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NATIONAL CONVENTION OF NOMADS AND ADIVASIS 

 21-24 April 2005

Programme Schedule

Introduction

                    Indian civilization  is distinguished by an immense variety of social groups whose norms of life and thought differ very significantly from the norms and life-styles of settled communities. Nomadic communities ranging from the Sansis, Chamathas, Madaris, Banjaras, Woders, Bavarias, Yenadis, Pardhis, Bhamtas, Jogis,  and such others – almost 190 varieties of social groups,  have enriched our traditions and culture by developing their own forms of expression and thought. These forms of expression include the musical instruments, songs, narrative, dance, costumes, rituals, theatre, artifacts and food-variety. Unfortunately, most of these are rapidly vanishing in the face of increasing sedentarisation and urbanization of life-styles. The nomadic cultures have remained away from the attention of scholars, art-collectors, and the general population of India . As a result, very little information about the life-styles, and mindsets of nomadic communities is available to us. The attitudes of the nomadic communities to sedentary civilization, their understanding of ecologies, their world-views, social structures and social relations have all eluded understanding in the general intellectual and historical discourse in India . So far, the  itinerant entertainer and the wondering people of India , whose current population is almost close to sixty million,  have not found a place they deserve in our thoughts.

                    The colonial law that placed most of these communities under suspicion by ‘notifying’ them has been one reason for the remoteness of these communities from the rest of the Indian people. Their nomadic habits and life-style is another, and perhaps more important, reason for their cultural alienation from the sedentary society. Most of these nomadic communities have been closer to the Tribal, or Adivasi, communities in their social relations and cultural past. The adivasis themselves have a remarkably rich heritage of song, story, dance and music. Moreover, they also have a very significant tradition of painting, sculpture and craft. However, these traditions have remained enveloped in languages which are now marginalized as languages without scripts.

                    The National Convention of Nomadic and Adivasi Communities being  held at the IGNCA will bring together about 1400 representatives of nomadic and adivasi  such communities in an attempt to listen to the nomadic and adivasi voice and to understand them throughthe medium of their performative practices. The National Convention will draw  artists from several states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharasthra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttaranchal and Madhya Pradesh, with a view to establish an inter-community dialogue between their performance traditions, craft productions, speech varieties and oral compositions, but also to voice their own world-views, their contemporary concerns and anxieties. It is hoped that the coming together of these groups will provide for them a national platform for exchanging with other similar groups their experience of modern India .

                   About 1400 persons belonging to nomadic and adivasi communities , with as many as eighty-five groups of artists are  scheduled to participate in the National Convention, which hopefully will become the first in a series of annual conventions of nomads and adivasis of India . They will spend half of their time every day in engaging in discussions on issues such as cultural identity, displacement and migrations,  their languages, forests-rivers-hills, and,  the contemporary world.

                   The remaining half-day will be spent in listening to eminent thinkers and activists such as Dr. B. D. Sharma, Smt.Medha Patkar, Shri Ashok Choudhary,.Shri Balkrishna Renake, Dr. Ramachandra Guha, Shri Bhujang Meshram, Shri Pradip Prabhu, Shri, Vahru Sonawane and Shri Atmaram Rathod.

                     The performances of the participating artists will be presented on three successive evenings on five open-air stages at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, from 21 to 23 April.  These will  include theatre, dance, music, recitation, story telling and rituals. Besides, the craftwork of these communities  and publications of organizations working with them will be displayed in a special exhibition put up at the IGNCA for this occasion.  The National Convention is jointly organized by the INdira Gandhi National centre for Arts, New Delhi ,  and  Bhasha Research & Publication Centre, Baroda Centre.  The tw cultural organizations intend to do a systematic documentation of the evening performances so that the cultural wealth brought to the capital by the nomads and the adivasis of our country becomes available for further study and reference.

The convention is planned as a national event; and several years of grassroots  work by the Bhasha Research Centre, Adivasi Ekta Parishad and Lokadhara is being put to use to bring together the communities to the capital. Similarly various grassroots organizations involved in work with the nomadic and adivasi communities  will be represented by nearly three hundred fifty representatives from all parts of India .

                    

                                            


Programme Schedule

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