Posts Tagged ‘Colors of Culture and Heritage’

A SHORT ACCOUNT ON DANGS DARBAR: A FEATHER IN THE CAP OF THE DAZZLING DANG

It is always interesting to peep into the age old traditions and rejuvenate yourself. Gujarat offers innumerable such opportunities and is indeed vibrant. One such tradition dates back to almost 155 years, celebrated in one of the most delightful districts of Gujarat, the Dangs. The Dangs is home to the biggest tribal festival, the Dangs Darbar. Just like other festivals and fairs of Gujarat, this one too, has stories and beliefs attached to itself.

WHERE, WHEN, WHO?

Dang is located in the Saputara Hills of Gujarat. While, the exact venue for the extravaganza named Dangs Darbar is Ahwa, a small town and the district headquarters of Dang.

Dangs Darbar coincides with the festival of Holi in March-April. The celebration goes on for 3-4 days when thousands of tribal people from over 300 villages in Dang district descend on Ahwa to eat, drink and make merry. The actual fun starts a week in advance where the tribals purchase sweets, farsan, utensils, toys, cutlery, radio, tape, TV cassette recorders, clothes, articles of bamboo, household goods, ornaments, etc.

Most of the partakers of the festival are tribals, making it the biggest and most awaited time in Gujarat. Dang is the home of adivasis who have lived in the forests and highlands of the region from time immemorial. The tribal natives constitute nearly three-fourth of the population. Visitors, along with the tribal communities like the Bhils, the Kunbis, the Warlis and the Gamits throng the place.

UNMATCHED SHOWCASE

The spirit of festivity and pomp reverberates in the Dangs Darbar. The tribals appear in their best traditional attires. The atmosphere is marked by the sound of the drum and shehnai (a wood-wind instrument). All men wear lion clothes which are complimented with a waistcoat and colored turban. Women are robed in saree and blouse. They team it with numerous silver ornaments, of which they are very fond.

Apart from the rich display of the traditional arts and crafts of the tribal people, tribal dances of the region are also spectacular to watch. People move in concentric circles holding each other by the waist, dancing to the beat of drums and wind instruments. Many musical instruments are typical of this district. It also serves as a platform to search for brides and grooms for the local people.

THE BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL START

The most interesting part of the Dangs Darbar is the way it started. A bold and beautiful story unfolds as we peep into this traditional celebration that began years before independence.

The Dangs Darbar has drawn its name from the Ahwa Darbar, a one-time assembly (Darbar) venue for English ministers and mandarins during the British era. According to legacy of history, it is said that 5 Bhil kings ruled the Dang District, which was in ancient times known as Danda-Karanya, till the British arrived in the remotest part of Gujarat. However, they could never conquer the hilly regions of the Dang. So, they entered into an agreement with the Dangi Kings. In 1842, they executed a forest lease with these 5 Kings and Naiks in lieu of annual sum to be paid to the Rajas. This amount was paid by organizing Darbars.

It was considered a great honor to receive payment from the hands of European political agents. Thus began the Dangs Darbar more than 150 years ago, out of a payment to be made because of forest lease. The annual fair continued even after independence, though in 1954, the privileges of the Kings and Naiks were cancelled and instead hereditary political pension was granted to them.

CHANGED NATURE OF DANGS DARBAR

Today it is also called the Jamabandi Darbar, and the District Collector officiates it. The merchants and traders from different parts of the district arrive at the fair, displaying and exhibiting their products. It provides a great opportunity for the local merchants to mint money. People from Nasik, Surat and West Khandesh also visit the place in aspiration of good business.

An exhibition of local culture, tribal development schemes and forest environment is inaugurated during the Dangs Darbar. However, the customs instituted earlier, continues – to provide pensions to the Tribals (Daher, Gadhvi, Linga, Pimpri and Vasurna were awarded pensions in 2009). Various other schemes are implemented like the ‘Malki Plantation’ scheme in which tribals grow teakwood and other forest products in their land, for which they are paid by the Government under the scheme. Another such scheme is, ‘Mafi Kaat’ – about 225 tribals were provided with teakwood worth Rs 22.5 million free of cost to build and repair their own houses.

2011

Ahwa is all set for the festive look of the Dangs Darbar, starting March 16, 2011. A unique exhibition depicting the tribal arts and culture of Dang will be on display and a special program has been organized at the Saputara hill station on March 17. The tribal people of Dang and the visitors will have a chance to witness the traditional dance by the west zone cultural group from Udaipur. Also, a national photography competition has been organized wherein photographers submitted their work on the natural beauty of the Dangs, its wildlife, culture and tradition. The winners will be announced on the first day of Dangs Darbar.

