March 1998. Editor: Anjum Katyal
The Naqqals of Punjab, a traditional rural community of performers, are followers of the goddess Jawala Mai. They perform the Ramleela, they enact and recite the stories of the Sikh sants and gurus, they perform at gurdwaras. When asked about this multi-religiosity, they answer: caste and religious divisions are man made. Aalkaap is a popular performance form in rural Bengal and parts of Bihar. Performances begin with invocations to Hindu devis and devtas, even by Muslim troupes. Mogal Tamsa, a rural performance tradition of eastern Orissa dating back to the 18th century, brought both Hindus and Muslims together before the local Shiva temple on Sankranti day. These examples of performance traditions which comfortably transgress what we are being taught are barbed-wire barriers between different systems of religious belief, are just a few of the many performance forms which, on the ground, affirm our centuries-old history of sophisticated acceptance of difference, of the other. This is a history which has always existed alongside and despite all our other histories of repression, hostility and dominance. As polarizations intensify, as increasingly strident claims to a definitive 'tradition' and 'heritage' multiply, such performance forms need all the more to be cherished, positing as they do an alternate, equally indigenous, tradition of humanistic tolerance and syncretism.
CONTENTS 'Unpeeling the layers within yourself' Neelam Man Singh Chowdhury A Gatka Workshop: A Participant's Report Ramanjit Kaur The Myth beyond Reality: The Theatre of Neelam Man Singh Chowdhury Smita Nirula The Naqqals: A Note 'The Performing Artist belonged to the Community rather than the Religion' Neelam Man Singh Chowdhury on the Naqqals 'You have to Change with the Changing World' The Naqqals of Punjab Reviving Bhadrak's Mogal Tamsa Sachidananda and Sanatan Mohanty Aalkaap: A Popular Rural Performance form Arup Biswas A Dialogue with England An interview with Jatinder Verma The Challenge of Binglish: Analysing Multicultural Productions Jatinder Verma Meeting Ghosts in Orissa down Goan Roads Vinayaka Naik Download the complete issue here