Monday December 10, 2018

Kathak: Indo-Pak’s cultural bonhomie

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By Radhikka Vashisht

Founder of culture anthropology E.B. Tylor defined culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”. Dancers hold India and Pakistan national flags before the start of play in the ICC World Twenty20 cricket final match in Johannesburg

…and not just that. Culture bridges boundaries, ends silences and attempts socio-political rapport. So does Kathak really play peacemaker?

India and Pakistan parted in 1947. The partition led to fractures like separate homes, states, educational institutions, and all other sorts of civil amenities such as hospitals, courts, and law enforcement agency.

However, culture is the only thing which survived as the common strain between the twain. It still brings the people of two countries together, ethically and emotionally. The language, art and culture, which we inherited from our ancestors, have a renewed spark between both the countries.

Despite the social taboo by the Pakistani religious and political fundamentalist on dance performances, the Kathak dance form is still revered by Pakistani people deeply.

Kathak’, the word is derived from Katha, which means a story. It is a dance form which revolves around a theme where the person uses mime and gestures to narrate a tale. The core characteristic of this dance form is that the performing artist role plays and imitates the story with the help of dance movements, expression and gestures.

Throughout the year, Pakistani classical dancers have been contributing to keep this vibrant dance form alive in Pakistan’s society. Despite unfavourable conditions that have emerged due to foreign and political policies of past rulers in Pakistan, dedicated dancers like Maharaj Ghulam Hussain Kathak, Nahid Siddiqui, Sadia Khan and Sheema Kirmani have kept this traditional dance form in Pakistan’s culture alive.

In Pakistan, Kathak dance is based on stories and folklores excavated from Urdu literature; whereas in India, this form of dance is based on mythological stories of India. Kathak dance form is the binding thread among the civilians of Pakistan and India.

Though political differences tend to disparage the bonhomie borne by both the nations, individuals belonging to each of these countries still share a common chord; a chord that brings together their penchant for Kathak.

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Hindus In Delhi Push For A Temple On The Ruins Of a Mosque

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

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Supporters of Vishwa Hindu Parishad gather during a rally in New Delhi, Dec. 9, 2018. The group gathered thousands of supporters to demand the construction of a Hindu temple on a site where a mosque was attacked, demolished in 1992. VOA

Tens of thousands of hardline Hindu protesters marched in New Delhi on Sunday, calling for a grand temple to be built on the ruins of a destroyed mosque in a flashpoint Indian city.

Trident-waving devotees clad in saffron filled a huge parade ground in the Indian capital under tight security, where speakers warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would not let up until the temple was sanctioned.

Some of Modi’s supporters feel the Hindu nationalist leader has not done enough to raise a shrine at a site in Ayodhya, a city believed by many to be the birthplace of the deity Ram.

The site was home to a medieval mosque for 460 years until Hindu zealots tore it down in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims.

Its future has been tied up in courts for decades but some hardliners want Modi, who is seeking reelection in 2019, to push parliament to guarantee the temple by law.

World Hindu Congress, Hindu
Hindus don’t oppose anyone, don’t aspire to dominate: RSS chief

“The gathering here is telling you that Hindus won’t sit back until the temple is built, and our wishes are respected,” said Champat Rai, the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group that organized the protest.

Demonstrators chanting “Praise be to Ram” packed the Ramlila Maidan, a vast ground capable of holding more than 50,000 people, and filled the surrounding streets.

Some carried maces and tridents — weapons traditionally wielded by Hindu gods — and traveled great distances by train and bus to reach the rally.

“We have come here to protect our religion and Hindu pride. We want a temple for our Lord Ram,” Hitesh Bharadwaj, a teacher from Delhi’s satellite city Noida, told AFP.

The hardline VHP has applied pressure on Modi in recent weeks, staging a huge show of force in Ayodhya itself last month.

Hindu, Mosque
Photo credit: theguardian.com

A close ally of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the group is spearheading a push to raise the Ram temple, and is calling for more protests as the premier prepares to go to the polls by May.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when its top leaders, including Modi, backed a growing movement for the construction of the Ram temple.

Its advocates want parliament to introduce a law bypassing legal hurdles blocking the temple before Modi’s term ends.

Also Read: Delhi’s Air Quality Leads To Ban On Trucks And Construction

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

“We don’t care about the courts. A grand temple will be constructed in 2019,” Sushil Chawdhary, a VHP leader, told AFP. (VOA)