Pillar of Dalit art forms

Hyderabad Sept. 16: One of the most significant events in recent times was the World Conference Against Racism at Durban. People who are discriminated against converged and gave vent to their pain at being treated like pariahs. For the first time in history, people from the oppressed communities voiced their concerns at a UN conference.

One of the groups that participated from India was the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, a forum of members of 250-odd Dalit groups. Among these was the organisation Dappu from Hyderabad. Dappu, says Paul Divakar, symbolises the assertion and celebration of Dalit groups and Dalit empowerment.

Divakar is the convenor of Dappu. A very significant part of the Dappu collective is the cultural body Chindu perhaps the only Dalit cultural forum of its kind in Hyderabad, which participated in the world summit at Durban. Chindu literally enlivened the summit with the sounds of the Dappu, a musical instrument closely associated with the Dalits of AP. Although we have numerous cultural evenings in Hyderabad, there are few instances where we see performances of these forms of art that recount the rich history of Dalits except, of course, in the shows organised by the administrative units of the government, where tribal and folk dances and other related art forms get centrestage, Divakar said. Chindu, in association with Dappu, was set up about one-and-a half-years back. According to Suresh, convenor of Chindu, who returned recently from Durban, We are not a mouthpiece of any organisation, as cultural units generally are. Chindu treats Dalit art and art forms as a way of life, as a part of history and culture. He informs that Chin-du also conducts research and documentation of Dalit art forms. The aim is to build an alternative (Dalit) culture.

The organisation imparts training in Dappu dance and recently started the concept of playback theatre. In this kind of theatre, the audience writes its own play, and the actors perform spontaneously. The actors stand in the midst of a group of people and enact a story based on their real-life experiences.

People recall real events and share moments of anguish, pain, joy they felt, and Chindu actors enact it for them. Chindu has staged such shows in many of the 14 districts of the State, besides Bangalore, Chennai and at the Hyderabad Central University.

Suresh says of his Durban experience, It was a tremendous boost for us. The Zulus and the South Africans have such a tremendous body rhythm. We communicated with them through our own Dappus. They all understood the historic link between Dappu and the Dalits of Andhra. Meanwhile, Chindu is busy preparing its future course of cultural activities on the Dalit issue.

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Referred by:Benjamin P Kaila
Published on:sep 17, 2001
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