Connect with us

Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

The Role of Musicians, Painters, Dancers During India’s Freedom Struggle

Presenting painters, dancers, and musicians and their unique productions as weapons during India’s freedom struggle

Published

on

Amrit Mahotsav

We’ve grown up learning that it was the revolts, the marches and protests which were an integral part of the India’s freedom struggle. However, a large amount of resistance and revolution began with the creative productions of music, dance, and paintings. Art has been a powerful tool of dissent and revolution. Many musicians, painters and dancers used their art to vocalize colonial India and its struggles, injustices and despairs.

We bring many of these hidden and unknown artists of colonial India and their patriotic art, which spoke loudly of the patriotic and nationalist sentiments, uniting everyone.

Singing The Country’s Blues: Musicians of Colonial India

During the 19th century, Indians wanted to identify the symbols of cultural identity in the face of a rising culture consciousness. This is where ‘Hindustani Music’ ventured in. Musician Vishnu Digambar Paluskar along with V.N. Bhatkhande founded the Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in 1901, which was the turning point in the modern era of Hindustani Classical music. Atul Prasad Sen was a Bengali musician and a composer who contributed immensely to the field of Bengali music. He took part in the work of ‘Harijan Uddhav’ promoted by Gandhi. His patriotic pieces, ‘hao dharmete dhir, hao karmete bir’ (be a hero of religion, be a hero of action), and ‘utha go bharat laksmi’ (Wake up, India), are worth mentioning. Dwijendra Lal Roy, another musician and a poet, envisioned a new India which was strong in values, culture, and economy. He wrote songs along with the same ideas, which harnessed the patriotic spirit of Bengal. Rajanikanta Sen was another musician who contributed to Bengali music. During the partition of Bengal, when the Bengali leaders boycotted British goods and products and only buy/sell the clothes manufactured by Indians, he penned the following lines: “My brothers, please accept the coarse clothing offered by your mother. As this is all your poor mother(nation) can afford.” The song became popular across the state of Bengal and boosted the Swadeshi movement.

Kavi Pradip is most famously known for his patriotic song, ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo.’ Another of his most loved patriotic songs was, ‘Ek Naya Sansar Basalen,’ which was also included in the 1941 movie, ‘Naya Sansar.’ The song became the ringing calls for an independent India. Dilip Kumar’s soulful rendition of Vande Mataram with Bharat Ratna M.S. Subbulakshmi in the 1930s captivated the masses and freedom fighters alike. Some of his other compositions include Bharat Amar Bharat Amar, Amar Moloyo Batashe and Banga Amar Janani Amar, which were important inspirational pieces of India’s freedom struggle.

The Canvas and The Sculptors of India’s Freedom Struggle

Ramkinkar Baij, often when he used to return home, drew paintings of the freedom fighters he saw there. Devi Prasad Roy Choudhary was an Indian sculptor from Bengal, remembered for his sculptures inspired by the Indian freedom struggle. He has frozen and immortalised some of the core moments of Indian history. At the Shahid Samarak (Martyrs Memorial) in Patna, one can find Roy Chowdhury’s sculpture of the students who lost their life during the Indian freedom struggle. The ‘Gyarah Murti’ in Delhi is a tribute to Gandhi and his ideals of nonviolence. 

Prodosh Das Gupta formed the Calcutta Group which believed in an art that was universal in character and free from older values. The authenticity of Indian culture and Indian philosophy deeply inspired him, and along with the Calcutta group, he incorporated this very fabric of India into his sculptors and other artistic creations. Gopal Ghose, under the leadership of Prodosh Gupta, also created art, inspired and rooted in Indian aesthetics and philosophy. During the 1940s, the artist transformed his style of art a little and produced sketches of the infamous man-made famine of 1943 in Bengal. 

Nirode Mazumdar led the modernist art movement during the 1940s. He created a series of paintings inspired by the widespread famine, one of which was titled ‘Anath’ (1944), which depicted homeless and starving children. Paritosh Sen found his creative energies inspired by recollections of a past world and the attempts to comprehend the present. Apart from paintings, his caricatures reflected strong underlying socio-political shades. Somnath Hore was a sculptor and printmaker, born in 1921. The subject of his art was dominated by the sufferings of the man. He extensively covered the horrific consequences of the 1943 famine, World War II, and the Japanese bombings on Bengal. The weeping mothers, starved children, dead animals, isolated village streets, etc., were spotlighted in his socially realistic paintings of pre-partition India. Chittaprosod Bhattacharya’s best work was his visual reportages on the Bengal famine in 1943–1944. He documented the British imposed famine through sketches, texts and linocuts. This Revolutionary popular art was a means to mobilise the masses. 

Asit Kumar Haldar was the grandnephew of Rabindranath Tagore. He belonged to the first generation of painters and sculptors from the Neo-Bengal School of Art. He brought the rich cultural heritage of India into his paintings. Haldar painted a whole series of 32 paintings based on the Buddha. A collection of episodes from Indian history on thirty canvases, illustrations of Omar Khayyam’s verses, interpretations of the stories in the Mahabharata, etc. all became a subject of his paintings. 

Benode Behari Mukherjee‘s popular creation was the mural called Mediaeval Saints, which he made on the walls of Hindi Bhavana in Shantiniketan around the eve of India’s Independence from colonial rule. The mural charted the history of medieval India through the lives of Tulsi Das, Kabir and others, and emphasized on their humane teachings. N.S. Bendre covered landscapes and figurative paintings but along with that also explored multiple ways of combining cubist, expressionist, and abstract genres from Western Modernism into his own work which stemmed from Indian formalism. One of his paintings of the Quit India Movement maidan captured the intensity of the freedom struggle and the unity of India.

