Udayani (Awakening) – A Jesuit-managed NGO, is trying hard to preserve and promote various dance forms of the Santhal tribe. These tribal dances are on the verge of extinction. Sanhtal is among the biggest ethnic tribes in India. They are found in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkand, Odisha, West Bengal and in neighboring countries of Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
As per Rev. Fr. Jothi, sj, Director of Udayani, “the young generation is confused about their identity amid increasing influence of music and dance forms in the market. Since Udayani has been working among the Dalit and Tribal (Santhal) women in South Bengal, we felt the need to preserve, protect and promote the beautiful Santhal culture.We have been having Santhal dance completions in each block, where we work. The competition is organized by Santhal and non-Santhal Self Help Group (SHG) members alike,”
Basically there are eight dance forms with the music accompanying the songs with drums; Tumda and Tamak. Flute is one of the preferred musical instruments. Dong, Baha, Langde, Dahar, Karam, Dassai, Danta, and Sadpa are the different forms of Santal dances. Generally they dance in a particular place called ‘Akhra’ or ‘Jaher’ but a dance like Dahar is danced on the road.
After the competition all members are given a chance to have community dance on the open space so that everyone participates in the pride of Santals and appreciates. The competition has revived people’s interest in their tradition.
Udayani so far has organized five such competitions in June 2018 and plans to organize many more.