We cannot afford to miss such a colorful festival. Worth an excursion this week-end!

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=The%20Told%20And%20Untold%20Stories%20Of%20Dang_550

LIGHTS, COLORS, HIGH ENERGY LEVELS, GLIMPSES OF CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT IS WHAT LEAVES THE VISITORS MESMERIZED AT THE MODHERA DANCE FESTIVAL
 
Gujarat is not all about Garba – Modhera Dance Festival proves this fact. Classical dancers from all parts of the country take part in this grand occasion and enthrall the audience. Professional artistes as well as emerging talents perform at this annual festival. A signature celebration of the Gujarat Tourism Department, the festival aims at providing prominence to Indian Classical and Folk Dance and to present these dance forms in an atmosphere they were originally presented in.
 
MODHERA: A MASTERPIECE
 
The beautiful Sun Temple at Modhera acts as the venue for the Dance Festival. The architectural style of the temple is superb and lots of efforts have been made in the past on its adornment. The walls contain the sculptural carvings that speak of the rich cultural heritage of Gujarat. Though the temple of the 11th century is in ruins, it is considered as one of the best examples of Indian art and architecture of the bygone era.The temple is dedicated to Lord Surya (the Sun God) and its outer walls are covered with prominent figures of the Lord. The style in which the temple was built bears a strong resemblance to that of the Jain temples at Mount Abu.Modhera is located in North Gujarat and is 25 km away from the town of Mehsana. The temple was built during the reign of the Solanki king Bhimdev I. The most fascinating feature of the temple is that its construction is such that sun’s first rays illuminate the main deity in the innermost chamber of the shrine, through the main doors.

ALSO CALLED UTTARARDH MAHOTSAV

This festival of dance is also called Uttarardh Mahotsav. This name is derived from the placement of the Sun. The festival is held after Uttrayan, the time when the sun starts his voyage towards Uttar or North indicating the end of winter and the beginning of longer days with a pleasant breeze. During Uttrayan, the Sun transmigrates from one planet to the other; it travels from Dhanu or Sagittarius to Makar that is Capricorn. Halfway through this voyage, the time when ‘ardh’ or half of ‘uttar’ or Northward journey is over, the period is known as Uttarardh.

DANCE DELIGHT IN AN AMAZING BACKDROP

The delight is to watch the performers blend in the ambience and bring life to the sandstone figurines of the temple, singing and narrating legends of history.

The main highlight of the Modhera Dance Festival is the typical Garba performance that depicts the glorious culture of Gujarat. People attired in colorful costumes perform the Garba dance. The whole atmosphere is so breathtaking that it leaves the audience totally spellbound. Dance troupes and performers from all regions of the nation bring along a panorama of varied dance forms and styles, interlaced with the essence of their origins. It is during this time that Modhera witnesses large number of crowds, who come here to witness this fabulous occasion and take pleasure in watching the varied art forms.

WITNESSES TO THE DANCE FESTIVAL

The festival is attended by art and dance connoisseurs from all across the world. Classical and folk dancers and musicians from different states of the country exhibit their talent while culture enthusiasts witness this splendid event. Inhabitants and natives from nearby villages also are an indigenous part of the occasion.

Some of the people who grace the marvelous Dance Festival are Vaijyanti – a Kuchipudi dancer, Kathak dancer – Padmashree Kumidini Lakhia and Parul Shah – Bharat Natyam Dancer. The festival has gained popularity as it showcases the participation of the leading enthusiasts such as Padma Vibhushan Sonal Mansingh and her group as well as Bharat Natyam dancer Ilakshiben Thakore.

The tourists thoroughly enjoy this Dance Festival, as they get a chance to see the dance forms of ancient as well as contemporary India simultaneously.

A NOT-TO-MISS EVENT

The festival takes place every year in the month of January. The schedule for this year is 21-23rd January. The festival has too much to offer – an experience of the living heritage of Indian dance and music while traversing back in time sitting in the lap of golden history.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=CELEBRATION%20OF%20INDIAN%20HERITAGE%20THROUGH%20DANCE%20AND%20MUSIC_416

A land with many reasons to celebrate, a land with unparalleled spirit, always on the run; this land of Western India is named Gujarat. Very traditional in its roots yet one of the most forward societies of the country, Gujarat has left many a things behind. But down the memory lane, we realize that old arts are still running in its veins. One such art being the Pithora Paintings.
The Pithora paintings trail back long into history and find their roots in the cave paintings, thousands of years old. This is the most prevalent and characteristic art tradition of the Rathwa community, who live in the Central Gujarat, 90 kms from Vadodara in a village called Tejgadh. The Pithora paintings are crude and it is this crudity that adds to the beauty and simplicity of the paintings.

