Video | Swang Nritya, the drama of the Sahariya tribe: Songs and dance that spread awareness about social issues like child marriage, women’s rights, the need of education – Rajasthan

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Living amidst the forest in symphony with the ways of nature, the Sahariyas are one of the last remaining tribes of Rajasthan. This group of self sufficient people has lived all their lives without the use of modern day implements and speaks a local dialect called Haroti that is influenced by the languages of Hindi and Braj.

The tribe possesses rich cultural traditions a paradigm of which is the Swang Nritya– literally implying dance drama. It is an open air performance conducted by a group of about a dozen people and involves mimicry, acting, dialogues, songs and dance. Sequenced episodes of drama are punctuated by the singing of season specific folk songs like Langhuria, Fag and Rasia to the accompaniment of Harmonium, Dholki, Nagri, Ginghra and Majhira. Swang Nritya is commonly performed at the time of the festival of colors – ‘Holi’ and unique to it is the use of pronounced body painting and masks. The tribal history is brought forth beautifully in the strokes of vibrant colours on the faces and bodies of the artists and traditional headgear and costumes made from things garnered from the forest are also used.

Members of the audience are addressed in calling out to them and making them a part of the performance adding to its energy, vibrance and collective revelry. Themes are largely religious and mythological; for example folk tales of Lord Rama and Tejaji are recounted and the tone of the performance is celebratory. The contemporary form of this theatre has secular themes as well and during the course of one performance several themes can be brought about one after the other. Also, activism and health programs now employ the theatre-form to spread awareness about social issues like child marriage, women’s rights, the need of education etc. and about prenatal care and deadly diseases like AIDS.

Source: Sahariya Artists on Vimeo
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Date Visited: Tue May 27 2014 19:50:54 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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Learn more about the tribal cultural heritage celebrated in Rajasthan and the Sahariya community >>

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