Sunayani Devi was unfairly removed from the history of Indian painters. She was the younger sister of Abanindranath Tagore and Gaganendranath Tagore. She was a self-taught artist, often found spying on her brothers and tutored herself by watching them. Her subject of art surrounded women at their toilet, dolls, players, actors and themes from the mythic Radha-Krishna cycle. She was an important member of the Swadeshi movement art who brought Indian painting styles like Mughal miniatures and ancient Jain paintings into the limelight. 

Mukul Dey is the pioneer of Drypoint Etching. He travelled around in the West to study art and printmaking techniques. Upon returning to India, Dey had a bulk of new western techniques at his hand. With this knowledge, Dey modernised Indian art and its rich artistic heritage in favour of the rising Swadeshi movement in the country. He dedicated his life to the artistic revival of Indian art. Kalipada Ghoshal was also one of the Swedish painters. He was the last successor of Abanindranath Tagore. As a well-regarded student of the Indian Society of Oriental Art, Kalipada Ghosh produced some of the finest and intricate paintings of his time. Some of his prominent artworks are Shakuntala, Persian night, Hara Parvati, Budha and Rahul, Series on Krishna, Series on Buddha etc.

The Swadeshi painters rejected the western art forms, and by reviving the mythological and pre-colonial tales of India through art, they aimed at decolonizing India from the grasp of the British Raj.

Dancing The Rhythm For a Free India

Dancer Yog Sunder’s self-effacing dance productions made him very popular. During the pre-independence period, Yog was a regular participant in the nationalist movements. He produced and directed many well reputed dance productions. Collaborating and partnering with other dancers and actresses, he started the Indian Progressive Ballet Group in Calcutta in 1947. The Group had everyone in awe with the production of their well reputed programmes. Prominent among them are Birth of Freedom, Freedom Festival, Mahabharata, Voice from Beyond, Dances of India, Rhythms of India, Kiratarjun, Chandalika, Call of the Country, Rhythms and Melody, Ramlila, The Lore of India, etc.

Y.G. Srimati was not only a dancer, but along with that, a musician and a painter. She was born in the year 1926, and from a young age, she had started her classical training in music, dance and paintings. Post 1847, Srimati was invited to a number of independence rallies where she sang devotional songs. She had also sung bhajans next to Gandhi at many of his rallies. This she did in different languages to highlight the cultural and patriotic unity amongst the citizens of India, a value that Mahatma Gandhi deeply preached. Her paintings are a result of the influence of the heated independence struggle. She had explored major themes surrounding Indian religious epic literature and rural culture as a conscious expression of nationalist sentiments. Her paintings were also displayed at the MET.

Art and its expressions played a huge role in pushing the patriotic sentiments during India’s freedom struggle. The pre-independent Indian painters, musicians, and dancers added more density to the movement, and were equal participants in the fight against the colonial rule.

Comments

Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Odia Cuisine: A Food Paradise For Vegans

My fellow vegans, here’s your chance to indulge with us in some lip-smacking Odia dishes to aid you in taking the veganism lifestyle forward!

Published

on

Odia Cuisine

Veganism is a lifestyle movement that has taken over the world in recent times. It is a concept termed by Donald Watson, an English man. But Indians have followed this diet for ages. One state in particular that stands out for its vegan diet is Odisha. Odias thrive on a diverse cuisine that is almost always easy to make. They have some lip-smacking non-vegetarian dishes but their vegan game is not a joke either. Fun- fact many Odias that I personally interacted with were not even aware that their regular diet has a name, i.e., Veganism!   

What Exactly is Veganism?

Before we delve further into the delicious cuisine that Odia people thrive on, let’s get the basics out of the way. Veganism in dietary terms means abstaining from eating any products derived from animals (yes that includes cheese, milk and other dairy products as well). Although veganism does go beyond just food habits and is an entire lifestyle in itself, here we will focus on just the food part. 

What comes to your mind when I utter the words Indian food? There is a high chance that your answer is either, chole, biriyani or paneer, or idli and dosa. There’s no way that Dalma or Santula will invade your thoughts unless as a kid you dreaded it will show up for every dinner but have started yearning for it day and night as you have grown up.

Elixir of Odia Cuisine

I am pretty sure many people are still trying to understand what in the world are Dalma and Santula. A new cooking technique? A utensil? Probably some indigenous vegetable? An exotic dish maybe? No, no, somewhat yes and NO. 

Dalma and Santula are two such dishes that are so diverse that it will make you question whether they really are Odia dishes or not. They include some indigenous vegetables but the dishes are so open-minded that they won’t mind a bit if you switched out the quintessential veggies with the ones sitting in your fridge. 

Apart from Dalma and Santula the must-try Odia delicacies we also have Ghanta, and just like the previous two dishes, Ghanta is open to any change you want to bring in. And guess what all these three are super nutritious. Packed with just veggies and lentils they are the perfect pair for anything, be it rice or bread, they will never disappoint. 

Drool-Worthy Vegan Odia Snacks

When it comes to Odia cuisine all you ever need is the right blend of spices and the rest just falls in place. As much as we love healthy nutritious food there is always a part of us that does wish to indulge in those greasy sinfully delicious street food. Proper main course worthy food being vegan makes sense but street food being vegan is unimaginable… or is it? And what if I tell you that these vegan delicacies are even devoured by non-vegetarians with the utmost glee?

From Chaula Bara and Ghugni to Thunka Puri (a seasonal delicacy made specially during Bali Jatra, one of the most awaited fairs for Odias) and Aloo Matar Chaat (does include curd as a topping but it’s optional) these are just a few dishes that make every Odia salivate with contentment. 

For all those vegans who have a sweet tooth worry not, for Kakara Pitha, Manda Pitha, Podo Pitha, and an assortment of many other sweet Pithas are there to cater to your taste buds. Traditionally all these sweet Pithas are made using Ghee but nowadays many people prefer using oil making it totally vegan-friendly. After all this eating how about washing it down with some Bela Pana? A refreshing vegan drink made using Bael on the occasion of Odia new year or Pana Sankranti.

