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Folk theater flavor witnessed at Gaiety





Performance of various Himachali folk theater forms captivated audiences

Shimla-A five days long ; that is from March 1 to 5; folk culture festival organized by the art and culture group Platform at the Historic Gaiety Theatre’s amphitheatre, the Mall in association with the Ministry of Culture, New Delhi and Department of Language Art and Culture Himachal Pradesh finally concluded with a bang.

While informing about the festival Ajay Sharma, President of Platform said, “It was my sincere effort to make people aware about Himachali culture and folk theatre as youngsters are getting away from their roots. We have also organized the five days long exhibition for the people where we exhibited dressed and various native musical instruments too.”

During this, five days long festival people got an opportunity to peep inside the various cultural folk theater forms like Barlaaj – Kullu; Horingfo- Kinnaur; Kareyala- Shimla; Banthana- Mandi; and last but not the least Thoda and Harul – Sirmour.

Though the festival kick started on a disappointing note as the performance of Barlaaj can easily be identified with the story of Rabindranath Tagore’s poem A broken song where Baraj says with hands clasped, ‘Master, our days are gone. New men have come now, new styles and customs in the world. The singer along does not make a song, there has to be someone who hears. . . Where there is no love, where listeners are dumb, there never can be song’ as feelings of the performing group members were mutual.

Though the performance started with full zeal and caught attention of the people but unfortunately I was brought to an abrupt end due to lack of spectators left to enjoy the traditional musical performance. As S.N. Joshi a well known theater personality while sharing his views about each day performance shared “Barlaj is presented in two different styles in Himachal. The first is ‘singing tradition’ and the ‘lokgatha’ (folklore) is sung in Rampur Bushehr, Nirmand, Sarahan, Dutt Nagar, Nirath and Outer Seraj. Slow rhythms accompanied by music from damaru or khanjari generally do not appeal to the people if the dialect is not understood. There is no drama in it. It is the story of Baliraja who was a demon-king and had tried to capture the throne of Indra – the king of Gods, but Lord Vishnu dodged him by incarnating as dwarf. This story was sung on the first evening of the folk-fest but could not impress the audience. The second style of Barlaj is opera-like, performed in the lower parts of Shimla and Sirmaur districts. Because there is drama in it, it attracts the people. Had the organizers brought the opera-Barlaj, it would have been an enjoyable evening.”


“Karyala”, folk-theatre of Shimla, Sirmaur and Solan districts has crude humour in it and the beauty of it is its vulgarity (it is different from obscenity) – the language and behavior of the folk. All the swangs (crude comedy) was nicely portrayed and the Babu, in one of the swangs, with his broken English, stance and carriage was attractive. The second beauty of Karyala is impromptu dialogue delivery and quite a few dialogues were wittily coined there and then.

Whereas, Banthra the oldest form of folk-theatre in Himachal Pradesh. It is performed in Mandi and Bilaspur districts. Banthra that was presented here was from Shiva-Badhar area of Mandi district. Its beauty was its originality. It stuck to the tradition in costumes – even the garland around the performers was made of the remains of corn after taking the grains out. The crudity of Karyala was also visible in Banthra and it started with Devstuti (praising the God) and Manglacharan (auspicious prayer)– as it should – instead of the dance of Chandrauli as in Karyala.


Thoda is a battle-folkdance of Himachal played with bow and arrow. The imagery of fight between Shathi and Pashi with bow and arrow is reminiscent of what happened in Mahabharata when Kauravs fought against Pandavas. The beauty of this sport-cum-dance is the exchange of satirical words between the two parties but the open air stage was so small for this dance that the sounds of dhol and nagara drowned the words of the players and the clarity from those went missing. The words exchanged between the two rivals are interesting but those could not fully reach the ears of the audience. Moreover, there was apprehension that the arrow, though blunted, could hit one among the audience, so the players had to restrict their movements.

To wit, it was a commendable attempt to bring the folk from the villages to the town of Shimla but the venue selected was congested. Folk needs wide open space finally concluded Joshi.

However due to some reasons the Horingfo show got cancelled leaving many spectators disheartened. However the day ended with another much talked about controversy regarding violation of rules in the Gaiety. As few people who where not aware about the cancelation of the show found the poster announcing some other show which too did not take place and instead the man was seen talking in harsh tone near the performing venue yelling at the team member who were suppose to perform.

The exhibition turned out to be a best event as it was able to please all people and did not target any particular audience. The traditional dresses and musical instruments attracted people from all over the city.

