Heart to Heart with Folk Artist Deepan

Coming to you on the 4th of December 2021….
Ghantasala 99: Folk Art Festival: Going down memory lane with the Golden voice of Sri. Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao.
Hear from our Tamilnadu Folk Artists Leader, Mr. Deepan, about the opportunity provided for the artists. The main purpose of the folk arts was being the pulse of the community; however, this purpose is slowly fading away and the folk arts are being relegated to show pieces at events. Added to it is the trying times that Covid has brought on society. Many of the artists are facing dire conditions for lack of opportunities.
Ghantasala 99- Folk Art Festival, has been our endeavour to offer these artists an opportunity and a forum to showcase their art on a diverse platform. Stay tuned with us for more videos …. the countdown to tribute day has begun!

Folk Arts – An Expression of Culture and Community

The Origins of Folk Arts:

The Folklores and the folk arts share a close nexus. They form the oral, intangible heritage of humanity. They have found a place in the pages of antiquity at amphitheaters, courts of Kings, festive gatherings, operas, the arenas. These places have resulted in narratives of Iliad and Odyssey. Drawing a parallel are the mythological narratives of Vyasa’s Mahabharata and Valmiki’s Ramayana from our Indian sub-continent.

How did these narratives remain in existence and familiar across generations and time? The answer to that would lie in the clinking of the bells of the travelling folk performers.

Now relegated to showcase performances at events, the origins of the folk arts had a far greater purpose and design. It was a medium of expression and communication. Folk arts brought together communities and was insightful of the cultural life of the community.  Firstly, it instilled morals in society and was the bearer of news. Secondly, it was a unifier of the community and a mode of entertainment, and finally, a means of celebrating the harvest in the agrarian society of Bharath.

India, is a country rich in culture, heritage and customs . The same holds good for her rich folk arts. Being a large country, she is diverse in population and diverse in folk arts.  The performers of the arts are described as practitioners of the arts. In the case of folk performers, the sons and daughters of the soil, they live their art. It is literally embossed into their existence.

Forms of Folk Art:

Rural folk form of India is a treasure trove of folk art, theatre, music, dance, art and craft. The folk-art forms satisfy our innate need for self-expression. India is a powerhouse of performing arts, a multi-hued ritual that showcases talent like nothing else. Showcasing resplendent costumes, dazzling jewelry, quaint adornments and traditional practices, the art forms sew a cultural lore. If we were to delve deep into the regions based on the directions, we would find a huge repository of the arts in each of the regions.

In the north we would encounter Dumhal in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh’s Nati,Mayur Nritya and Raas Leela of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana’s Dhamyal, Matka dance of Madhya Prdaesh, Punjab’s Bhangra are some of the folk forms of the region.

The western parts of India, we have Tamasha performers, tera thali of Rajasthan, Dandiya , Pavri nach, Lavani and more.

In eastern India you will find Gambhira from West Bengal, Bideshya from Bihar/ Chattisgarh, Chhau from Odisha,Bihu from Assam, Jhumar from Jarkhand, the seven sister States bring us the folk dances like Aji Lamu, the Chalo dance and the Pasi Kongi, to name a few.

And in the south of India we have our own Yakshagana of Karnataka and Andhra/ Telangana, Lambadi, Dappatam, Vilasaninatyam from Andhra and Telanagana, Mayil attam, puli attam, pam attam, poi kal kudurai, Marakkaal aattam from Tamil Nadu, Theyyam, Paddeni from Kerala and more.
It would be interesting to note that some of the folkart forms have managed to trickle their way into the more structured format of the classical art forms. The performances of the mayilattam (peacock dance), pamattam (snack dance) are some such examples.

