Bihu dancers struggle to make ends meet as cases of COVID-19 increase
April 15, 2020
Organisers of Bihu programs have canceled the festivities this year, including open field performances or stage shows, to avoid the spread of coronavirus. As a result, Bihu artists are facing a loss of income and opportunities.
Debanjan Pathak, a Bihu organizer said, “In reality, the organizers do not face much loss. It is the singers and the dancers who do. These artists practice every day to perform at the functions during this month. It is their livelihood, but now due to the lockdown these artists are stripped off of it.”
“Around 3000 events are held across Assam throughout April. So, a group performs at about 60 to 70 events and each artist earns almost about Rs 20,000 during this month and this year the revenue generated from these events is lost,” he added.
People in Assam have boycotted all mass meetings, public cultural events, and are celebrating the state festival indoors, in compliance with government directives. The Assamese people celebrate Rongali Bihu , also known as Bohag Bihu, to mark the Assamese New Year. The festival is held in the month of ‘Vaisakh’, locally called ‘Bohag’, seven days after ‘Vishuva Sankranti’ to mark the beginning of the spring season.
This time, amid the lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis, Bihu is being celebrated with restrictions.
RavendraThakuria, a Bihu dancer said,” We look forward to this month. I have a group of around 30 people and performing Bihu is their primary source of income. This year not a single performer has earned a penny and we are facing a financial crisis.”
While people are celebrating the festival indoors, despite the lockdown, the Assam police personnel were seen raising public spirit by beating dhols, singing Bihu songs.
Sachindra Sharma, ASI Police said, “We are following the government provided norms strictly. Apart from that, we are also trying to create awareness among people about social distancing. We are making videos and uploading them on social media for people to look at it.”
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, while greeting people on the occasion requested the residents to stay inside and reiterated the importance of social distancing.
FEATURE IMAGE CREDIT – By Author