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Traditional drum beaters Dhakis get ready for Durga Pujoo!

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Agartala: There are various traditional practices and artisans associated with festivities in India. Similarly, Dhak and Dhakies are traditionally an integral part of festivities in Tripura, West Bengal, Assam and Odisha where they got engaged from September to November every year. The traditional art of Dhak beating can be heard during the Durga and Kali Pujoo everywhere energizing people.

Durga Pujoo and Kali Pujoo celebrations remain incomplete without the loud beating of Dhak. But these traditional drum players (Dhakies) are facing the tough time. They need some kind of protection and assistance to keep this art form intact. Unfortunately, the crisis of these drummers was intensified due to the Coronavirus pandemic, however, they are preparing for the festivities braving the hard time as Durga Pujoo is just a week away. And festivities are incomplete without their drum beating and participation.

While visiting these traditional drum players during the festival season tells their story how they are getting ready for the Durga Pujoo with their meagre resources. But they are working hard to be prepared just before the festival starts. These Dhakies are preparing for the festival with this hope that blessings of the Goddess Durga will help to overcome this global pandemic.

A Dhak player who was very ecstatic over preparation for Durga Pujoo said that the Dhak beating starts from bringing Goddess Durga to respective pandals, homes and places of worship to immersion. This is an essential part of the festivity. “Can anyone imagine Dhunuchi dance without Dhak beating,” asks a Dhak player, saying that Dhak playing is an art which is passed from one generation to other.

Since this is a seasonal activity, Dhaki get engaged into some other activities for the rest of the year to survive including farming and other means of livelihood but during the Pujoo, they pick up their Dhak. It is passion for the people involved with this traditional art form. This is one of the main attractions of the Durga Pujoo.

Dhak beating needs huge energy and youths are the most suitable for this but this profession is losing its sheen due to its declining demand and inappropriate remuneration. Of late women too were involved in Dhak beating especially in cities like Kolkata.

Dhakis perform mostly in pandals of barowari pujas, starting from Vishwakarma Pujoo till Kali Pujoo but are most prominent during Durga Pujoo. Even a small pandal without the beat of dhaks is unimaginable. Every makeshift tent has a dhak. The nuances of playing the instrument are handed down from generation to generation, but the old rhythms are undergoing changes.

The rhythm is no longer as slow as in earlier generations. Nowadays, Dhakis opt for faster rhythms. Earlier, different beats were used for specific aspects of Durga Pujoo, as for example Chokhhu Daan (eye presentation), Patha Bali (goat sacrifice), Bisarjan (immersion ceremony), Sandhya Arati (evening offerings), Sandhipuja (worshiping at the conjunction of two phases), and so on.

Dhakis who cannot learn within the family typically take training under a guru to become a good Dhaki, as is the case for most musical instruments. Many young Dhakis nowadays are moving towards modern rhythms. Bikram Ghosh, a renowned tabla player and a patron of Dhakis in Bengal, says, “Some Dhakis do go the commercial way out of necessity. But most know the basic rhythms that have been taught to them by their ancestors.”

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Call me “Dada”, not “Sir”, Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb to employees

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Agartala: In what appears to be a step to boost the morale of the government employees, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Sunday asked the government employees to call him “Dada” instead of “Sir”. “Call me Dada, not sir. It enhances the warmth of the relationship”, Deb told a gathering of government employees.

Deb exhorted the government employees of the state especially ASHA and Anganwadi workers of the state asking them not to dishearten as the state government was eager to improve their pay structure.

“I salute the ASHA and Anganwadi workers of my state. The level of dedication that my sisters have shown during the pandemic period deserved applause. I know, they want to hear good news from me and I am assuring you all that this government will not disappoint anyone”, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told a gathering of government employees at Badharghat sports school field organized by Vivekananda Vicha Manch (VVM).

VVM has emerged as a big platform of government employees, of late, and Sunday’s public rally was its first big gathering to thank the Chief Minister for the series of steps his government took for the welfare of the employees.

“I know what challenges you people are facing. Nothing is hidden in front of me. I am assuring you all everything will be taken care of in the due course of time”, he added.  Lauding the efforts of government employees Deb said, without them no government office can function.

“Due to the efforts of government employees, people can access the benefits of the state sponsored welfare schemes. But, for a prolonged period the employees did not get their right to do something freely. They were trapped in the clutches of unions. In the previous regime, Left sponsored unions used to enjoy supreme power which had reduced the whole work culture of the state to tatters. In 2018, you people showed courage and voted BJP to power”, said Deb.

“Despite fund constraints, the state government is positively working on the issues of DA and other factors pertaining to the interest of the government employees. Our government has already addressed a number of issues related to financial benefits. The ad-hoc promotion, increment for Group D, Group C employees, regularization of SSA teachers, seventh pay scale, UGC scale for professors, special benefit for LTC are to name a few. All these indicate what we want to do and we shall do what we promise”, the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister also asked the officials not to call him “sir” suggesting them to refer to him as “Dada” as it makes the relationship stronger and cherished. The Chief Minister also distributed clothes among children of Badharghat sports school during the programme. State BJP President Manik Saha, Minister Ram Prasad Paul, Minister Sushanta Chowdhury, MLA Mimi Majumder, state BJP Vice President and president of Vivekananda Vichar Manch Rajib Bhattacharjee also spoke on the occasion.

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