Journey restictions through the state-wide lockdown leaves puppetry group with fears of monetary pressure like final yr
The second wave of the novel coronavirus illness (COVID-19) pandemic has robbed Odisha’s puppeteer group of an opportunity of revival. The travelling performers suffered a extreme monetary blow final yr when the lockdowns confined them to their houses. They’re fearing a second bout of monetary pressure with a state-wide lockdown enforced since Could 5, 2021.
“The puppetry sector was simply starting to revive 4 months in the past. Inside days, the second wave struck, forcing us to desert our strings once more,” stated Ajaya Singh, a puppeteer from Palakana village in Kendrapara district.
The puppet artists and ventriloquists are invited to carry out in spiritual gatherings, weddings and different ceremonies throughout the state. “However such gatherings had been banned for the reason that onset of the pandemic. We at the moment are in misery,” stated Fakir Singh, a puppeteer from Kendrapara district.
The lives of most puppeteers rely on the monetary assist from villagers. They play easy tunes on rudimentary devices and use the dolls to inform profound tales drawn from folklore.
“I used to be solely 12 years previous when I began accompanying my father on his travelling puppet reveals. My puppets (regionally known as kundhei) are my fixed companions. However the pandemic has snatched away our livelihood,” stated Aswani Das from Mantripada village.
The state has round 5,000 puppeteers, primarily concentrated in Kendrapara, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Angul and Dhenkanal districts, in response to Ramachandra Behera, a famous author and cultural activist who has studied the well being of the sector. The variety of puppet artists has halved within the final decade and round 50 per cent of them are landless, he stated.
Those that had one other string to bow, managed to maintain themselves. However many of those artists have gone to mattress hungry through the enduring pandemic months, particularly for the reason that second surge earlier this yr.
“We’re nonetheless optimistic that the coronavirus will disappear and we’ll transfer from village to village with our puppet reveals once more,” stated Natabar Das, a puppeteer of Jagatsinghpur.
4 types of puppetry are often practiced in Odisha: Glove (sakhi kundhei), shadow (ravana chhaya), rod (kathi kundehi) and string (gopalila kundhei).
The authorities in some areas have been utilizing puppet reveals to unfold consciousness in regards to the nature of COVID-19 and the precautions to take.
“Now we have penned songs to advertise social distancing, washing arms and carrying masks. The viewers have responded properly to the messages delivered by the dancing the puppets,” stated Sangram Singh, a puppeteer of Kendrapara, who was a part of one such initiative.
The puppet reveals have additionally been designed to dispel misinformation, rumors and stigma across the illness, added Singh.
Puppetry is an intrinsic a part of Odisha’s cultural panorama and the state ought to interact them extra of their campaigns to alleviate their plight, stated Behera.
The federal government ought to present monetary assist and different assist to puppet artists who’ve been struggling resulting from COVID-19 restrictions, stated Rajankanta Das a puppeteer of Jajpur.
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