform for worship, they put four mango leaf and place burning wicks on them. This ritual is repeated seven times as seven girls bring palm-full of water and follow the same ritual. Thereafter prayers are offered to goddess Dalkhai for the well-being of their brothers. This is followed by songs and dances, where all the people – young or old – participate with equal enthusiasm. Earlier during the dance, young girls and boys join together in a question answer session.

In the afternoon, at Pantibela, all the girls assemble near the Dalkhai Kuthi with their baskets containing sand and other materials for worship. Some of them get dressed like Parvati and Iswara, while the rest of them carry umbrella, a stick and a water jug (Kalsi). In a procession they move to seven houses and come back to the Dalkhai Kuthi. Inside the Dalkhai Kuthi they perform several acts of the mythology. One of them acts as Bhima and some other act as Kubera. Bhima brings paddy from Kubera and sows it in the field. Songs and dances enacting various scenes from the mythology are essential part of Dalkhai.

Returning home the girls prepare for further rituals. They prepare leaf cups containing piece of sugarcane, yellow thread called ita?, 108 pieces of duba (evergreen grass), 108 pieces of unbroken rice; along with it small branches of Amla and Dahana (a sweet smelling leaf), puffed rice and dhup are placed. Separate leaf cups are arranged for each brother.

After taking bath in the river bank they prepare platform for worship. Fruits like ladies finger, frankincense (Kunduru) etc. are placed as offerings to the goddess Dalkhai. Then they change their clothes and carry their baskets and assemble near the Dalkhai Kuthi. They collect seven clay statues of Parvati, Iswara, Ganesha, Tortoise and Bull are placed inside the Dalkhai Kuthi. The ritual starts with Dhunkel and Bharni beat of the dhol. It is often seen that a person becomes possessed by a spirit of one of the deities. The villagers ask several questions regarding the wellbeing of the village. The ritual then comes to an end.

On the ninth day, all the girls again assemble near the Dalkhai Kuthi. After collecting all the articles used for the ritual on the previous day, they move in a procession accompanied by drumming of dhol and nissan to seven houses and then to the river bank to immerse all the articles. After taking bath they return home, and the 108 dub, 108 rice and yellow thread are offered to their brothers. Till the end of the tenth day of Dasahara, they are engrossed in Dalkhai dance. The entire village plunges into an energetic mood by the intoxicating effect of the melodious song and dance.

Dalkhai is performed as a ritual, whereas dance and song remains its principal interest. The dancers stand in a semi-circular formation during the dance. One after another they sing a couplet and at the end of it they dance in a particular way by bending at the waist level and move their feet rhythmically accompanied by musical instruments.

During the song dhol is played and subsequently other musical instruments like Nishan, Tasha, Jhanj and Muhari are accompanied.

The songs are composed from couplets to sixteen lines. The singer begins the song uttering “Dalkahi Re, Dalkahi Re” (twice) and finishes the lines with another pronouncement of “Dalkahi Re”. Mostly the songs are of romantic themes. At times one can find the description of nature, seasons, gods and goddesses; sometimes satire and teasing also. The singers have to depend entirely on their memory while rendering the songs – presence of mind comes handy.

During rendering Dalkhai usually Raserkeli, Mailajada, Jaiphul are also rendered. The lyrical depiction of Rasarkeli, MaelaJada and Jaiphula may look similar with Dalkhai. However, the song and rhythm of drums has different beats and style.

Dilip Kumar Padhi VU2DPI

October 15, 2016 at 3:10 pm Leave a comment

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