GUWAHATI, Jan 1 – Age is catching up with them and the struggles they have been going through to keep a tradition alive clearly show on their weather-beaten bodies. A group of Kamrupia dhulias expressed their concern on Sunday over the lack of concerted government initiatives to preserve and promote their performing art.
This performing art combines many things – acting, singing, playing different folk instruments and of course a lot of physical movement. A Kamrupia dhulia party may comprise many members, and the Nilakantha Kamrupia Bordhulia party, Nalbari that was in the capital city on Sunday has a membership of 22 at present.
“Despite all the financial hurdles in our lives, we are trying our best to keep this performing art alive. But we are ageing, and so worried about who will take over after us,” said Raita Das. He plays the taal for his group and as the income from this performing art is not enough to meet the needs of his family, he goes fishing to support his family.
According to Das, the young generation is not attracted to this performing art as they find no prospects. “It is but natural for the young people to opt for other jobs because this performing art has not received the requisite hype,” regretted Das, pointing out that all the members in his group were not financially well off, but still they continue to perform solely for the love of it.
Another group member, Atul Das who plays the bordhol and is into acting said, that this performing art which has so many unique features would be lost one day if no steps were taken for its preservation.
Most of these Kamrupia dhulias either work as daily wage labourers or go fishing to run their families. Arabinda Das, who is 50 years old and plays the kalia and the dhol, works as a daily wage labourer when not performing. “This performing art is a family tradition. I have retained it but am not sure whether my children would like to become a dhulia. They have seen the hardships I have encountered,” said Arabinda, declaring that love for this performing art has kept him a dhulia and will keep him a dhulia till the end.
The members of this dhulia party presented several breathtaking performances on Sunday that required both dexterity and courage. Though such performances require that they get a healthy diet, not a single member in this group can afford such a luxury.
“When there is a financial crisis in our lives, the villagers come forward and support us,” said Rajani Das. He plays the bordhol and also works as a daily wage labourer. The colourful outfits they wear make these Kamrupia dhulias forget the problems of a harsh life. But existence is hard for them and harder is the reality that stares at their face – a tradition that will meet its end if no succour comes.