JEYPORE: Tribal drummers once played an important role in the society. However, with the onslaught of modern music, they are finding it tough to continue the practice and survive. Known as ‘Mohurias’ and ‘Baidokarias’ in villages, the history of the drummers can be traced back to 150 years when they were chosen by rulers of Jeypore dynasty basing on their qualities. Later, they were assigned the responsibility to play on occasions like birth, marriage and death ceremonies by the kinds. Each drummer was allotted up to 4 acre land in their respective villages so that they could lead a decent life.
Besides, a few who were more talented received invites from the King of Jeypore on festivals like Dussehra during which they were given clothes, food and even ornaments. Over 1,000 traditional drummer groups comprising over 5,000 musicians used to perform across Koraput district till late 1990s. They were much in demand among tribal dance groups and their unique dance music came to be known as ‘Demasa’.
However, with the advent of modern drums and music, particularly DJ, the drummers are in dire straits. The new generation of the drummers are reluctant to continue the practice as it has lost its charm. The situation is such that there are only 200 such traditional drummers in the district at present.
The musicians, who were once revered for their talent, now seek permission to play on occasions, often free of cost. “The society’s perception of drummers has changed. We are now treated as strangers and do not have money or respect,” said Guru Mohuria, a traditional drummer of Dhanpur .Meanwhile, District Culture Officer Akshya Sethi said around 80 drummers from the district are being given a monthly pension of `1,200 by the State Government.