The Vitamin B12 Crisis

The best thing about many of these Odia vegan dishes is that they solve the no. 1 crisis of any vegan, i.e., acquiring Vitamin B12 from natural sources. From eating different kinds of Saga Bhaja to indulging in different variants of Ghanta depending on the vegetables available in your fridge at the moment, an Odia meal is well balanced for any vegan, plus no veggie gets wasted! Ever!  

Afterword

There’s a reason an Odia is never jealous of any other cuisine, if they choose to be a non-vegetarian they have an array of dishes to choose from, want to switch to being vegetarian, will still have a lot of options, thinking of being a vegan, well don’t think, go for it! Odia cuisine has got your back! Still conflicted about Odia cuisine, give it a try and see it for yourself! 

Continue Reading

Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Thiruvalluvar Day: The Ancient Wisdom Of The Tamil Poet

Celebrating the ancient wisdom and knowledge of the Tamil poet and philosopher, Valluvar, on Thiruvalluvar Day.

Published

on

Thiruvalluvar Day, Thiruvalluvar, Thirukural, Sangam, Literature,

Thiruvalluvar, or just known as Valluvar, was a Tamil poet, philosopher and sage, a person who transformed a life from rags to riches. He lived during the Sangam age of the Tamil culture, or more specifically, the Sangam period. Even though born some two thousand years ago, his works, teachings and insights still hold grave value even today. Valluvar has talked extensively on subjective human topics and aspects like love, justice, life, good and evil, wisdom, etc. On Thiruvalluvar day, let’s have a look at the poet’s personal life and upbringing along with some of must read written words.

Valluvar: Personal Life And His Philosophy

The exact dates and particulars of Valluvar’s life remain unknown. According to historians, Valluvar was born in the 1st century CE in a village near modern-day Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, or also called the city of Madurai. The name ‘Thiruvalluvar’ translates to ‘the devotee of the Valluva caste’. He married at a young age to a woman named Vasuki, who was described as a “chaste and devoted lady, an ideal wife, who never disobeyed the orders of her husband, but always carried them out implicitly.” The couple had a daughter together.

As stated above, not much is known of Valluvar’s personal life, yet it is speculated that during his earlier years, he worked as a weaver, while other scholars speculate that he was most probably a government official in a district near Madurai. Later, he lived in recluse near Kanchipuram, where he penned his most prominent works ever, ‘Thirukkural‘.

Thiruvalluvar’s philosophy circled around living a divine life of sanctity. While major sages and philosophers suggested leaving the family behind and becoming a Sannyasin, Valluvar on the other hand, offered an alternative. He suggested and fostered the idea of attaining a balance between living a life of a householder and that of a sanctified divine and pure human being. He recorded these musings in his book, ‘Thirukkural‘.

Excerpts From Thirukkural And Other Writings Of Thiruvalluvar

In ‘Thirukkural‘, the poet preaches the goodness of honesty, humility and compassion. To lead a meaningful life, one must know the importance of self-discipline, education and economic independence. His central virtue, and according to him, the foundation of all lives, was love and compassion for others. He truly believed that our attitude and behaviour for others must always rest on kindness and goodwill. Such a tenets and virtues would promise a fulfilling life.

Some of the couples from ‘Thirukkural‘ are:

“The wound that’s made by fire will heal, But the wound that’s made by tongue will never heal.”

“Just as the alphabet ‘A’ is the beginning of all letters, so also, God is the beginning for this universe.”

“Learn the Shastras completely and then act according to their injunctions.”

“The Anicha flower will fade by smelling, but guests are more sensitive if the hosts turn their faces a bit.”

“There is no greater wealth than Virtue, and no greater loss than to forget it.”

“The lotus’ stem is as long as the depth of water, So men’s height is just as great as their inner strength.”

“Death is like sleeping in the burial ground; birth is like waking in the morning.”

Thirukkural‘ is still a prominent book in Tamil literature, read and taught in the state. It is considered as the universal Bible. For his wise words and universalistic and timeless knowledge, Thiruvalluvar is honoured everyday in Tamil Nadu on the 15th or 16th of January.

Continue Reading

Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Preserving the Culture of India Through Folklores and Storytelling

Folklores and storytelling has formed the foundations of shared history, culture, and awareness amidst communities since ancient India.

Published

on

Folklore, Storytelling. UNESCO, Intangible Cultural Heritage

So many of us have had the privilege of good night stories narrated by our grandparents. These night time stories were often filled with interesting myths and morals, and were a treat to the ears, weren’t they? Folktales and storytelling have been with us since forever. They were a major part of our childhood while growing up. Have you ever thought about the origins of folklores and storytelling in the Indian culture and their significance? The most basic understanding of the ‘folk’ that we’ve is that they’re related to ‘traditional’ and ‘native’, and sometimes ‘rural’. However, folklores and storytelling have a more nuanced and diverse background to them, especially in the Indian context, considering that the country is rife with so many different traditions, lifestyles, and art.

Folklores And Storytelling: The Oral Traditions

Folklores and storytelling were oral traditions but thanks to literature, most of these folktales and stories are now recorded in written formats. Years and years of ancient myths, dramas, and rituals in the form of prose narratives have been preserved and carried forward from generations to generations. The posterity of India’s rich oral tradition could only be preserved because of all the scholars, saints and writers who wrote down these stories.

One of the widely read, known and loved tales we all must have read sometime in our childhood are the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, Jataka tales of Buddhism, Panchatantras and Hitopadesha. These moralistic tales are built around expressions of strong self-reflections, righteousness, socio-political realities and deep insights. While these are the most famous and well known collection of tales, India, in fact, has diverse origins of stories and folktales, from distinct communities and tribes.

