ROBI CHOLO LATHI KHELI
• A country-wide year-long project to document, support and enhance ‘Lathikhela’ a martial art of Bengal, both East and West.
• Partner: Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy
• Expert: Tarun Prodhan (Sarabhuj Dance Theatre, Mednipore, West Bengal, India)
Mamunur Rashid Rana (Black Belt Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh) Shabbir Khan Biju, Lubna Marium (Shadhona, Dhaka) • Sponsor: Robi
• Duration: 1 May 2010 – 15 April 2011
• Location: 7 administrative districts of Bangladesh
Project To Revitalize ‘Lathikhela’
Besides the value of preserving traditional knowledge, which is the accumulated information, vision and philosophy of life acquired by local people in each place; given the fact that ‘lathikhela’ still continues to generate popular enthusiasm, a project has been taken up by ‘Shadhona – A Center for Advancement of Southasian Dance & Music’, a local cultural organization in Bangladesh, with the partnership of the national authority for arts – the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) – to revamp this age old art by first documenting the various styles of its’ practise followed by an infusion of ‘pedagogical knowledge’ to its teaching, entailing analysis and devising of a teaching methodology. The BSA has a countrywide infrastructure which will allow the project to permeate the benefits to most groups of ‘lathiyals’.
It is thegoal of the project to:
• Document the various styles of ‘lathikhela’ performed in various regions of Bangladesh and prepare a database of practitioners;
• empower various groups of ‘lathiyals’ with the benefits of ‘pedagogical content knowledge’ which will be formulated during the duration of the project, thus allowing them to reorganize and strengthen their performance thus revitalizing an age-old art form;
• generate an interest within the new generation to learn ‘lathikhela’ skills, thereby, ensuring continiuty of tradition;
• provide a national platform for the display of ‘lathikhela’
• and encourage the participation of women in the practice of ‘lathikhela’.
CHOLO PODDAR GAAN GAI
‘Podda’ or ‘Padma’ is another name for ‘Manasa’ – the Goddess of Serpents, greatly revered in the rural communities of Bangladesh, West Bengal, Orissa and Assam. Linguist and Folklorist A.K. Ramanujan proposes that, the dominant traditions of Southasia are the normative structures and reflect the public religions while the alternative traditions of folklore, bhakti and tantra are a protest against the norm, making them the anti-structure, reflecting the more ‘personal’ religion of the various communities. The enduring ritualistic performance of the narrative of ‘Manasa’ - the serpent Goddess - by the, mostly Muslim, marginalized communities of Bangladesh validates the above. These performances are enacted against a pledge, as an expression of gratitude for fulfillment of wish.
• Preliminary research on this project has been completed.
• We have identified around eight different forms of ‘Poddar Gaan’ or the ‘Songs of Padma’ under various names i.e. ‘Behular Lachari’, ‘Monoshar Bhashan’, ‘Podda Puran’, ‘Poddar Nachon’ in four out of seven administrative districts of Bangladesh.
On August 18, 2015 Shadhona & Jatrik initiated a project to encourage 'cultural tourism' by offering trips to Elenga in Tangail to watch 'Shaone Dala', a riverine, processional performance to pay obeisance to Manasa; and has also organized a 2 day competition of Behular Lachari in Bhuapur on September 18 and 19, 2015.
With the partnership of ‘Manipuri Theatre’ based in Ghoramara of Komolganj in Moulvibazaar District of Sylhet, On June 6, 2013 Shadhona started a 3 year project to teach Manipuri Dance to the Manipuri Community. Though the Manipuris of Bangladesh have preserved a rich treasure trove of music, dance within the rituals has a folk form. ‘Dhrumel’ intends to impart training in classical Manipuri dance style to help revitalize performances. The projectwill be imparting training in Manipuri performance and theoretical perspectives, besides looking into the making of costumes and musical instruments.On July 18, 2013 ‘Dhrumel’ presented its first performance at Ghoramara which gained much enthusiastic appreciation.
Some other productions have been ‘Bongshi Anurag’ and ‘Premamritam’ based on Bangla Vaisnava Padabali songs from medieval Bangladesh by Narottam Das Thakur et al. These have been presented in various Festivals and on Television. From June 2014 T.Brojen Kr. Singha started teaching ‘pung’ at Komolganj, with support from the India Bangladesh Foundation.