‘Guru-shishya tradition to boost tourism culture’
The Uttarakhand government is banking on the guru-shishya tradition practised in the Himalayan region ages ago, to revive its fast fading folk traditions.
If introduced properly, the tradition could give a boost to cultural tourism, giving a fillip to the state’s tourism-based economy, say folk artists.
“We have a number of vibrant folk traditions in the state. They, however, run the risk of dying out, if not perpetuated properly,” said Beena Bhatt, director, department of culture.
“We have introduced the guru-shishya tradition to ensure that all those local traditions -- folk dance, singing and music are not wiped out forever.”
She said the Pahari folk traditions survived through the ages because they were carried forward through the guru-shishya tradition.
“This (guru-shishya) tradition ran in families where elders passed on the age-old folk traditions to the younger generations orally as they were not documented,” Bhatt said.
All local traditions that “include folk music, folk dance and singing will become a thing of the past if timely measures are not taken to conserve and perpetuate them”, she said. “The guru-shishya tradition is one such initiative aimed to conserve all folk forms.”
Elaborating, Bhatt said that as part of that (guru-shishya) tradition workshops for budding artists are organised twice a year.
“In these workshops, students are given lectures and demos on all kinds of local traditions, from dance to music to singing by veteran folk artists from the region,” she said.
“Both teachers and students who participate in workshops are also paid stipends and other facilities.”
According to her, most students selected for workshops and veteran folk artists who teach them are Scheduled Castes (SCs).
“The SCs are selected for such workshops because they have traditionally been the flag bearers of our folk traditions,” Bhatt said.
“The number of students and teachers participating in such seminars has been increasing since the guru-shishya tradition was introduced to revive folk traditions some time back,” she said.
Going by the increasing number of students participating in the workshops, the official said, she was confident that the initiative will help popularise the folk traditions among the youths.
Pritam Bharatwan, a renowned folk artist from the region, was appreciative of the government’s move to rejuvenate the folk traditions through the guru-shishya tradition.
“It is a good initiative… I am confident that it will help revive our once vibrant local traditions which are dying out fast,” he said.
Besides, clarified the noted artist, the initiative “provides the veteran folk artists a platform to share their priceless knowledge with young generation before they would be lost to us forever”.
Bharatwan said name any folk form of Uttarakhand be it Jagar, pawane, Thadia, Chonfula, Jhumela, Jhora or Bhagnol…each of these dance forms and songs are catchy and vibrant.
“If propagated properly, all these local traditions have the potential to give a boost to cultural tourism in the central Himalayan region,” he said.
The artist said those folk traditions have also the potential to attract foreign tourists to Uttarakhand.
“I found foreigners highly inquisitive about the vibrant folk traditions in this part of the Himalayas,” he said while sharing experiences of his “frequent visits” to the countries namely the US, Japan and Germany.
“There are many foreigners I know who are also doing research in our local traditions,” Bharatwan said.
Narendra Singh Negi, a renowned folk singer from Garhwal, however, sounded a note of caution.
“Our folk traditions do have the potential to give a boost to cultural tourism in the state but that (potential) will have to be tapped properly to attract tourists,” he said.
About the project, under which the guru-shishya tradition is being utilised to rejuvenate the local traditions, the noted artist said the government should observe more transparency in its implementation.
“The department of culture should organise shows so that students being benefited by the initiative are able to display their skills before the people and entertain them,” he said.