She rehearses here Pala performance all night | Milaap
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A musician in Pala Troupe

Written by Moumita Publish date 08-Feb-2018
A musician in Pala Troupe
A musician in Pala Troupe

Minati attested herself as a homemaker. She does the regular cooking and cleaning and looks after her family’s well-being. Like all mothers, she wishes success for her sons and wants them to join a private company. In her opinion, Government jobs are too bureaucratic and do not pay enough to sustain oneself. It was only when I specifically asked her why she took a loan for the lamp, that I got to know that Minati is a full-time musician. She is a Pala singer in the Odiya Sanskreeti Pala Troupe. In fact, she is the lead singer in the troupe. A Pala troupe has a principle gayak (singer) and other palias (singers who play cymbals). Pala is about a four hundred years old folk theatre that is practically fast losing its ground. It has a unique blend of the harmonious existence of Hindu-Muslim unity and at times depiction of various characters from the Hindu mythology. When I asked Minati, how she got into this music genre, she revealed that it was this blend of music and literature that influenced her. By literature, I mean the stories that she heard from her grandparents about the gods and goddesses. When she got a chance to use those stories for mass appeal, there was no second thought. Minati soon formed her own group, and till date, it is the only Pala group in Atagarh. They perform on ceremonial and other auspicious occasions. She manages six other staffs and singlehandedly choreographs every show. Her troupe and she has spread their horizon in 22 districts so far where they have been well appreciated. Minati practices the entire performance under the solar lamp. She took the lamp for the extension of her Pala performance and doing away with the repeated interruptions in rehearsals due to blackouts. She was frustrated with the break of the flow while practicing. It takes a lot of effort and drill to set the play to perfection. The whole night rehearsal is possible only because of the solar lamp. When Minati and her group travel to far off places they carry the lamp and follow the re-enactment. I recorded a small piece of the act while talking to her, and it was a living proof of her expertise. This solar lamp is a dire necessity to encourage the efforts of a village woman to vivify an ancient culture.

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