Credits: YouTube (TED-Ed)

The Many Indian States And Their Many Legends

India is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Its regions have produced numerous stories revolving around a vast and broad array of themes, myths, rituals, and cultures. Most pertinent is the link between folktales and culture, which is very strong since stories from these culture form the very essence of their heritage and identities. Of course the tales from the north India have a different origin and cultural angles. Let’s take a look at some of folklores from different regions of India.

The folklores from Uttar Pradesh, for instance, were around the wisdom and wise words of maulvi sahbs. Meanwhile, Kerala folklores are a celebration of its origin, religion, festivities and temples. The legends of ‘Mahabali’ and ‘Parasurama’ are two of the most read stories from Kerala’s lands. The folktales of Andhra Pradesh are even more profound and interesting since they’re centred around family, and how the family create certain roles for the two genders: male and female. Most of these stories depict a heavy emphasis on women as the primary decision makers of the household. West Bengal, a state which has produced several artists, writers and painters, is of course a land filled with tales of faraway lands, of the kings and queens, demons, the evil and good, with most of these aimed at imparting a moral lesson.

When it comes to North East India, one must remember the geographical location of the seven states. These states are the home to pristine nature, tribal communities, biodiversity, and its socio-political girth. Naturally, North Eastern states have had a close relation with its surrounding nature, and a large number of these folktales are in fact a reflection of this interdependence of humans on its environment. These communities, through their legends and tales, communicate their wisdom on the conservation of nature, on livelihood, and culture.

Credits: YouTube (Folktales of India)

Preserving Cultures And Traditions Through Folklores

As mentioned earlier, folktales have been preserved over time through oral traditions. They were passed down from generations to generations through vocal narrating from the mouth. Understandably, ‘listening’ became one of the core activities of the folktales tradition. This imparting of stories, myths, legends, rituals, was an attempt at entertainment, of course, but more importantly strengthening the core values of their culture, history and heritage. The stories shared amidst a community resolved to create a shared sense of common history and traditions.

It’s not even the stories or the legends they narrate but the way they narrate these stories. For instance, ‘Kathakalakshepam’, which are stories with anecdotes, mostly in Sanskrit, Hindi and Tamil, are narrated along with music and dance. In Andhra Pradesh, folktales are narrated along with beating a drum. This drum is called a ‘Burra’, and, hence, the folk narratives in the state are referred to as ‘Burra Katha’. Meanwhile in Tamil Nadu, storytelling has always been accompanied with a bow-like stringed instrument. This holistic expression of art forms through music and dance is also what constitutes a major chunk of a community’s culture.

Folktales are the connecting thread between the palatial past and the boundless present. A lot of campaigns and efforts have been rolled out to preserve folklores through other mediums other than written records. UNESCO categorized ‘Folklores’ as Intangible Heritage Culture under category of oral history in 2003. Folklores have been adapted into numerous performing arts like folkdances, folk paintings and murals, to maintain this ancient oral tradition in a more nuanced way. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan, Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala, or the Chhau dance, based on tales of Mahabharata and Ramayana, performed by tribal population of Jharkhand and West Bengal, are some of the IHC categories through which the myths and legends of the past have still been kept alive.

Credits: YouTube (sadhya dance)
Continue Reading

Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Against Silence: The Oral Tradition of Kashmir

Learn the roots of the oral tradition in Kashmir and why it holds such a deep symbolic significance for Kashmiris.

Published

on

Oral Traditions of Kashmir

The thing about documentation is that it is privy to destruction. History, records, stories—their preservation is abundant in all societies, but in all societies there are running powers of manipulation as such that the narrative carried in them is blurred from wrong to right, truth to lies, and the reality is all but lost. It is here then that the importance of oral tales is recognised the most. Like a thread passed down from generation to generation, they bind people together and protect their truths. Because the things embedded in oral traditions—from language to the stories they tell, from memory to history—nurture connections within communities, affirming their identities against a backdrop of evolving social realities.

This realisation became the very essence of the conversation I had with a friend, Aiman. She grew up and lives in Kashmir, who too has listened to and relied on stories for purposes that have gone beyond the norm of entertainment alone. In Kashmir, this tradition called luk kath, the people’s talk, Aiman says, is as lively as ever, a breathing, relatable entity within which there’s a space to find belongingness. A token of remembrance that she, like many others, can cling to so as to never feel lost in their own home.

The Oral Tales Of Kashmir: Stories, Folk Ballads And More

Aftaab and Zoon, the sun and the moon; the mountains and rivers have all been part of the oral tales in
Kashmir, giving life to them and, in turn, rooting them to the things of the land. Like the legend of Nagrai and Heemal, which Aiman narrated for me in bits and pieces, a folk ballad with little similarity to Shakespearan Romeo and Juliet, or Laila Majnu. This tragic love story of the Serpent King, Nagrai and Princess Heemal, finds memorabilia in a river spring in a small park near the town Shopian. The tale used to be one of the many stories that comprised Aiman’s childhood, fond memories of chilly winter nights, where she would huddle together with her family and listen to her elders narrating the stories they too must have been similarly told.

These stories, like those made-up for children, come with a lot of animal imagery, ghosts and demons, scary wolf-like creatures called bram bram chok or wan mohniyu, a powerful, hairy human-like creature with long nails who is said to wander in forests. Female figures of witches, or daens, too are abundant, one of the kind being Rantas, a seductress witch with her feet turned backwards, known to eat the hearts of men. Of course, like all old things, they too have some problematic tropes running, misogyny and patriarchy being the one of many.

While there are also tales meant to teach obedience, and some others, morality. But like all interesting things, these folktales have served the primary purpose of nourishing imagination, the reason which perhaps for Aiman too fuelled her later fascination and reliance on literature—the lucky instance of interest that led to us becoming acquaintances in the first place. But there’s more to it, there’s also curiosity. In the narration of these stories, she found the space to learn the habit of questioning, the what and why of the way things are. She expressed how these questions, in time, became more important than they really seem, because learning to ask questions, of why did it happen and why is it happening, became specifically relevant to the social and political developments surrounding Kashmiris.

