Folk dancing and puppets are used to promote the Covid-19 vaccine in the vast Ganjam district of Odisha.
An official said folk dance groups hold their performances primarily in villages in the district, also to raise awareness of the need to follow appropriate Covid behavior.
No less than 278 folk dance groups organized their performances in different panchayats of the district under the direction of the development agents of the block. The awareness campaign will continue for a few more days, the official said.
Popular folk dances like ‘Dasakathia’, in which performers use sticks to create music, and ‘Pala’ which tells tales from mythology, ‘Pasu Nurtya’ (Animal Dance), ‘Kandhei Nata’ (puppet) are used to encourage people for vaccination and educate them about its benefits.
The artists also perform other forms of dance such as “Prahallad Natak” (stories about Lord Vishnu’s avatar Nrusinha), Bharat Leela (dance based on mythology), Jodi Sankha (in which two connected conchs are used) to this end.
As folk dancing is an essential way to educate people to change mindsets, as well as to entertain rural populations, we have roped up folk artists to raise awareness about the vaccination campaign and appropriate behaviors for Covid, said Vijay Amruta Kulange. , collector of Ganjam.
Folk artists, who lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic, will have the opportunity to earn money through this awareness campaign, said Akshaya Kumar Sethi, district culture manager.
He said folk artists would receive their performance pay through the block development officers after submitting their invoices.
“Due to the Covid lockdown, the livelihoods of hundreds of folk artists have been severely affected,” said Prasant Kumar Padhy, vice president of Zilla Kala Sanskruti Sangh, an umbrella organization of folk dance groups.
“We are happy that the district administration has entrusted us with the outreach work,” he said.
Through the dances, the artists try to get rid of the hesitations caused by the fear of vaccines or the misunderstandings towards them.
They also stage their performance within guidelines, which limited a maximum of five artists in a group, he added.
“The day before a village is vaccinated, we educate people, through a dance performance of about an hour, on the benefits and encourage them to take their jabs,” said Bala Krushna Mishra, a Dasakathi artist at Sheragad.
“In addition, people are educated on the correct way to wear masks, wash their hands and the importance of maintaining social distancing,” said Alok Bisoi, a Ghuduki artist at Digapahandi.
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