Documentation needed as the present generation knows little about it
The firm bonding with traditions seems to be inadequate in preventing primitive tribes in Adilabad from losing knowledge about culture.
The need for documentation of the process and knowledge of the tribal culture can never be greater as the present generation knows nothing about the facts behind the folk tradition, including the Dandari.
Even old Kanaka Raju or Ghusadi Raju, as the folk trainer is popularly known, fails to give relevant details about different aspects of the Dandari festival that is celebrated until a few days beyond Deepawali.
He only says that the dance is a tribute to the Gond deities and gods.
“Id Raj Gond Koya rajal...,” (We are Raj Gonds, the Koya kings) goes the song that accompanied the rhythmic Dandari dance performed by Gonds in Pittaguda and Marlavai villages of Jainoor mandal as the tribal festival season got underway. The dance, as the BBC film ‘Raj Gonds-Reflections in a Peacock Crown' puts it, is a ritual of the Gonds' former authority and philosophy.
Having lost their Chandrapur kingdom to the Bhosle Kings, the Raj Gonds came to Adilabad around mid 1700s. As they had to live in the forests here, the fine tuning of their culture was mostly based on the environment.
The folk tradition, the dances and the songs, mostly refer to birds and animals that keep company of the tribes who still inhabit the once dense forests. The Ghusadi dance is mostly based on the movements of the peacock that seem to be a favourite with Gonds and Kolams.
The Dandari is the ‘kolattam' of Gonds as the dancers use the ‘kolalu' or short wooden batons. The participants usually dance in a circle to the soulful music from the percussion instruments called ‘vette' and ‘parra' and the reverential lyrics of songs.
The Dandari troupe from a given village performs in a neighbouring settlement by camping there for two to three days. The visit is reciprocated next year which goes a long way in strengthening the cultural ties between the Gonds of the two villages.