Bengali folk music artist revives dying art form in Jharkhand

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Tribal children paint Sohrai art on clay walls in a village in Baharagora, Jharkhand.

Ranchi, June 19: A young Bengal-based national award recipient of Jhumur (folk song in the border regions of Jharkhand and Bengal) attempts to revive the nearly extinct tribal art form of Sohrai in the districts of Jharkhand bordering Bengal .

Madhushree Hatial, based in Jhargram, who was awarded Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar (instituted by Sangeet Natak Akademi) in the folk music category for Jhumur in 2018 thanks to her confidence Moromiya (Bengali word for mysticism) was able to instill interest in the Sohrai paintings among youths in Chakulia and Baharagora (bordering West Midnapore in Bengal), Seraikela-Kharswan (bordering Purulia district in Bengal) regions in addition to villages in Bengal.

Madhushree paints Sohrai art on clay walls in a village of Bahragora in Jharkhand.

“I was inspired by my father Suniti Kumar Hatial (a retired teacher from Jhargram public school) who devoted time to preserving tribal art and culture in the bordering areas of Jharkhand (then Bihar) I tried to do the same in a bit more structured way through my trust in Moromiya to promote folk, tribal arts and ancient culture,” said Madhushree, music teacher at RNL Khan Women’s College in Jhargram .

With the help of her trust of 10 members over the past five years, she has managed to build rapport between the villages in Chakulia and Baharagora block of East Singhbhum district and also in Chandil sub-division of Seraikela district- Kharsawan.

Madhushree (centre) teaches ancient folklore to children in January in Chakulia, Jharkhand.

“In the past five years, there is a visible change now that young people and even women have started painting their pucca and clay houses with Bandhna Sohrai paintings (mural painting consisting of geometric patterns, animals , birds, leaves and flowers) Our efforts started to pay off and they started using natural colors prepared in the traditional way to beautify their homes,” Madhushree said.

Members of the trust taught the tribal art form to women and youths during the paddy harvest seasons and now women and youths in the village can be seen painting the same on their homes.

“During the Covid-induced school closures over the past couple of years, we have been trying to teach primary school children in bordering villages of Jharkhand the ancient folklores of Panchtantra and Hitopdesh and raise interest in the culture ancient so that they are not only dependent on the west. lessons delivered on mobile via the internet,” Madhushree said.

Fermented Mahua kept in a Chakulia village in Jharkhand.

Their trust has also attempted to teach women to prepare sanitizers and pickles from Mahua (an infusion prepared by fermenting mahua flowers found in villages in Jharkhand and Bengal).

“Usually the women prepared the mahua which was eaten by the locals and got drunk. We decided to teach the women to also prepare other items from mahua flowers, such as pickles and sanitizers, so that ‘they can also make a living without making people addicted to drunk drinks,’ added Madhushree, who is also a skilled chhau dancer.

She has also conducted seminars and workshops in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, and Jamshedpur on the revival of ancient art and culture.

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