Dapaan: The Significance Of The Oral Tradition

Dapaan is the word for ‘it is said’ or ‘they say’ in Kashmiri, an expression with which all stories are begun, for myths or legends which have no identifiable source. In the present situations of constant uncertainties in the state fuelled by government regulated informational blockade, the word that invoked the idea of fiction has also taken a new form. Dapaan as a harbinger of fearful events and anxieties, plays its part, as news and rumours, said and heard beginning with the word ‘dapaan’, make their way into everyday lives.

In telling me stories from her childhood and those she heard in those days, Aiman stressed how for her, her home has always been the paradise on earth. Memories of the stories, for instance, cannot forget the contexts in which they were told. There are some stories that impress a metaphor for occupied Kashmir, like that of the man who travels on a donkey while carrying all the load on his own head. He does so to not burden the animal he is travelling on, but in his ignorance doesn’t realise how the weight is ultimately being put on the donkey while the man assumes he is being kind to the animal by keeping the load on himself. These little things of everyday life then become an expression that absorbs and speaks of the nature of things. In the same vein also run proverbs, like Garah wandai gara sasah, garah neraha ne zah, (‘O home, I would sacrifice a thousand houses on you and will never leave you’) or asav ne, te lasav kith paeth (‘How will we live, if we don’t laugh’). The connectedness drawn from these pieces of oral culture are owed to the way they have been passed through generations, where that which everybody has heard comes to hold the value of truth. It has stood the grounds of time, and so it comes to stand against erasure.

Bhand Pather And Ladi Shah: Other Forms Of Oral Tradition

And outside this household of folk stories, there lie other oral traditions which have played similar roles, like that of Bhand Pather and of Ladi Shah. Bhand Pather, which is now a declining art form of folk theatre, is based on satirical drama drawn from mythologies and social realities. The unwritten scripts of these dramas have been passed on in families, where their performances invoke cultural roots often infused with political commentaries and humour. Bhand Pather is a very old tradition of drama but has served newer purposes of educating and informing masses, spreading awareness of the many issues that people did not have an easy access to talk or know about. And so, the political representation made its way into folklore not directly, but through subtleness, wit, and sarcasm. In that what they did, and this is what Aiman believes, is not just help in shaping opinions of the people but also strengthening them, where the problems concerning entire communities could find a space to be conveyed and shared.

Another form bridging the accessibility of information like Bhand Pather is Ladi Shah, the Kashmiri song ballads full of melody and humour. The performer, also called the ladi shah, comes with an instrument called dhukar, singing songs that communicate and comment on socio-political matters of day-to-day life. It was only fairly recently that Kashmir got its first female ladi shah in fact, twenty-five year old Syed Areej Safvi. The oral culture, therefore, is still evolving into relatable entities; where people like herself, Aiman suggests, are also finding their own responsibility to know more about it and to carry it forward. This remembrance and recognition, through multiple traditions like Bhand Pather and Ladi Shah, are their own history, a way to protect their roots.

Aiman’s own understanding over the importance of folk stories has been this alone, also the reason she was willing to share it with me. Attempts at surviving and preserving the aspects of their culture are an important part of the community. Stories, the oral tradition of Kashmir and culture surrounding them come to form a language of their own in all societies like this then, with their own depths and necessity.

Continue Reading

Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Be It Ever So Humble, There Is Nothing Like The Simple Bamboo

Enough about Chicken Biryani, its time to dive into Araku Valley’s Bamboo Biryani. Read its interesting history and recipe.

Published

on

Bamboo Biryani, Bamboo, Biryani, Vistas of Bharat, Indian Culture

I was never much of a biryani person. I know. Preposterous and completely unacceptable. Whenever I am asked as to why exactly I would prefer having a regular dish over biryani, I revert back to blaming everything I can possibly attribute blame to. A lack of taste buds, tough parenting, a general sense of insanity, take your pick. That all changed three years ago. And, it was all because a certain friend of mine thought the world of his culinary aptitude. He wasn’t bad at whipping up new dishes from time to time. Not by any means. He just wasn’t as good as he thought himself to be.

That day, however, he completely outdid himself. And, the best part was the fact that the recipe he tried on that particular day, was something that he was completely alien to. I don’t know how you managed it, Tia. But, thank you for introducing me to ‘Bamboo Biryani’. Needless to say, I grilled him about the recipe and he pointed me in a general direction.

Soon enough, I realized that bamboo biryani was not just some kind of new-wave, culinary innovation. No. It is rooted in history, dating all the way back to Colonial India. It was, by all accounts, a part of this country’s identity for the longest time, the recipe only just rising to popularity recently.

Bongu Chicken: How Did Bamboo Biryani Come To Be?

Some 100 kilometres from Araku Valley, in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, lies a humble village called Chaparai. The village, itself, is lined with makeshift stalls and huts, locally known as ‘Pakas’. Most of the vendors manning these stalls have only a few dishes for sale, chief among them being ‘Bongu Chicken’.

Bongu chicken, cooked in a manner similar to bamboo biryani, is essentially chicken that has been left to marinate in natural spices before being stuffed into a bamboo stem and roasted over an open flame. The spices used in the dish are all sourced locally, of course. It wouldn’t really be an authentic dish otherwise. Most recipes for Bongu chicken avoid dried spices, preferring freshly ground variants and aromatic herbs. Think freshly ground ginger-garlic paste, coriander, green chillies.

Once the meat has soaked up the marinade, it is stuffed in bits, with a patch of bamboo leaves separating each serving. A single bamboo stem can, effectively, hold up to a kilogram of chicken. Once the bamboo is stuffed with the meat, the cook places it over an open fire where they continuously tend to it, turning it over every ten minutes or so. While it cooks, the moisture and the natural oil, found inside the bamboo stem, seeps into the meat, giving it a very distinct flavour.

