“Urbanites should connect and preserve tribal life, just as we should preserve nature”: Adi Bimb festival NSD Chairman Ratan Thiyam – West Bengal

On the sidelines of the “Adi Bimb” festival, NSD Chairman Ratan Thiyam speaks of the need to appreciate and emulate the wisdom of tribal people.

The National School of Drama organised a Festival of Tribal Music, Dance and Theatre, titled “Adi Bimb”, at Dwaronda village, near Santiniketan in the District of Birbhum in West Bengal recently. NSD Chairman and eminent director Ratan Thiyam, known for his proficiency in design, script and music and painting, was present at the event. Here Thiyam, a leading figure of the ‘Theatre of roots’ movement in India, recognised for his use of ancient theatre traditions and forms in a contemporary context, speaks about the thinking behind the festival. […]

A significant portion of the Indian population comprises the tribal people. The tribal culture of India and their traditions and practices pervade almost all of the aspects of Indian culture and civilisation. These different tribes still inhabit the different parts, especially the seven states of North Eastern India, and almost every corner of the land. The distinctiveness of the tribes is in their rituals, cultures, beliefs and above all in the harmony in which they survive in unison with nature. Their living perfectly depicts a well- balanced give-and-take procedure that in no way disrupts the ecological balance. The Adi Bimb festival of tribal music, dance, and theatre has been planned with the view of showcasing the reflection of tribal culture, lifestyle, costumes and attire, agricultural skills and techniques. About 600 artists from different tribes have been invited to present their music, dance and theatre. The exhibition showcasing the tribal cultural heritage of India is an important component of the event. It exhibits the rich heritage and legacy of tribal arts as well as musical instruments, ornaments, costumes, paintings from different regions of the country. Our objective is to have a brief peep into the socio-economic, cultural, spiritual life of these people to not only go back to our roots but also to see our present in a clear light and plan our future survival. […]

I chose Dwaronda, because of its beautiful natural environment. Dwaronda is also a home to a number of tribes. […]

The needs of tribal households are minimal, yet they live organised and comfortable lives. A tribal life is a product of the collection it makes from its environment. Some of their daily needs consist of bamboo, earth, grass wood ropes, iron, etc. These are also their vehicles of expression in tribal arts from which they chisel fine aesthetic art. The deep rooted traditions of tribal art help them to come out of their problems smoothly. In a tribal society their understanding and acceptance of their system makes them free from many unnecessary hindrances in their lives. […]

They don’t need gadgets, which is why they can enjoy life. They get comfort from nature. Tribal culture needs exposure — there-in lies the reason why urbanites should connect and preserve tribal life, just as we should preserve nature. We need such festivals to create awareness. What is in store, only future can tell. Coming generations should get the flavour of the soil. Tribal culture has survived for thousands of years. We need to preserve them and create a beautiful garden and leave it for our future generation.

Source: “Towards freedom from want” by TAPATI CHOWDHURIE, The Hindu, New Delhi, 13 March 2014
Address : https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/towards-freedom-from-want/article5780587.ece
Date Visited: 15 December 2022

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“National development and the development of tribal communities are linked to each other.” – Droupadi Murmu
Speeches by the 15th President of India >>

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