Keeping alive a tradition through a dance form is Gayeki Nritya. The folk dance is performed by Gayeki, the sub tribe of Adivasi Samaj, a tribal group living in Betul district in the north western part of Madhya Pradesh whose means of livelihood is rearing cattle. The dance is performed on the sidelines of Govardhana Puja performed for seven days after Diwali. The pooja commemorates the lifting of Govardhana mountain by Lord Krishna protecting the people and cattle of Vrindavan from the heavy downpour initiated out of wrath of god Indra, which continued for seven whole days.
“The pooja is done to please god Indra and for the prosperity of our place” says Mohammed Salamuddin, president of Lok Sanskriti Samithi in Betul, an organisation which promotes Gayeki Nritya. In the dance, females do not participate.
An ensemble of instrumental music in Gayeki Nritya may make us tap our feet in accordance with its rhythm. In the dance form there are no vocals and the instruments comprise percussion and wind instruments. Flute, drum (dhol), timki (a folk drum), jhanj and singi, using the horn of cow accompanies the performance.
The dance form is attractive for the special traditional costumes made of natural material. An interesting apparel is Jhool, a jacket that resembles a mesh with black threads hanging down. On close observation we find that it is made using the hairs of a cow’s tail.
The hanging part of Jhool which is decorated using white shells creates a whirling effect when the dancer moves in a circular fashion. They also wear a turban colourful kurta, dhoti and ghunghru along with a string of bells.
The 20-member team was in the city recently at Jagaran Bharath youth camp organised by Kerala State Youth Welfare Board.