Folk Ragini in a Black Box Theatre:
Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
― Chinua Achebe (Author)
The last Sunday of the year 2021, witnessed a beautiful amalgamation when folk music and writings from the Gurjar community were performed inside the black box theatre of Safdar Studio Delhi.
On 26.12.2021, Gujjar Dilemmas an Instagram handle dedicated to the welfare of Gurjar community organised a writer’s meet for the Gurjar community of Delhi and NCR, where writers and poets of the community were present. The event was named as “Manch”.
The event was a tribute to the legendary folk Ragini singer Satpal Dausa ji, who left for heavenly abode in the last wave of covid. The event was started by expressing the intention behind “Manch”. The participants discussed the need of getting writers from the community under the same roof, and need for such events, so that the writers, poets, and storytellers from the Gurjar community get introduced to each other, and can move forward together along with their cultural traditions.
They further discussed that writing and literature are vital tools specially for a community like Gurjars, who are still stereotyped and marginalised as a group of nomads and cattle herders due to the community’s active role in the revolution of 1857, which led to the enactment of colonial legislations like the “Criminal Tribes Act” and “Dramatic performances Act”, and the ripples of these Acts are still visible in this independent India.
While the discussions and performances were going on, the participants were light heartedly discussing about the common stories and folklores within the community. Few of them were being how the Tanwar Gurjars of Delhi have their own sacred space inside the very urban Delhi, and how the Bhati Gurjars of Noida are the warmest and most welcoming amongst the Gurjar subcaste. Some participants were singing ragini in between the conversations, and were emphasizing the relevance of ragini, while they were growing up, and how this has changed with urbanisation.
The most unique and historical thing was that this all was taking place inside a black box theatre, a form of theatre that emerged in America in the 20th century, as it took theatre to common spaces, and finally achieved its objective when Ragini, a folklore presenting art of western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana was performed under it.
The event was concluded by signing the Raginis of Mahashy Satpal Dausa ji, distriburing the book marks of him, and with common consensus it was decided that the community will demand for Padmavibhushan for the legendary Ragini singer and performer for his contribution in the area of preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of the Rural india.