The concluding day of the International Shivratri fair here saw the 'Bajantri utsav', a folk dance and folk instrument competition, which was organised by the mela organising committee on Monday.
In local dialect, 'bajantri' mean traditional folk instrument players who accompany the hill deities to Mandi every year. Bajantri leads the chariot and play folk instrument tunes.
Former Mandi deputy commissioner Onkar Sharma took the initiative to start the utsav seven years ago, as he felt that bajantri, who played the music from the main temple of hill deities in remote areas to the venue of the fair in Mandi every year, felt ignored, while the other artistes who performed at cultural night shows got participation and honorarium both.
Sharma also initiated to offer honorarium to the winner teams, individual folk instrument player and top three teams in folk dance competition.
"In fact, deities and bajnatris are inseparable part of all folk festivals in the state and hill orchestra consists of a minimum eight to ten members. Nearly 300 deities with over 1,000 bajantris participated in the seven-day fair," Sharma said.
He added that major part of the fair budget was spent on the star artistes, while the bajantris felt ignored and to make everybody feel their presence, the bajantris utsav was started by the administration in 2008.
This year, accompanist of hill deity Jhhamahun of Bali Chowki area won the first position, Vishanu of Matlora in Seraj segment stood second and Shukdev Rishi Dhatta won the third prize in folk instrument, while Markandey Ghatotkach of Sarol area claimed first position in 'natti', a typical folk dance of hill area.