Current Reality of Folk Arts:

The folk arts have had to compete for the space and the attention of the community with the passage of time and  development of technology. It must not be forgotten that these art forms too form a part our who we are- our heritage. The pandemic and the extended lockdown, caused adverse effects on the household of these folk artists. As a result, the artists have now resorted to manual labour  to make ends meet and for food . The pandemic has forced these performers to take on new promps for a living…the hand that held the kollatam now bears a shovel, the head that donned the prop keeridam (crown) now carries a mortar pan, the feet that adorned the dancing anklets now covered with construction dust and the rhythmic notations of performances replaced by the clanking sound of stone cutting.  It is an unfortunate reality.

This year’s Ghantasala tribute organized by Smt. Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala and her organization Kala Pradarshini is a folk-art festival. It has offered opportunities to around 50 folk artists to perform to the songs of Sri Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao. It is the endeavour of the organization to keep the art forms alive and to offer these artists an avenue to showcase their art.

The folk forms are a language that resonates with the common man. Irrespective of the education, economic background or the actual language they speak. It has a universal appeal. Folk arts are  seeped in ancestry and not modern. They are an art form and not defined as classical. They are rustic and not refined. The folk art forms carry within them the pulse of a nation, our history and the essence of our existence in humanity.

Written by: Nandita Ramesh

It’s October and It’s time for Dussehra

Our Festivals: Our Heritage

India is an evolving country making  steadfast footing into modernization, development and scientific advancement. Yet it is a country that does not compromise on its rich cultural and traditional heritage.

Our traditional festivities still keep us rooted to our heritage, beliefs, our origins and our customs. This is the great unifier across the generations as most of our customs calls for the involvement of the entire family and in some cases an entire community…it transcends across the settings whether it be home, work or even an institution. Being an artist and also running a dance school in Chennai, Dussehra or Navrathri has always been an important festival for me.

Vijayadasami : The Auspicious Day

Dussehra like many other Indian festivals is the celebration of the triumph of good over evil and the prayer for a prosperous and positive new beginning. Vijayadasami, brings to a close the nine-day festival. It is particularly of great significance to the pursuers and the endowers of knowledge (regardless of the genre of knowledge). Vijayadasami is an auspicious day, for making a new start in any art form or learning. It is also a day to celebrate the attainment levels of the students who have been practicing the arts and a day to pay respects to the Guru.

Our celebration at Kala Pradarshini

At Kala Pradarshini, the students come together to showcase their attainments on the day. The students come dressed in the traditional pavadais or half sarees/ sarees based on their age group…. bright, cheerful, bejeweled and feet adorned with the salangai. While the attainment of knowledge is a continuous process and involves hours of rigorous practice and years of dedication to the art, the reason to celebrate the festivities brings with it a separate charm, vibrancy and a wonderful avenue to showcase the dexterity of the learners.

While the pandemic has kept us all indoors for the most of 2020. The year 2021 brought with it new hope and like the significance of Dussehra a wish for the end of the virus and the dawn of new beginnings. A new beginning in every avenue including the performing arts. A new beginning that still allows us to be connected to our culture and our heritage – one that remains unparallel to any other in the world.

Wishing you all dear readers the very best of wishes, health, happiness and prosperity this festive season.

Happy Dussehra!

For enquiries we can be contacted at: Kala Pradarshini

No.18, Poes Road, 1st Street, Teynampet, Chennai – 600 018

+91 44 2431 0709 | +91 98401 57090

Kala Pradarshini Natya Festival 2020 celebrated 25th year of Natya Samarpanam.

Interesting and uniquely Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala curates every year Saint Thyagaraja Pancharatna Krithis, performed by senior dancers, couple dancers, mother and daughter, groups and solos.

Read More Kala Pradarshini Natya Festival 2020 celebrated 25th year of Natya Samarpanam.

The Natya Festival – Glorious 40 Years of Dance

My dear readers,

Thank you for being with me all the way.
Sunday, 20th Jan. would be the Day 3 of the Natya Festival. This is an important day for me because it will be etched into my memory forever. Today we begin the show with a very dear friend and a wonderful human being. I will tell you more as we go on.

Read More The Natya Festival – Glorious 40 Years of Dance