The actual reason I went off on that tangent is that you understand this is not a dish that has just come about. It has found popularity recently, yes. However, the recipes and the manner in which the dishes are cooked all rose out of a necessity.

The Araku Valley In Spotlight

Araku Valley is home to numerous indigenous tribes, communities of people with a rich history in culinary traditions. When India was still reeling under its colonial masters, communities such as the ones living in Araku Valley had to think of ways to feed themselves in a manner that was not reliant on anything outside of what they knew. Enter the humble bamboo. To be frank, bamboo, to a lot of rural and indigenous communities in India, is one of the most versatile tools at their disposal. Back then, considering the economic climate that the majority of India found itself in, bamboo was a lot more accessible than traditional utensils. It was practically free and grew almost anywhere. It stood to reason then that soon enough, some tribes living in Araku Valley employed it in their cooking techniques and habits. Bamboo biryani, then, was a natural evolution of those habits.

Consider what biryani actually is. At its basest definition, it’s just rice and meat. That is exactly how it began for the tribes in Araku Valley. Why waste time and resources cooking multiple dishes when a single dish would do? Of course, meat was often a luxury for most living there. However, there are multiple instances of smaller game being used as a substitute for the traditional meat that was being consumed at the time. From then on, the sole question regarding bamboo biryani was what exactly went into it.

They had the two primary ingredients and the utensil they would use to cook the dish in. All they needed to figure out was what they would use to flavour the dish with. The answer, again, came from necessity. Whatever was available around them. Whatever grew naturally. That is the sole reason why bamboo biryani will differ massively when it is served to you in a restaurant and when it is served to you in the home of a family living in Araku Valley.

In spite of their best intentions, once the bamboo biryani found its way into restaurants, chefs could not help but add to it. After all, it is biryani, they reasoned. It needs some colour. Still, in a manner of speaking, the idea of using what’s available still remains the same. Authentic bamboo biryani will be a lot milder in terms of any flavour profile for dried spices. However, it will be spicier than what you are used to when it comes to biryani, on account of green chillies being used in some renditions of it.

Sivaram Krishna Introduced The Unique Dish To Restaurants

Sometime back in 2016, Sivaram Krishna, a senior chef at a hotel management school that had ties to the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department, stumbled upon bamboo biryani. At the time, Andhra Pradesh was just reeling from a political and geographical separation. When Telangana went on to take Hyderabad along with it, Andhra Pradesh had, essentially, lost its claim to biryani, as it was known traditionally. After all, you think biryani, you think Hyderabad.

As part of a push by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department, Sivaram Krishna went on to visit the tribes in Araku Valley, hoping to discover a dish that would put Andhra Pradesh back on the culinary map. What he learnt there, he brought back with him, proceeding to teach some eighty other chefs and students at his school. All those that Sivaram Krishna taught were encouraged to push the dish onto the menu in their own restaurants. That’s the actual story of how bamboo biryani came to be so popular. Andhra Pradesh, now, has its own biryani. And, personally speaking, I think it rivals any other biryani in the country.

Before I leave you, chew on this. In multiple regions in the North-Eastern part of India, bamboo is often used in cooking. In Assam, for example, there is a dish that closely resembles the Bongu chicken dish mentioned earlier. While some may consider the dish a direct adaptation by the Assamese, I can assure you that it’s not. In fact, it came about the same way that bongu chicken or bamboo biryani did. Just pure necessity.

There is a reason why you can travel around India and find things that make you think about home in the most unlikely places. There is a reason why, if I were to ever travel to Chaparai and eat from one of the ‘pakas’, I would think of something that I had back home. Some threads just tie us together, weaving a sense of identity no matter where we are from.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Standup, Babil Khan
Standup35 mins ago

Standup That Encourages To Find Contentment And Embrace Life

Khushwant Singh, Train To Pakistan
Editor's Pick4 days ago

Khushwant Singh: Sparking Change Through Literature

The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga, Netflix, The Talented Indian
Editor's Pick5 days ago

Book Review: The White Tiger By Aravind Adiga

Dance Cover, Alisha Singh
Dance1 week ago

Refreshing Dance Performances To Get You Grooving

Odia Cuisine
Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture1 week ago

Odia Cuisine: A Food Paradise For Vegans

Delivery Girl, Short film, Blush, Hotstar short film, hotstar
Short Films1 week ago

Delivery Girl: A Glance at True Feminism

K. S. Narasimhaswamy, Kannada poet, poet
Editor's Pick2 weeks ago

K. S. Narasimhaswamy: Mysore Jasmine of Kannada Literature

Watercolour art, watercolour, watercolor, watercolour painting, artist
Art & Craft2 weeks ago

Frames Of Watercolours: Meet Phenomenal Painters

music instrumentals, music, pasoori
Music2 weeks ago

Musical Compositions With A Desi Twist: Indian Classical Instruments

Qala, Irrfan Khan son movie, Irrfan Khan son, Babil Khan, latest movie, movie on netflix, Netflix
Entertainment2 weeks ago

Qala: A Melodious Tale of Inner Turmoil & Dynamics

Madhusudan Rao, TBT, Odia literature, Odia, Odia language
Editor's Pick3 weeks ago

Throwback Thursday: Madhusudan Rao A Odia Language Pioneer

Dance Cover, Dance, Rohit Gijare, Urvashi Pardeshi, nidhi and neha, Renuka Deshpande
Dance3 weeks ago

Embrace the Joy of Dancing

Portrait Paintings, Paintings,
Art & Craft3 weeks ago

Portrait Paintings: A Journey Through Artistic Perspective

Thiruvalluvar Day, Thiruvalluvar, Thirukural, Sangam, Literature,
Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture3 weeks ago

