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FATE OF JATRA ARTISTS HANGS IN BALANCE

FATE OF JATRA ARTISTS HANGS IN BALANCE

 os-logo-pink-english-300x179JAJPUR, 18/12/2016 ( Odisha Samachar / Akshaya Rout )  -The fate of at least 30,000 Jatra artists hangs in balance in the state due to slipshod attitude of the state government and the invasion of other types of modern entertainment methods like television, internet and films. The plight of the Jatra artistes is a pathetic story. They normally travel from one show to the other, get a nominal fee or at times only some grains to cook their food. This hardly caters to their needs, what with mounting costs of makeup, costumes and other accessories, said Ananta Ojha a noted Jatra script writer, director and the president of All Orissa Jatra artists association on Saturday in Balichandrapur in Jajpur district  while addressing the annual conference of All Orissa Jatra Artists Association.
This form of entertainment has many aspects to its existence and if not patronized, popularized and shown to the world for its heritage, will slowly be a thing of the past, taking with it the livelihood of the artistes and the entertainment of these die-hard viewers, said Ojha.
The tastes of audiences have changed. Thus the demand for jatra has diminished to a great extent. Jatra performances are therefore being modified. Social and contemporary subjects juxtapose historical and mythological stories. Modern stage techniques are also modifying the manner of speaking, costumes, musical instruments, make up, stage, lights etc, said Ojha. The traditional Jatra had very elaborate rituals at the beginning of its season, which commenced with the harvesting and Durga Puja, the major religious festival of the Hindus. The Jatra season was connected with nature’s cycle, performances being held in villages during winter when harvesting is over. Growing urbanization has changed that pattern, said Ojha.
Jatra is an integral part of folk life. There are about 110 registered Jatra Groups but every year only 40 become active. This is the only source of income for almost 30,000 people, said Ojha. The peoples disenchantment with the performing art has in fact sounded a death-knell for the Jatra . While the younger generation has discarded the performing art, television has acted only as a catalyst
to people’s disenchantment, said Ojha.
The lack of sponsors too, has played a major role in it.
Interestingly, while the Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali theatres have survived due to their middle class audience, the elites and upper middle class have kept the theatre alive in their states. However, the state lacks both. The middle class is glued to the television and the upper middle class people have no time for the Jatras , added Ojha. Harihar Mishra aged 101 a former Jatra artist was felicitated in the meeting. About 500 jatra artists throughout the state attended the meeting.

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