Art & Culture

Amid Steep Rise in COVID-19 Cases, HP Govt to Open Temples/Religious Places from Sept 10




Shimla- The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh had reached 6830 by September 4, 2020. Yesterday the State reported 215 new positive cases with two deaths. The COVID-19 death tally rose to 48 with these new casualties reported from Sirmaur and Kangra districts.

According to the yesterday’s COVID-19 bulletin released by the State Health Department, highest 37 cases were reported in Kangra district followed by Solan (35) Sirmaur (33), Chamba (33), Mandi (32), Una (20), Bilaspur (7), Hamirpur (7), Shimla (8), and Kullu (3). Till Friday evening, the number of active cases in the state was 1815 as 4920 persons had recovered.

HP Health Department’s COVID-19 Bulletin for August 4, 2020 ( 9 PM)


Amid this steep rise in cases in Himachal, the State Government on Friday held a Cabinet meeting in which it decided to open temples and religious places from September 10.

 The Language, Art and Culture Department will prepare SOP in this regard.  Registration would be required for people entering the State till September 15. The quarantine requirement would be reduced from 14 days to 10 days. The District Administration would strictly enforce the use of masks and social distancing in the field, the government said.

The Cabinet decided to provide wheat flour and rice to the income tax payee APL Consumers under Public Distribution System as was being provided to them earlier on APL rates and provide them pulses, edible oil, salt and sugar on zero-subsidy on actual rates.

The State Cabinet decided to request the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India to sign Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) related to Affordable Rental Housing Complexes Scheme with the state government.

It decided to fill up 10 posts of class IV employees in Panchayati Raj Department.

It gave its approval to transfer Gram Panchayat Kot from Police Station Shimla East (Chhota Shimla) to Police Station West (Boileauganj)  in district Shimla to facilitate the people.

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Art & Culture

Himachal Academy Shikhar Samman 2017-18 Announced, These 4 Persons Would be Honored



Himachal Academy Shikhar Samman 2017-18

Shimla– ‘Himachal Academy Shikhar Samman’ Award has been announced for the year 2017-18, informed the Secretary Academy Dr. Karam Singh on June 6, 2020.  

The recommendation of the jury the winners have been announced, he said, adding that four Shikhar Samman (awards) would be given in the field of language, culture and literature for two years and Rs. one lakh each would be given to each awardee.

He said that for the year 2017, Prof. Keshav Sharma would be honoured for contribution in Literature and special achievements. Folk Singer Mohan Rathour would be honoured with Language and Culture Shikar Samman.

For the year 2018, Dr. O.C. Handa would be honoured with Sahitya Shikhar Samman, whereas Dinesh Kumari of Kangra would be honoured in Art and Culture sector.

The ‘Shikhar Samman’ is given to the Himachali writers in the field of art and culture and to littérateurs from the country who worked for the promotion of Himachali language, traditions and culture.

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Art & Culture

Video: Replica of Himachal’s Bhimakali Temple at International Surajkund Mela Becomes Centre of Attraction



Bhimakali temple in Surajkund Mela 2020

Shimla- The replica of Bhimakali temple in the ongoing 34th International Surajkund Crafts Mela has become the main attraction. The real temple is located in Sarahan of Shimla district and dedicated to goddess Bhimakali.

Himachal is a theme state for this event. A large number of people are visiting to see the permanent structure of the Bhimakali temple, which has been built in traditional style.

Earlier, in the year 1996 also Himachal was the theme state and permanent replica of Maheshwar Devta temple was set up there. Surajkund Mela Authority and Haryana Tourism has organized the event in collaboration with the Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture, and External Affairs from 1st to 16th February .

Besides this, five temporary gates and one permanent gate made in traditional Himachali style have been set up in the Mela ground, giving a glimpse of the state. Two-storey Apna Ghar made in traditional Pahari style has also been set up and a family from district Chamba is starting in it this family is providing the tourists with an experience of rural culture and lifestyle of the state.

Himachal at surajkund mela 2020

The stalls of handicrafts and handlooms of the state are also being much liked by the tourists. Various cultural programmes reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the state are being presented during the Mela.  A large number of tourists are also visiting the information centre set up at the Mela ground.

 The government claims that in order to attract national and international tourists, the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Himachal Pradesh is marketing and publicizing the tourism potential of the State.

The government claims such international level platform will help in the promotion of Tourism as well as rich cultural heritage, folk songs, handloom-handicrafts, cuisines of the state and these tourism-related products are the attraction for the tourists.


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