Dressed in an African tribal costume with strokes of white paint on his face, Shabbir Siddi, a member of the Siddi tribe from Gujarat, will take the stage at Rampart Row with 15 members of his tribe on Saturday.
The Siddis, who are of African descent, will perform ‘Siddi Dhamal’, a folk dance backed with African drumbeats, at the 14th Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. “We are trying our best to promote the culture that was left behind by our African ancestors in the eleventh century,” said Siddi. “We use native African percussion instruments for our performance.”
Over the past week, ‘Rajasthan ki Anarkali’ and ‘Bengal ka Jadoogar’ have been entertaining the visitors at Rampart Row with their “latka-jhatkas”.
For six hours every day, Vikram Bhatt and his brothers, Mukesh and Kundan, from Rajasthan’s Nagaur district whistle tunes and control the strings of their ‘kathputlis’ (puppets). “It is quite tedious. However, everyday we have a new audience, enthusiastic to know more about folk tales from Rajasthan,” said Vikram, who is performing at the festival for the first time. “We feel like celebrities.”
With costumes weighing more than five kilograms, embedded with mirrors and embroidery, the Sagar tribe from Madhya Pradesh will perform the Badhai dance on Saturday. “Most of us in the troupe attend college and office in the morning, and practice in the evening,” said Aditya Namdev, 24, who teaches dance in a local school.
The festival had 18 troupes from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Chattisgarh perform during the past few days. “We had also planned to bring in dancers from Orissa. However, owing to some communal tensions back home, we had to cancel the event,” said Taneraj Sodha, programme officer, West Zone Cultural Centre, Union ministry of culture.