Gandhi's Jharkhand connection

Updated: Jul 04, 2019, 08:07 IST | Shunashir Sen

An evening of music and dance will see the special connection between Mahatma Gandhi and the tribal residents of the eastern state

Gandhi's Jharkhand connection
Megha Dalton

Mahatma Gandhi had paid a visit to the Jharkhand area of what was then Bihar in the early 20th century, where he’d met Jatra Tana Bhagat. A tribal freedom fighter, Bhagat had a wide following that extended far beyond his own village.

And when Gandhi was about to bid him goodbye, the latter’s followers asked him for something that they could remember the occasion with. Gandhi thus gave the men the tricolour with a charkha in the middle. Then, when the women also asked him for souvenirs, he gave them the famous white Gandhian cap. That’s why if you visit the area even today, you’ll find that the women there don’t receive visitors with their saree acting as a veil to hide their hair, but with Gandhian caps covering their heads instead.

That's the sort of impact that the Mahatma’s teachings and philosophy have left on tribals from the state that’s recognised as Jharkhand in this day and age. Ahead of his 150th birth anniversary, NCPA is organising an event where a group of adivasis will commemorate this link through on evening of music, dance and story-telling.

Megha Sriram Dalton (in green) with a group of adivasi men and women from Jharkhand. The men carry the tricolour and the women wear Gandhi topis
Megha Sriram Dalton (in green) with a group of adivasi men and women from Jharkhand. The men carry the tricolour and the women wear Gandhi topis

Playback singer and composer Megha Sriram Dalton, who will lead the performance, tells us, "It is said in Jharkhand that one should speak as if he were singing, and one should walk as if he were dancing. Isiliye hamara event mein hum thoda naach ke gaayenge, aur thoda gaa ke nachenge. There will also be a bit of conversation where we will remember Gandhi Baba in a musical way. And all the performers will be dressed in traditional Jharkhandi garb, while two people — Rajni Bakshi and Vishwanath Sachdev — will essay the role of sutradhars, or storytellers."

The evening, then, will essentially be an all-round celebration of Gandhi’s life, but from the perspective of those marginalised sections of society to whom the Father of the Nation gave a sense of dignity that, these days, is seemingly being increasingly sacrificed at the altar of majoritarianism.

On July 6, 6.30 pm
At Experimental Theatre, National Centre for Performing Arts, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point.
Call 66223724
Cost Rs 200

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