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Chhau captivates one and all at Surajkund International Crafts Mela

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Ranchi: The sixth day of Surajkund International Crafts Mela 2017 witnessed visitors pouring into Jharkhand stalls in large numbers not only for its food but dances and other cultural activities that are at display at the Mela.

Jharkhand Pavilion today had a distinguished visitor, Padma Bhushan Rajeev Sethi, an eminent Indian designer and art curator. He is the South Asia’s leading designer and is celebrated for his contribution to the art and cultural heritage.

His work in design and architecture, performances and festivals, exhibitions and publication, policy and program, has brought contemporary relevance to traditional skills of vulnerable artisan communities and creative professionals. He is known to bring out the art forms of various craftsmen and artists and facilitating them to exhibit their talent on national as well as international platforms.

Showcasing India as a culturally, historically, aesthetically and socially rich country, there are prestigious works which won him awards like Sanskriti award for the field of outstanding social and cultural achievement,1980, the first Indira Gandhi Lifetime Achievement Award for conservation by INTACH(Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage),2010, and many more.

Ranendra Kumar, Director (Sports), presented to Rajeev Sethi, as a token of thanks, a set of Madhubani painting.
The spectators largely seem to enjoy nature and culture of Jharkhand which appeared to them as unique. Its unique culture is full of numerous elements of music and dances, without which Jharkhand is incomplete. The State’s cultural heritage, the first thing that comes on the list is ‘Chhau Dance’.

It is a unique form of masked dance, which is preserved by the royal family of the former state of Seraikela in Jharkhand. The dancers impersonate a God, animal, bird, hunter, rainbow, night, or flower. This dance is performed in three styles named after the location where they are performed, i.e.’ Mayurbhanj Chhau’ of Odisha, ‘Purulia Chhau’ of West Bengal and ‘Seraikela Chhau’ of Seraikela & Kharsawan District(Historically Odia Princely States) of Jharkhand.

The Jharkhand pavilion has also put on exhibition the art of mask making which is attracting a lot of crowd. Phalguni Sutradhar and Jagatsir Mistri are showcasing their rich talent in the mela by making beautiful masks made of paper and mud.

Jagatsir Mistri also stated that there are about hundred families in the village who have more than five hundred artists practicing this art. Apart from the mask being used as a major prop for the dance form “Chhau”, it is also used as a Nazar bandi among the households of Jharkhand. The mask is usually sold in pairs and costs around INR 500 for each pair.

The visitors are also enjoying Chhau dance at Jharkhand pavilion almost every day. The team head of the troupe is Prabhat Kumar Mahato who is taking care of their each and every need. Sitaram Mahato, one of the troupe members says that he has been doing this dance for almost 3 years. He also says that there are members who have been performing for almost 30 years. He belongs to the Choga Village of Seraikela district where the dance is being performed for generations.

The Seraikella Chhau’s technique and repertoire were developed by the bygone nobility of this region who were both its performers and choreographers and in the modern era people from all backgrounds perform it. Seraikella Chhau, is one of the rarest cultural heritage of India, preserved by the people of this area through centuries.

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