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Swing, as a distinct motif in Indian culture

Earlier this week academician and director of Indian Cultural Heritage Research, Dr Navina Jafa, established the cultural significance of swings in her presentation at India International Centre.

Published: 05th October 2019 07:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th October 2019 08:58 PM   |  A+A-

Students of Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan performing at the event curated by(inset) Dr Navina Jafa in Delhi

Students of Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan performing at the event curated by(inset) Dr Navina Jafa in Delhi

Express News Service

The sight of a swing in a playground can make both kids and adults joyful. Even a little oscillation on this seat, hanging from a hook, is enough to virtually transport the seated person back to their childhood.

Earlier this week academician and director of Indian Cultural Heritage Research, Dr Navina Jafa, established the cultural significance of swings in her presentation at India International Centre (IIC).

Her talk, Jhoola: Swinging Love and Finding the Self, familiarised the audience with this object’s presence in paintings, sculpture, archaeology, music and dance. It further brought them face to face with its ritualistic importance in many parts of India.

Talking about her interest in this distinct entity, Jafa said, “Once at a place close to IIC, I spotted a young girl who had made a swing for her kid. She was gently swaying the swing, made from a sari, and singing a lullaby to the kid who was placed inside the swing. I also pushed the swing along with her. From here, I got this idea to take this one motif and see how it travels across the country.”

Jafa brought the audience attention to a typical Delhi tradition called dangal. Popularly known as a competitive event between wrestlers, dangal is also a cultural phenomenon.

“Here a senior member of a neighbourhood starts the event with one phrase pertaining to poetry or music and eventually the artists joins him or her in the rendition,” she said.

At the IIC event, the auditorium too experienced a dangal-like atmosphere where artist from the audience joined Jafa. Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan enthralled the audience with her soulful rendition of Kannoonjal Aadi, a song recited during the Oonjal ceremony in Tamil weddings.

“This ceremony prepares the newlyweds for the ups and downs in married life just like the movement one experiences on a swing,” said Ragunathan. 

Leading exponents of Kathak Saswati Sen and Prerana Shrimali also performed at the venue.

Jafa said, “Through this event, I wanted to highlight that jhoola can be linked to other themes beyond saavan. I  linked the performance by Sen to Mithuna Sankranti, holding many connotations to a swing and Shiramali’s to Hindola Mahal in Madhya Pradesh, an architectural wonder also known as Swinging Palace.”

Dedicating the event to her mentor to renowned cultural scholar Kapila Vatsyayan, Jafa took the audience across India establishing the importance of swing as a cultural fabric of India. She talked about the miniature paintings from Rajasthan and Pahari School. She further introduced the audience to Dola Utsav from Odisha and Baul singing where renowned artiste Madhusudan Baul marked his presence.

Stage as a community

At the IIC event, the auditorium too experienced a dangal-like atmosphere where artist from the audience joined Jafa. Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan enthralled the audience with her soulful rendition of Kannoonjal Aadi, a song recited during the Oonjal ceremony in Tamil weddings.

"This ceremony prepares the newlyweds for the ups and downs in married life just like the movement one experiences on a swing,” said Carnatic Singer Sudha Ragunathan

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