Daskathia artistes seek fair deal

Staff Reporter

BERHAMPUR: The ‘Daskathia’ artistes of Orissa on Sunday asked the State government to establish a Daskathia institute to save the unique folk art form.

They made this demand during their State-level conference organised in the city. The conference was organised by the ‘Nikhil Utkal Daskathia Kalakar Sangh (NUDKS)’. Around 100 Daskathia troupes from eleven districts participated in the conference. State Minister for Panchayat Raj, Information and Public Relations Prafulla Samal attended the open session of the conference as the chief guest. The Daskathia artistes handed him a memorandum regarding measures that can be taken to protect Daskathia in the midst of modern forms of entertainment.

Fifteen veteran Daskathia artistes of the State were honoured.

The general secretary of the NUDKS, Upendra Panigrahi, said they wanted the State government to revise the charges for their shows. The Central government is paying Rs. 1,200 per show to Daskathia troupes for their performances in rural areas to popularise developmental projects.

But the State government is paying Rs. 300 per show to the troupes. This rate has not been revised since 1986.

The Daskathia artistes alleged that they were also being ignored by the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi as no Daskathia artiste was included in its committee and Daskathia artistes were not considered for its award.

Mr. Panigrahi said it was high time for the State Culture Department to come up with an institute of Daskathia to protect the authenticity of this folk art form.

Some senior Daskathia artistes can run the institute.

During the conference discussions were held regarding the changes that could be brought in keeping the traditionality intact to meet the changing tastes of audience. Different troupes demonstrated the experimentations they had made in recent past.

Poetic narration

Daskathia is a traditional form of story telling where two artistes make poetic narrations from the timeless epics.

The only musical instruments used by them are small sticks of wood. Rhythmic music is generated from these sticks. While the main performer called Gayak holds two of these stick musical instruments in both hands, which are called ‘Ramtala’. The assistant performer called ‘palia’ uses a two-stick instrument called Daskathi. The Daskathia artistes claim their folk art form has generated from the monkey god, Hanuman. As per the myth Hanuman had used small sticks or ‘Daskathia’ to add rhythm to his singing while he was searching for Sita in Lanka.

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