Thiruvalluvar Day: The Ancient Wisdom Of The Tamil Poet

Folklore, Storytelling. UNESCO, Intangible Cultural Heritage
Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture3 weeks ago

Preserving the Culture of India Through Folklores and Storytelling

Wade, Climate Change, Global warming, Environment
Short Films3 weeks ago

Wade: A Wake-Up Call on Climate Change

Swami Vivekananda, National Youth Day
Editor's Pick4 weeks ago

Exploring the Life, Teachings and Legacy of Swami Vivekananda

Fashion Illustrator, Fashion, Fashion Designer
Art & Craft4 weeks ago

Glamour And Style First: Check Out These Fashion Illustrators

Taza Khabar, Bhuvan Bam, BB Ki Vines, Web Series, Hotstar
Entertainment4 weeks ago

Taaza Khabar: A refreshing age-old tale

Short film
Short Films1 month ago

Authentic Animated Short Films for a Feel-Good Factor

Radheshyam Sharma, Gujarati Poet, Poet
Editor's Pick1 month ago

Throwback Thursday: Gujarati Poet Radheshyam Sharma

Music covers, Osho Jain, Pulkit Jain
Music1 month ago

Original Compositions With Tales Similar To Yours

Fashion Illustrators, Illustrators, Fashion
Art & Craft1 month ago

Some More Of Fashion Creativity: Meet Upcoming Fashion Illustrators

TVF Pitchers
Entertainment1 month ago

An Honest Peek Into The Start-up Venture: TVF ‘Pitchers’ Season 2

indie music, rewind 2022, music of 2022, top music
Rewind1 month ago

These Indie Releases Carried The Indian Music Scene In 2022

caricatures, rewind 2022
Rewind1 month ago

Rewind 2022: Caricatures That Painted 2022

Regional films, rewind 2022, bollywood, indian cinema, best films
Rewind1 month ago

Rewind 2022: Regional Films That Will Leave You Awestruck

theatre, rewind 2022
Rewind1 month ago

Rewind 2022: The Best Of Theatre Dramas And Plays

Baitullah, Short Film, Child Labour, Social Issue, Human Rights
Short Films1 month ago

Baitullah: The Story of A Million Children Who Wish to Dream

Editor's Pick2 months ago

Manoj Mitra: A Thirst For Expression

Digital Illustrations, artists, Illustrations
Uncategorized2 months ago

Digital Illustrators To Keep An Eye Out For

Dance Cover, Semi-classical, dancers, art, dance
Dance2 months ago

Semi-Classical Dances Showcasing Artistic Essence Of Dancers

Freedom Fight
Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture6 months ago

The Unsung Heroes Of India’s Independence Movement

Independence Day
Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture6 months ago

The Ones Who Led The Way: Freedom Fighters Of India

Amrit Mahotsav
Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture6 months ago

The Role of Musicians, Painters, Dancers During India’s Freedom Struggle

Shef's Kiss, Shefali Das, Music, Songwriter, Singer
Interviews5 months ago

Shefali Das Puts That Shef’s Kiss In Her Music

Kanhu Charan Mohanty
Editor's Pick6 months ago

Kanhu Charan Mohanty: Celebrating Novelist and His Astonishing Novels

Shubham Shyam, Poetry, Storytelling, Standup
Interviews4 months ago

Shubham Shyam And His Constant Companion, Poetry

Manoharji Ki Nimmi
Short Films6 months ago

Manoharji Ki Nimmi: A Short Film on Older Love

Vitha
Short Films5 months ago

Vitha: A Short Film On The Life Of Theatre Artist, Vithabai Bhau

Nithyasree Mahadevan, D. K. Pattammal, Carnatic singer
Editor's Pick6 months ago

Birthday Bliss: Celebrating Carnatic Singer Nithyasree Mahadevan

Editor's Pick2 months ago

Manoj Mitra: A Thirst For Expression

Amrit Mahotsav
Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture6 months ago

Amrit Mahotsav: India’s Freedom Struggle Is A Palette Of All Colours

Mallika Mehta, Adele of Mumbai, Adele, Musician, Singer
Interviews4 months ago

Mallika Mehta: The Inspiring Journey of The Adele Of Mumbai

Draupadi
Theatre & Drama6 months ago

Draupadi: An Awakening and Enthralling Monologue

Amrit Mahotsav
Confluentia of Talent6 months ago

The Tricolour Performances: Independence Day Treats

Photography, Lens, Indian Photographers
Photography4 months ago

The Meaning Behind Lens: Photography, a Photographer’s Tool

Photography, Nature Photography, Photographers
Photography6 months ago

Photography: Beauty of Nature through the Lenses of Beholders

Dance
Confluentia of Talent5 months ago

Dance Covers To Liven Up The Spirits & Lift Your Mood

Bamboo Boys, Short Film
Short Films5 months ago

Bamboo Boys: A Story of Aspiration and Dreams

Carnatic Music
Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture5 months ago

Carnatic Music: The Unaltered Cultural Heritage

Music, Semi Classical Music, Hindustani Music, Indian Classical Music, Classical Music
Confluentia of Talent5 months ago

A Moment Of Resplendence: Semi-Classical Music Covers

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Freedom Fighter, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav
Editor's Pick5 months ago

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay: A Legacy Towards Liberation

Music
Music6 months ago

Set Of Bollywood Classic Musical Covers, Definitely Worth Lend An Ear

Rabindra Sangeet
Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture4 months ago

