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Art & Culture

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

Wah Re Corona: Himachali Folk Artist’s Lyrical Satire is Factual Rendition of India’s Agonizing Catastrophe



wah re corona

Shimla-Otherwise blatantly vocal and distinctively mass-mobilizing government of India is suddenly in the most subdued self after its proclaimed victory over the deathly virus; participation in uncontrolled election rallies; and permitting maha melas. The stalwarts are in the hiding, while helpless citizens – who voted them into power not once but in landslide victories twice – are dying due to lack of oxygen, poor – unavailable – medical facilities, and the denial stance of the ignorant in the helm.

Drawing a comparison between the fatal coronavirus and the mismanagement of the entire situation by the appalling government; a Himachali folk artist has released a factually appropriate lyrical satire that will tickle your mind and leave you to imagine what has brought this catastrophe onto us. The song is written by Rameshwar Sharma and music by Lalit Sauta. 


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Art & Culture

International Mandi Shivratri Fair Begins in Presence of 150 Local Dieties



mandi maha shivratri 2021 pics

Mandi-International Shivratri Fair of Mandi district on the occasion of Mahashivratri began on March 12, 2020, at the historic Paddal ground. While Mahashivratri is celebrated for one day in most parts, the fair in Mandi goes on for seven days.

After Pagri and worship ceremony at Raj Madhav Rai Temple – abode of principal deity Madho Rai- begun the taditional Jaleb, Shobha Yatra. This yatra is held on every every year on the occasion of Mahashivratri. It starts from Raj Madhav Rai temple to conclude at the Paddal ground. This year, over 150 deities participated in the ‘Jaleb’, the traditional Shobha Yatra from almost all parts of the district. A total of over 200 deities have been invited this year.  

Mandi shivratri pictures 2021

Picture Courtesy: JairamThakur/Twitter

Thousands of people dressed in their traditional attire participated in the procession carrying their local deities dancing all the way upto Paddal ground.

Deputy Commissioner Mandi and Chairman International Shivratri Fair Organizing Committee Rugved Thakur informed this year as many as 216 deities were invited to participate in this fair.
He said that awareness Rath has also been included in the procession to drive in the theme of Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao. It was followed by the performances by pahari artists on the first night of the fair.

An increase of five percent in honorarium of Bajantries accompanying the deities was also announced.

Chief minister Jairam Thakur also participated in the Yatra and Puja (worship). The state government is celebrating the festival as Swarnim International Shivratri Fair to mark fifty years of Statehood.

Though the Chief Minister cautioned the people that the world hasn’t come out of corona pandemic and there is a need to be cautious, he himself participated in the fair without wearing a mask or taking any visible measures for social distancing. From the crowd, some people were also heard asking the Chief Minister where his mask was . 

CM Jairam Thakur not wearing mask

He said that fortunately, the number of covid-19 cases were declining constantly, which was a big sigh of relief. 

Chief Minister couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to speak about his government’s achievements on the this occasion. “Three years tenure of the State Government has been full of achievements and accomplishments,” he said.

“This year the Mandi Shivrati has gained more importance as it was being celebrated this year when the Nagar Parishad has been upgraded to Municipal Corporation,” Jai Ram Thakur said.

Further, various Departments, Boards and Corporation have set up exhibition at Paddal Ground.

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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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