Adivasi Adi Bimb Festivals: Silently but surely bringing the Adivasis of the land to limelight

Ratan Thiyam talks about his special bond with tribal communities and his efforts to showcase their creative side.

Born to parents with a rich legacy of art and culture, barely a year after India had managed to throw off the shackles of colonial rule, Ratan Thiyam had miles to go and missions to fulfil. With inborn orientation towards the arts and aesthetics, Ratan Thiyam has not left out any area of artistic endeavour untried. He is a writer, a poet, a painter, a theatre person adept at everything connected with it. […]

According to him, “Theatre is all about protest, with the highest involvement of aesthetics”. With a love for the underdog, Ratan Thiyam has turned his attention to the ‘world stage’ where his protest is helping to build a congenial atmosphere for the original inhabitants or the Adivasi population of our country. With his highest involvement in aesthetics and his belief in the words of Martin Luther King, “the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people,” he has always been curious to know what kind of art and culture exists among the tribal people. His tryst with them started sometime during the 1970s, when one day he had set off to the hills of Manipur. He climbed hill after hill on a journey of exploration. Fatigued and worn out by sundown, he stood on the threshold of a tribal home, and the boy from Imphal was welcomed with spontaneity. Hot water, steaming food and a warm bed was given to him for the night’s rest, at the cost of the house owner who had to sleep in a make-shift place. […]

“I was struck by their honesty and simplicity. I had the good fortune of seeing a tribal group perform a drama for their leader in which they mimicked him and his pregnant wife with the chief who also joined them in the laughter,” he said. He heard from them the stories of their roots, mythological tales with an original twist of their own. His search to know more about the Adivasis and befriending them is still in his agendas.

He is silently but surely bringing the Adivasis of the land to limelight. Adivasi Adi Bimb Festivals as he has named them, has already been held in several venues of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and recently in Chaibasa in Jharkhand. […]

A number of plays were staged by Adivasi groups and their success lay in the enthusiastic and spontaneous shouts of the audience. […]

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