Rabindra Sangeet Melodiocious Covers To Elevate Your Day

Originals
Music5 months ago

Some Music Originals Bringing You A Taste Of Life

Photography
Photography5 months ago

A Moment In Time: Magnificent Photographers Of India

Folk Music, Folk Songs
Music5 months ago

Folk Songs That Kindle Domestic Felicity

Illustrations, Art
Art & Craft4 months ago

Illustrations: An Outlet For The Creators And Viewers

Hindustani Music
Music4 months ago

Relating The History Of India With Hindustani Music

Ashokamitran, Writer
Editor's Pick5 months ago

Reliving Ashokamitran’s Legacy And Influence On Tamil Literature

Bengali Dance, Dance, Rabindra Sangeet
Dance4 months ago

Visiting Rabindra Sangeet With These Engrossing Dance Covers

Poetry
Standup5 months ago

Narrating The Lessons Of Life Through Storytelling

Fusion Music, Fusion, Music
Music4 months ago

Fusion Of Classical And Folk Music: Aestheticism Meets Comfort

Ankit Kawatra
Business Corner4 years ago

The Inspiring Journey Of Feeding India’s Ankit Kawatra

The Untold
Short Films4 years ago

“The Untold” Words In A Love Story Of Two Best Friends

Whistling Woods International, Doliyaan, Preksha Agarwal, Trimala Adhikari, Seema Azmi
Short Films4 years ago

A Whistling Woods International Production: Doliyaan

Raat Baaki Baat Baaki, Jackie Shroff, Divyansh Pandit, Wild Buffaloes Entertainment, Filmfare
Short Films4 years ago

Raat Baaki Baat Baaki with Jackie Shroff and Divyansh Pandit

Ami Mishra, Mohammed Rafi, Ehsaan Tera, Unplugged Cover, Anchal Singh
Entertainment4 years ago

Ehsaan Tera : Unplugged Cover by Ami Mishra Ft. Anchal Singh

Plus Minus, Baba Harbajan Singh, Bhuvan Bam, Divya Dutta, Sikhya Entertainment
Short Films4 years ago

Plus Minus: A Tribute To The Unsung Hero Major Harbhajan Singh

Mashaal, The Forgotten Soldiers,The Jokers' Project, Manisha Swarnkar, Independence Day
Music4 years ago

Mashaal : The Forgotten Soldiers By The Jokers’ Project Ft. Manisha Swarnkar

Bhuvan Bam, Safar, Single, Original, Bhuvan Bam Safar, Artist, BB Ki Vines
Entertainment5 years ago

Safar : An Original Single by Bhuvan Bam Portraying Story of an Artist

Navaldeep Singh, The Red Typewriter, Short Film, Love Story, Touching Story
Short Films5 years ago

The Red Typewriter : A Touching Love Story by Navaldeep Singh

Dilbaro, Saloni Rai, Cover, Raazi, Alia Bhatt
Music5 years ago

‘Dilbaro’ From ‘Raazi Mellifluously Sung by Saloni Rai

Meri Maa, Musical, Short Film, Tarannum Mallik, Abhinay, Mother's Day
Short Films5 years ago

‘Meri Maa’ : A Musical Short Film Ft. Tarannum & Abhinay

Meri Maa ki Beti, Niharika Mishra, Poetry, Maa
Poetry5 years ago

‘Meri Maa Ki Beti’ : A Poetic Portrayal by Niharika Mishra

Call Center Ke Call Boy Ki Kahani, Rakesh Tiwari, Tafreeh Peshkash, Poetry
Poetry5 years ago

‘Call Center Ke Call Boy Ki Kahani’ by Rakesh Tiwari

Kajender Srivastava, Jawaab, Poetry, Poem
Poetry5 years ago

‘Jawaab’ : A Poetic Awakening by Kajender Srivastava

Tribute to Avicii, Indian Dancers, Avicii, Amit K Samania, Prakrati Kushwaha
Dance5 years ago

Tribute to Avicii By Indian Dancers Amit K Samania & Prakrati Kushwaha

Varun Agarwal, Million Dollar Company, Anu Aunty
Business Corner5 years ago

From Failing in Engineering to Co-Founding a Million-Dollar Company : Varun Agarwal

Dum Dum Dumroo, Sanaya Irani, Anil Charanjeett, Akash Goila
Short Films5 years ago

Dum Dum Dumroo : Think Before You Judge

Manpreet Toor's Laung Laachi
Dance5 years ago

Manpreet Toor’s Magnificent Dance on “Laung Laachi” is Mesmerizing

Semal
Music5 years ago

Mashup of ‘Treat You Better’ & ‘Mann Bharrya’ in Melodious Voice of Semal and Bharti

Aksh Baghla
Music5 years ago

Dil Diyan Gallan in Euphonious Voice of Akash Baghla

Ankit Kholia
Entertainment5 years ago

Reminiscing Classics In Ankit Kholia’s Mellifluous Voice

Sang Hoon Tere
Entertainment5 years ago

Sang Hoon Tere : Bhuvan Bam’s Original Single

Aranya Johar
Poetry5 years ago

“Why be biased to complexions?” Aranya Johar Questions the Society

Music5 years ago

Acoustic Version of Tere Mere Song by Dhvani Bhanushali

Short Films5 years ago

Tere Jaisa Yaar Kahan : A Tale of Two Best Friends

Music5 years ago

“Naino Se”: An Orginal Composition by Pushpendra Barman

Tere Mere by Saloni Rai
Music5 years ago

‘Tere Mere’ Female Cover by a Young Singer from Haryana, Saloni Rai

Every Skin Glows : Sejal Kumar
Editor's Pick5 years ago

Don’t Judge People on Skin Colour, Every Skin Glows : Sejal Kumar

Knox Artiste
Music5 years ago

14 Songs on 1 Beat Ft. Knox Artiste

Editor's Pick5 years ago

De Taali Nehraji Ft Ashish Nehra: Breakfast With Champions

Poetry5 years ago

To India: With Love by Aranya Johar

Entertainment5 years ago

Shiamak Davar’s Choreography of Despacito Ft. Justin Bieber

Trending