BHADRAK:Like every year, the seven ‘Patua’ troupes of Narendrapur village under Chandbali block congregated in Patani Mangala temple to take part in the five-day Bisuba Sankranti festival that concluded on Sunday. The festival, though, missed out on the popular Ranapa dance which is a major attraction for the local populace.
The only performer of the dance, Sudam Mohalik, is handicapped due to a crack in his left knee. Sudam of Nuapada village is not a happy man. He danced on wooden stilts to the beats of ‘Mahuris’ and ‘Dholias’ during Patua performance every year till he met with a mishap leading to the injury. While he is unable to perform, none of the male members of his family has learnt the folk dance form.
As per belief, the King of Kanika had constructed the Patani Mangala temple in the village and had awarded some acres of land to seven families in the village on the condition that they would perform ‘Patua Nacha’ near the temple every year.
Some of the members of these families also trained themselves as Dholias (those who play dhol) and Mahurias (artistes who play Mahuri) and singers.
Gradually, the Patua troupes were formed. Ranapa dance, that is performed on wood stilts, was also a part of the Patua performance.
“It felt great performing along the rhythm of Dhol and Mahuri. The best part was when I used to keep a ghata (an idol) of Maa Patani Mangala made of mud and place it in an earthen pot on my head while dancing on the stilts,” he recollects, adding that he used to spend several hours learning the folk dance as a child. And now after performing for 43 years, a crack in his knee has kept him away from his passion.
During the festival, the Patua troupes move from one village to another and even visit Bhadrak town to perform and collect donation.
Sudam says lack of patronage by the State Government is one of the primary reasons behind this dying art form.