Monday April 6, 2020

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.

Next Story

Water Quality of River Ganga Gets improved Amidst Nationwide Lockdown

The lockdown has done what other government projects could not do for the Ganga

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Ganga
The water quality of the Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh has improved considerably in cities like Varanasi and Kanpur. Wikimedia Commons

The national lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 has thrown up something to smile about. The water quality of the Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh has improved considerably in cities like Varanasi and Kanpur.

Dr P.K. Mishra, Professor at Chemical Engineering & Technology, IIT-BHU, Varanasi, said that there has been 40-50 per cent improvement in quality of water in the Ganga.

This is primarily because factories along the river bank that discharged effluents into the Ganga have been shut due to the lockdown and this has naturally improved the water quality. Kalika Singh, regional officer of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) in Varanasi said: “The dissolved oxygen level upstream in river Ganga is 8.9 mg per litre while downstream, the dissolved oxygen level is 8.3 mg per litre. This clearly shows that water quality has improved significantly, and it is good for bathing. Healthy water should have a dissolved oxygen level of at least 7 mg/litre.”

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Singh said that during the lockdown period, the air quality in Varanasi had also improved.
“The roads in Varanasi are completely deserted because people are inside their houses and all vehicles are off the roads. Those engaged in essential services can only be seen in the city with their vehicles. Due to this, the air quality has improved in the city,” he said.

The Ganga enters Uttar Pradesh in Bijnor district and passes through major districts such as Meerut, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Kanpur, Allahabad, and Varanasi. In Kanpur too, the Ganga waters are cleaner.

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Dr P.K. Mishra, Professor at Chemical Engineering & Technology, IIT-BHU, Varanasi, said that there has been 40-50 per cent improvement in quality of water in the Ganga. Wikimedia Commons

A priest at the famous Parmat temple in Kanpur, said: “The major cause of water pollution in Kanpur is the toxic industrial waste which is discharged into the river. Since all the factories are closed due to the lockdown, the Ganga river has become cleaner. The priests at the temple earlier used to refrain from taking a holy dip because the water was highly contaminated. However, since the past week, we are bathing in the river.”

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The Sisamau drain which used to discharged millions of litres of dirty water into the river was completely tapped last year under the Namami Gange project. This has also brought down the water pollution but the improvement being witnessed at present is unprecedented.

The lockdown has done what other government projects could not do for the Ganga. (IANS)