Chhou artist teams

Date: 03 Oct 2008


Ten Chhou artist teams to perform in Puja pandals  

Nani Gopal Pal 
CHARIDHA (Purulia), Oct. 2, 2008: To decorate Durga Puja pandals this year, at least 10 chhou-artist teams of Chaidha in Bagmundi, Purulia left for Kolkata, Siliguri and Durgapur last week. Of them, a few teams have agreed to perform chhou dance during the puja five days in the various puja pandals.  
Young artist, Benoy Sutradhar has already arrived in Siliguri from Purulia's Charidha. Before leaving Purulia, he said: “We shall finish our decoration on Panchami and on Sasthi we will perform our chhou dance.” 
However, he said: “The fees to be given to us does not meet our demands because below Rs 1 lakh it is not at all profitable. Even then, we are compelled to perform due to our weak financial conditions.” 
A chhou-artist team consists of at least 15 to 20 members along with musicians. As a result, they are forced to enlist their members on a “one is to three” method. Any team member should be able to decorate, perform and play music. 
“A new record has been set this year, as many as 10 teams have been invited by the Durga Puja committees of Siliguri, Kolkata and Durgapur," informed another veteran chhou mask-maker, Mr Nepal Sutradhar.  
Meanwhile, the Padmashree award recipient on chhou dance in 1983, Nepal Mahato expressed his disappointment about this art being a dying tradition. While talking to The Statesman here today, he said: “There is no government support, as a result of which the next generation will definitely move to other professions, as this art form will not provide them with any opportunities.” 
Lamenting this poor state of affairs, dance specialist, Mr Nepal Mahato categorically added: “I was awarded the Padmashree, right after the legendary chhou dancer Gambhir Singh Mura in 1982, but since 1983, nobody has been recommended.” 
Mask-making specialist, Anil Sutradhar has taken up the “theme” of chhou in different puja pandals this season. Team leaders of chhou who have left to perform in different places stated: “We have prepared to sell chhou-masks during the Puja days in our respective pandals to cover up for our loss.”