Hunger stalks Saraikela Chhau artistes with two years’ honorarium payment withheld

Entertainment, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, Kolhan No Comments on Hunger stalks Saraikela Chhau artistes with two years’ honorarium payment withheld 45

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Saraikela, Sept 30: The lockdown period has taken a heavy toll on the economic status and even when the unlock period has brought things back to almost normal, the performing artistes continue to stare through bleak corridors. The Chhau dancers are the worst affected with their honorariums withheld for the periods 2018-’19 and 2019-’20 although they are working on in the government projects on the stage of poverty.

The affected Chhau artistes called a meeting at Majna Ghat Shiv Mandir complex to share their tale of woes. Chhau artiste Sanku Mahto presided the meeting that was attended by his fraternity of dancers that included Nibaran Mahto, Tarun Kumar Bhol, Gopabandhu Tanti, Brajendra Pattanaik and others. They unanimously decided that they would meet the Jharkhand Chief Minister and make him aware of their miserable financial plight. They also planned to take the matter up in the Lok Adalat for redressal of their fragile plight.

As per the Jharkhand government’s Art and Culture Department’s programme, Chhau artistes have been working on the project at Rajkiya Chhau Nritya Kala Kendra in Saraikela imparting training in the Saraikela, Kharsawan and Manbhum schools of Chhau dance forms. But they have no not been paid their honorariums since the past two years leaving them and their dependents trapped in the throes of poverty and hunger.

The Chhau dance artistes have mentioned their hardship in writing to the Rajkiya Chhau Nritya Kala Kendra chairman-cum-DC, secretary-cum- SDO Saraikela, local legislator Champai Soren, the secretary of Art and Culture Department of Jharkhand government and the Chief Minister but no positive step had been taken.

It may be mentioned that in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the central and state governments had given clear cut directives that there should be no let up in the timely disbursal of honorarium so that no segment, including performing artistes suffered financial problems. In spite of the government directives, the Chhau artistes had been deprived of their incomes since the past two years which they said was indeed very painful.

The scenario for the performing artistes even with the introduction of unlock phases is none too rosy. Their chances of stage performances may be limited, if at all, for the imminent future. The artistes cannot perform before blank galleries or auditoriums unlike sports and without performances, they will continue to sink in the depths of abject poverty and hunger.

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