THE PEOPLE:

The main group of tribes who practice this art are called Rathwas. However, the villages surrounding Tejgadh and Chhota Udaipur have other tribes as well who execute the Pithora paintings. These are very religious people and for them the presence of Baba Pithora is of divine importance. The Pithora painters are called Lakharas, the one who keeps an account of all the work is called Jokhara and the head priest is called Badwa. An interesting fact of these paintings is that only men are allowed to pursue this art and not the females of the family.

MYTHS ATTACHED:

Most of the Indian Arts have some legends attached to its origin. Pithora paintings are no exceptions. They have two main stories that are as old as time itself. One of the ideas was of a map. This tradition is supposed to have started in the 11th century, when Bharuch was a centre for traders from the North. The roads to Bharuch were real mysterious and even dangerous. So the tribes decided to earn a livelihood by escorting Indian and Foreign traders through this region. And to keep their profession safe, the leader of the tribe prepared a map full of codes. Thus, the seven hills became represented by seven horses and the mouth of river Narmada by two tigers. The leader also ordered the escorts to make the same painting in their houses. The people who agreed to the order were called Rathwas while those who did not were called Talawis. This practice went on and the act of making the paintings became a ritual and Pithora became their God.

The second myth is the story of Baba Pithora. One of the seven sisters of Raja Indra, Rani Kadi Koyal had an affair with Raja Kanjurana. She was still a maiden when she gave birth to a son and due to the fear of her brother; she let the boy afloat in a stream. Indra’s other two sisters found the boy while fetching water and named him Pithora. The story progresses as the boy stays at the palace and one fine day finds out who his parents were.  The King Indra accepted Pithora and invited a Grand Court where Pithora immediately identified Raja Kanjurana as his father. After much rejoicing, a grand wedding ceremony was arranged and Pithora wed Pithori with much aplomb. And so is the story depicted in the Pithora paintings.

RITUALS AND TECHNIQUES:

The process starts with the unmarried girls grinding the cow dung and the white chalk powder to paint the walls. Powder, earth and vegetable colors are mixed with milk and Mahua flower liquor to prepare the yellow, indigo, green, vermillion, red and silver dye for the Pithora Paintings. Whereas the brush is made by either chewing or beating the ends of a bamboo stick or twigs. Animistic figures – bull, horses, birds and tigers are an inseparable part of each Pithora Painting. But now as the times are changing when one can find the paintings of airplanes, trains, cars and other such modern things.

These paintings are made with the basic intention to appease or thank the Gods or for a wish to be granted. The head priest is summoned and the problems are narrated. Then after the solution is given by the priest, the ritual of paintings start. Generally the painting starts on a Tuesday and ends by Wednesday night. The paintings flood three walls of the house and the main wall of the verandah that divides it from the kitchen is called the Pithoro. The paintings have wavy lines, the marriage ceremony of Pithora and Pithori, and other animals like the white horses that depict the ghosts and witches who need to be satisfied with gifts.
When the Lakharas paint, the others sing and dance. When the paintings are done with, the head priest looks for loopholes and these are also corrected through hand work. The paintings are outlined with the help of a twig and then filled with colors. At the end, they are finished with silver color and bright colored dots. After all this, the sacrificing, singing, dancing and feasting is witnessed by visitors even from far away distances. The Pithora is said to be witnessing all this and whenever one sees a Pithora, more than half of the hut is given over to Him and marked as His presence.

Pithora paintings continue to be realistic and ritualistic as in the past. Today the tribes even paint for commercial reasons due to poverty and great demand of the art. But the Rathwas take care that the compositions are changed a little before they sell them. Today, one can find the Rathwas as farmers, computer graduates and even teachers. When asked they would say they love teaching the art to others as long as it is not misused. Pithora paintings are divine and their form should never be changed. Many organizations work for the betterment of the Rathwas and to give exposure to this dying art and various allied fields.
This varied heritage of the Rathwas should be definitely preserved as they add one of the brightest colors to the wide-ranging colors of Gujarat.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=Pithora:%20The%20aura%20of%20life%20beyond%20paintings_43