NEW DELHI:Culture flows through the Ganga. Over two 250 towns and cities along the 2,500-km course of the river will come alive with songs, dances and poetry recitation during a month-long yatra planned by the Ministry of Culture to highlight the cultural contribution of the Ganga.
The massive cultural yatra planned by Eastern Zonal Culture Centre (EZCC) under the ministry will bring together over 3,500 folk artists who will travel and perform to highlight the river’s traditions preserved over the millennia.
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“The importance of Ganga as not just a religious symbol but as a cultural symbol will be highlighted through this yatra. The significance of the river can be gauged from the fact that we mapped 28 languages along its route, 140 folk singing traditions, 62 dance forms and 136 musical instruments,” Prof. Om Prakash Bharti, director of EZCC, told The Sunday Standard.
The yatra will be divided into two parts: from Gangotri (origin of Ganga) to Varanasi, and from Varanasi to Gangasagar (where river meets the bay of Bengal). It will start on February 14, which also happens to be Valentine’s Day, and will end on March 16.
“Ganga represents our syncretic traditions, the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb. One of the efforts of the yatra will be to make people claim the river,” Bharti said.
In poetry symposiums, contribution of poets of yore will be highlighted. A photography exhibition will be held in Kolkata where pictures of various cultural aspects of the river will be showcased. To create awareness, schools, colleges and universities in the catchment area will be engaged to hold quiz competitions and seminars on the river, its rejuvenation, cleanliness and importance.
Functions will be held at 262 venues along the Ganga, connecting with over 2.5 crore people. Bharti says that eight crore people live along the Ganga.
“Artists are great communicators. They don’t hold back unlike writers and intellectuals after their work is done. They talk to people in their language. When they sing and recite poetry in local dialects, it will create awareness,” Bharti added.
Talking about traditions that have survived through centuries, he said, “Singing traditions like Chholia, Tandav Lila, Ragini, Holi, kajri, birha, sohar, baul zari, faqiri, kirtan have thrived along the Ganga. The river features in countless songs, and dance forms like Kathak and Gauriya have their origins here. Languages and dialects along the Ganga include Kumaoni, Garhwali, Kaurvi, Kanaunji, Bagheli, Mirzapuri, Maithali, Maghi, Santhali and Oraon, apart from over 40 tribal languages.”
While the current initiative has come from the Ministry of Culture, the BJP government at the Centre is also planning a massive outreach programme and a yatra along the river. The party will set up committees in over 1,800 villages along its course and hold similar cultural activities to drum up support for Prime Minister’s Clean Ganga Mission.