Wearing bright-hued clothes with beads, chamaki and fine silver jewellery, the paniharans carry brass pots on their heads performing beda nritya to the accompanying drumbeats eulogising the importance of water as they reach the ancient step wells (called vav).
The tableau ‘Step Wells of Gujarat’ — which served both ritualistic as well as utilitarian needs of the people — will be part of the Republic Day parade this year.
“These wells were built in 11th century in north Gujarat,” said the state’s Deputy Director (Information) Kalpana Barot during a media preview on Tuesday.
A model of Enchey monastery, the oldest in Sikkim, and a replica of a hydel project adorn the Sikkim float. Said senior cultural officer MK Rai, “Development without compromising on the natural environment, traditions for sustainable development is our theme.”
For something as dry a subject as coal, Coal India Ltd’s tableau based on the theme ‘Energising India’ comes as a lively surprise. Comprising replicas of an opencast mine and underground mine, the tableau also has railway wagons filled with coal coming out of the mines.
“The coal miner is our backbone. The float depicts the face of a coal miner, who works day and night, bearing the inherent risks of coal mining to provide energy security to us,” a spokesperson said.
Yet another interesting float is from Arunachal Pradesh, which shows glimpses of the culture of ethnic Khampti tribe. Living in the eastern part of the state, the Khamptis are culturally rich and also have a written script. “Khamptis are also expert in martial arts. Along with this depiction, we are also showing a replica of a monastery,” says Deputy Director (IPR) CM Longphong.
Another attention-seeker was the tableau from Jammu and Kashmir, which showed the Tulip Garden, developed near the Mughal Garden in Srinagar. “Tulips, not native to Kashmir, have been a huge draw for tourists,” said a spokesperson. The float also showcased traditional musical instruments from the state.
Orissa float resembling a boita (boat) depicts the ‘traditional maritime trade’ and also has artists doing paika dance, a popular martial art comprising human pyramids.
There are 26 tableaux this year from several states and central ministries ranging from Bihar (Glory of Nalanda Mahavihar); Punjab (Shaheed Bhagat Singh — the great martyr); Karnataka (Hoysala temple); Jharkhand (Jatra Bhagat and Tana Movement); Indian Railways (Railways and National Freedom Movement) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Village Health and Nutrition Day) to name a few.