If all goes according to plan, Handia near Allahabad could soon become the pilgrimage place for connoisseurs of Kathak. And in this dance form one could soon have, what Kathak maestro described as, the 'new religion' and the exponents of this dance form as its devotees.
Pandit Birju Maharaj, one of the well-known exponents of Kathak, originally belongs to Handia. He has taken an initiative to develop Handia and identify it on the cultural map of the country. “The different Gharanas of Kathak originated later.
Initially, only Handia was associated with Kathak. Many generations from our family have been associated with this dance form and all the Gharanas at some point or the other have learnt Kathak from the people of this place. I want to develop it and build a school there so that the coming generations know the importance of this place.
I can say this proudly that Kathak originated from Handia and it is place that should be worshipped by the people who want to practice this dance form. We want to give an identity to this spot,” said Pt Birju Maharaj.
Last month, Maharaj made a visit to the venue to have a closer look at the place and chalk out a plan. He visited the Kathik pond, close to which the dream project is supposed to come up.
To begin with, a three-day cultural programme, focusing on Kathak, will be organised in Handia, where Kathak artistes from all over the country are expected to participate. The programme is scheduled to happen in April this year. In this regard, Sashwati Sen, one of the senior disciples of Pt Birju Maharaj said, “The work will have to be done in phases and in the first phase we will organise a dance festival at Handia and construct a 'nrityaangan' at the identified spot near Kathik pond. After this work is successfully over, we will plan it further.”
She added, “Pt Birju Maharaj has also submitted a proposal in this regard to the state government. However, like always the state government's response is very slow. When Maharaj Ji had visited Lucknow during Lucknow Mahotsav, he had met the officials and had talked about this proposal.”
Sources in Allahabad said 889 families used to stay in Handia in the beginning of the last century and their names still exist in the land revenue records. Most of them were related to the field of music, dance and drama. However, due to natural calamities people had to leave the place and migrate to bigger towns.