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Folk Arts of Bundelkhand Today

  A colourful folk dance performed at the Lok Lai festival in Chitrakoot, Nov 2007

Due to livelihood pressures, attendant phenomena such as increased migration, and spread of the Hindi film culture, Bundelkhand's folk arts are dying.

Most forms of folk song and dance are today performed by people who are past the age of sixty. There are very few young artistes. The skill and materials required to make many kinds of instruments are vanishing.

Some efforts have been made by government and non-government bodies to preserve and promote dying folk forms.

The Adivasi Lok Kala Evam Tulsi Sahitya Academy, Bhopal, has brought out several publications on Bundelkhand folk arts.

The UP government has given a platform to Bundelkhand folk artistes in cultural festivals organised at Jhansi and Chitrakoot.

An important non-government initiative is 'Lok Lai', a UP Bundelkhand folk arts festival organised by Akhil Bhartiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan (ABSSS).

First held in Chitrakoot in November 2007 with support from the Poorest Area Civil Society (PACS) Programme, 'Lok Lai' brought together people carrying on folk song and dance traditions in villages, without official recognition or support. A publication was subsequently brought out on these artistes and their art forms.

With support from the UP government, 'Lok Lai' was held again in February 2009. The UP has promised to give support to make 'Lok Lai' a regular event.

A considerable amount of work has been done by academics as well as enthusiasts from different parts of the region (especially in Orai, Jalaun district) to document and analyse Bundelkhand's folk art forms.

The research, published only in Hindi, is an important marker of a 'Bundelkhand regional' consciousness.

Since the 1990s, there has been an explosion of a new kind of Bundelkhandi 'folk' music.

Sung to the accompaniment of modern instruments like synthesizers, and often with sexually suggestive lyrics in Bundeli, the music is sold through cassettes that are played at ear-splitting volume in public transport  buses, large rickshaws and jeeps.

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