SILCHAR, Sept 20 - Much as the baritone voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra is an integral part of people on the dawn of Mahalaya, dhak, the traditional music instrument forms a part of the lives of the people in love with their festivals. But with the onslaught of technology, the sound of the drums which beckon the annual homecoming of Goddess Durga with her family is languishing as an art form.
For Bapan Sabdakar, Bimal Sabdakar, Dinanath Das and other dhakis, even as the Durga Puja is a time to perform and earn a sustainable income for the whole year, the seasonal demand is sluggishly forcing them and other drummers from Silchar to opt for other odd jobs to meet their ends.
�Inspired by our former generations, we have been enthralling the people across pandals during Durga Puja and sometimes on other major festivals with drum beats. But, we anticipate that our successive generations might not be willing to carry the work forward, mainly because of low-income and also due to invasion of technology which has dragged us on the fence of a bleak future,� said Dinanath Das, a fourth generation player in his dhaki family with his eyes getting moist.
Echoing Dinanath, Bapan spoke his mind on the instances of how the drummers are often harassed by people who hire them to play drums during festivals in their homes.
Meanwhile, a noted local shehnai player of Barak Valley, Sukkur Ali, who partners with the drummers on major social festivals across the region said that unlike in West Bengal and even in Tripura, where the drummers get ample opportunities throughout the year, drummers in Barak Valley do not get enough scope to earn money. �Even as things have not gone beyond proportions yet, the growing trend of using recorded music is adding to the woes of the drummers. We do not get encouraged and neither there is any hope of financial assistance from the government to lift our spirits,� Ali maintained.
In this backdrop, the Barak Upatyaka Banga Sahitya o� Sanskritik Sammelan has extended support to the percussionists and has decided to initiate talks with the Cachar district administration on this issue and place their demands before the government as well. In a recent meeting with the drummers ahead of the Durga Puja, members of the Sammelan were unanimous about pursuing the Puja organisers, both private and public with appeals to issue identity cards to the drummers hired to play. Also, the members were categorical about maximum hours, a drummer can be asked to continue playing during a day. �Realising the plight of the drummers here, we shall try to raise the issue before the Government,� assured Taimur Raja Choudhury and Sanjiv Deb Laskar, the district president and the town committee president of the Sammelan respectively. The Sammelan gave away T-shirts to the drummers as a token of gesture during the meeting.