Tamil Nadu

Yet another cruel year for folk artistes in Tamil Nadu

Question of livelihood Folk artistes staging a protest in front of the Thoothukudi Collectorate on Monday.  

Hopes of folk artistes in the southern districts of good earnings during summer festivals (kodai) in temples have been shattered again this year after the State government announced a ban on festivals in view of the spike in COVID-19 cases. They lost their livelihood in 2020 and are not sure how to overcome difficulties this season.

“I received advance to perform in several temples. Now, one by one all of them have cancelled. We do not know how to make a living,” said nagaswaram player and naiyandi melam artiste Panakudi Siva.

Unlike others, folk artistes depend on summer festivals that take place during March, April, May and the first week of June, corresponding with the Tamil months of Panguni, Chithirai and Vaikasi, to make a living. Since festivals last year were cancelled, most artistes were asked to perform this year at the same temples. But 2021 has also proved to be disastrous.

“We are losing opportunities this year too. I had concerts almost till the end of June because many temples were organising festivals but now they may not take place,” said Mr. Siva.

“The festival cannot be extended beyond these months because of the monsoon,” he added.

On Monday, folk artistes in Kanniyakumari, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Virudhunagar districts submitted a memorandum to Collectors, requesting them to make alternative arrangements for their livelihood. Naiyandimelam, kaniyaan koothu, karagam and thappu artistes came with their instruments to submit the memorandum.

The artistes have been facing difficulties the last few years after chenda melam from Kerala made an entry and started being featured in temple festivals instead, replacing traditional folk arts.

“I got my daughter married last year and I had borrowed money for that. I thought I could pay back the loans by performing this year,” said kaniyaan koothu artiste V. Muthuperumal.

The artistes also requested Collectors to provide financial assistance, rice and other provisions through ration shops.

“The district administration should allow temple festivals and folk performances to be held in a low-key manner. We are ready to adhere to safety measures,” Mr. Muthuperumal said.

It is not just folk artistes, but pandal makers, owners of sound systems and garland makers, who depend on summer festivals to earn, and they have all been affected too.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 6:01:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/yet-another-cruel-year-for-folk-artistes-in-tamil-nadu/article34306424.ece

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