G. Natraj, a silambam artiste from Salem, almost gave up practising the art last year after the pandemic deprived him of all opportunities. “From practice to performance, we depend on public spaces. Initially, we didn’t take this pandemic seriously but slowly, we realised it was taking away our livelihood and the last two years were living hell,” he said.
D. Kumar, a therukoothu artist from Kundaiyarthandalam village in Tiruvannamalai district, had planned to teach this art to his son as well. Not anymore. After COVID-19, he decided that his son should only study and head to a city for a job. “I’m a fifth generation artiste in my family. We nearly lost hope to perform,” he recalled.
For hundreds of artistes like them who have been reeling in despair, the “Namma Ooru Thiruvizha” helped in reviving hope and opportunities. From karagam to silambam, the event organised by the Departments of Art and Culture and Tourism on Monday, witnessed several performances of traditional folk art forms in the State.
B. Chandramohan, Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism and Culture, said the event was held to revive the folk arts. “The artistes went through hardship these two years. Now, we want to popularise folk art and give it the same importance as any other mainstream art form. Usually, such events are conducted on a small scale but this time we wanted to celebrate it like a grand cultural spectacle,” he said.
Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu said at a time when folk art was losing its identity and recognition owing to the pandemic, such events rejuvenate the artistes and give them encouragement.
Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) P.K. Sekarbabu spoke.