Madurai

Folk artistes flash SOS to govt.

Folk artistes play traditional drums in front of Thoothukudi Collectorate on Monday.   | Photo Credit: N. RAJESH

Rural folk artistes, who are staring at uncertainty after cancellation of temple festivals across the State in the wake of the pandemic, have sent SOS to the government as they are the verge of losing their income for the second successive year.

Festivals organised in temples between April and August give opportunities to karagam, oyil, parai, thappu, poikkaal kuthirai, devaraattam, paavai kooththu, Kaniyaan kooththu, villupaattu, theru kooththu, nagaswaram, naiyaandi melam, thavil artistes. Hence, they wait in great anticipation for the season every year. The income earned during the five months helps feed their families during the rest of the year. They also have to use a part of the money to repay loans.

When the lockdown was promulgated in March last, the folk artistes lost their revenue as festivals were banned in places of worship, where celebrations were curtailed and held behind the doors without devotees.

“Since temple celebrations were cancelled, folk artistes were not booked last year and we lost all revenue. We had to borrow to feed our families. Even as we were getting ready for this festive season with the hope of repaying our debts, COVID-19 again threatens to dislodge our livelihood as temple celebrations have been cancelled due to the pandemic. If we lose our revenue this year too, our families will get wiped out,” said ‘Thevarkulam’ Mariappan, treasurer of Tirunelveli District Rural Folk Artistes Welfare Association

He, along with other rural folk artistes, submitted a petition at the Collectorate on Monday.

When the State Government gave Rs. 2,000 as pandemic relief to the rural folk artistes last year following the lockdown, it was given only to those who had registered their names with the welfare board. “Hence, the Tamil Nadu Government should adopt the families of rural folk artistes until this crisis is over and use them for creating COVID-19 awareness among the public,” said S. Jegajeevan, director of ‘Thoothukudi Thamizh Panpaadu Maembatttu Maiyam’.

He also said the government should stand guarantor for loans availed by the folk artistes from private and public sector financial firms. “Some of our artistes cannot even repair their instruments due to poverty… So the government should help them.”

Before submitting their petitions, the rural folk artistes performed for a while on the Collectorate premises.

Similar petitions were submitted at Tenkasi and Kanniyakumari Collectorates.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 6:45:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/folk-artistes-flash-sos-to-govt/article34304225.ece

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