With a backdrop defining the monumental legacy of the locale and music personifying its rich culture, the ongoing Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) 2016 on Friday featured a storytelling session which saw the audience from different countries mesmerised by the local talent.
The event, taking place at the Mehrangarh Fort, was for the first time hosting a storytelling session as the organisers consider that it has been an integral part of India’s rich culture.
With help from Vijay Verma, former curator of Mehrangarh Museum, and Nahar Singh Jasol, former director of the Mehrangarh Museum, the afternoon of day two of the festival saw a special focus given to the Chand recitation style of storytelling, stories in folk exploration of the historical and social context of oral story arts, their role in folklore, and stories in folk music and communities like Dhadi, Bhaat, Charan, Kawad and Bhopa involved in the tradition.
While there were groups from Barmer dictrict showcasing storytelling, there was an artiste from Cardiff, Wales, who shared her way of storytelling.
“When Divya Bharti (festival director) aasked me to come over and join the storytelling session, I was excited because this gives an opportunity to talk about tradition — tradition that needs attention and focus. So, I said okay.
“I feel listening is as important as telling. It’s magic when you know that everybody is with the journey and with the imagination,” Angharad Wynee told IANS after her storytelling session.
She also stressed on the importance of saving the legacy by finding ways of reproducing it for the contemporary audience.
“Such things are very rare in Wales, so we have to find ways of manifesting and reproducing it for contemporary audience to keep it alive. I suspect that is the challenge because the way things in the society are happening, that system won’t be there to support the folk artiste. So then the questions, what do we do’ Where is the audience to it and what’s the rational to create it,” Wynee wondered.
“I feel Wales artistes and indigenous artistes from Rajasthan can work something out to give it to next generation. Whatever one has to do, but don’t lose it,” she said.
Verma, who has written books on ancient culture, also feels the need to sustain the culture. Even at the age of 81, he is not willing to take a step back and relax.
“I have been doing this for long and I enjoy it. I feel it is needed to create awareness in youth for such culture, otherwise we won’t see this happening after 30-40 years,” he told IANS.
RIFF kicked off its ninth edition here on Thursday.
Children went gaga over the performance of the Bahrupiya artistes, artful disguise specialists. Also, the Kawa circus, India’s first Rajasthani circus act featuring traditional artistes of Rajasthan, kept the young minds engrossed and young masters from the Langa and Manganiyar communities bonded with the school children.
Almost 4,000 students came to witness the various Rajasthani folk forms.
The opening night variety city concert commenced at the historic clock tower in the heart of the city with a packed audience of over 3,000 people. The performances included the Algoza party of Satya Narayan and Jai Narayan along with male dancers Ashok Pahadiaya and Suresh building the momentum.
Popular songs from Rajasthan by the Manganiars sung by Bhuta Khan and Dayam Khan wowed the audiences.
International artiste Davy Sicard from the remote island of La Reunion gave a glimpse of their folk form Maloya, which is a unique amalgamation of African slave chants and rhythms.
(The writer’s trip is at the invitation of RIFF organisers. Nivedita can be contacted at [email protected])