BHUBANEWAR: When Guru Dhyanananda Panda (41) arrived in New Delhi earlier this month, he was a happy man. It was not his first visit to the national capital, but it was surely the most special, as his students will perform “Bajasal” or “Bihasal”, a folk dance from the Kalahandi district, during the parade of the feast of the Republic on Rajpath.
“It is a matter of pride for us to play in front of President Ram Nath Kovind,” said a moved Panda.
As the name suggests, ‘Bihasal’ is traditionally performed at weddings. Young boys and girls alternately sing songs, dance to music, and tease each other as part of the show. Nowadays, it is also performed during functions.
“Usually we play for 15 to 20 minutes. On January 26, we will only dance to music. No song will be sung. We were given three minutes to put on our performance, ”said Panda, who said the art of dancing is passed down from generation to generation.
On Republic Day, the dance will be performed by a troupe of 80 – 52 men and 28 women – from Pratibha Anusthan, Bhawanipatna, an organization led by Panda. The performers, aged 15 and over, will play the “panchabadya”, a set of five musical instruments comprising the nishan, dhol, tasa, mahuri and jhanj.
The selection process began in October 2020. The troops were asked to send in videos for review by a Defense Ministry expert committee. “The dance form was chosen because it is lively, colorful and belongs to a backward region of Odisha. We are very happy that the Bajasal group from Kalahandi has been selected, ”said Gouri Basu, director of the Eastern Zonal Cultural Center (EZCC), Kolkata.
The practice sessions at Bhawanipatna started on December 25, 2020. Currently, the group is in New Delhi to practice on Rajpath. “We practice from 8 am to 11:30 am and again from 4 pm to 7 pm every day. The dress rehearsal will take place on January 23, ”said Panda.
The troupe has performed in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai and even abroad. “Despite the cold Delhi winter, we get up at 4 am to join Rajpath for training at 8 am. It’s a lot of hard work, but it doesn’t matter to us, ”said Shweta Rani Patra, one of the dancers, who last came to New Delhi for a stage presentation there. is six years old.
The youngest performers polish their performance under the tutelage of Panda, who composed the dance. The performance was choreographed by Chintu Prasad Naik, who, along with Janmejay Naik, will lead the troupe. “We have to explain the dance to the performers through practical and theoretical lessons,” Panda said. The traditional Habaspuri loom and masks will also be on display during the show.
During this time, the troop takes the time to go sightseeing. He has already visited the Lotus Temple, the Qutub Minar and the Lal Qila. “Students also have to study for two hours each night because they cannot neglect their studies,” Panda said.