By: Jan 3rd, 2015 12:25 am

Rajiv K. Phull

In our endeavour to honour different personalities of the state and salute their devotion in their respective fields of specialisation, Himachal This Week carried the achievements of Himachali singers who have not only popularised and preserved folk songs but also took them to new heights with their melodious voice.

This week finds a mention of artists who have preserved and popularised traditions prevalent in different parts of the state.

Traditional Artist of the Year: Krishan Chand Mahadeviya, Sundernagar

Citation: Himachali artist Krishan Chand Mahadeviya is engaged in conserving and popularising Banthra tradition in Mandi district at a time when folk theatre is on the verge of extinction. He is also writing and improving Banthra so that younger generation can also understand and follow it easily.

For his remarkable contribution in the field of conserving folk traditions, Himachal This Week confers on him Himachal Excellence Award 2014.

Krishan Chand MahadeviyaBorn on June 13, 1960 in Mahadev of Sundernagar area, Krishan Chand Mahadeviya has been engaged in preserving and popularising Banthra, a satirical folk theatre tradition practiced in Mandi district. According to locals, the folk theatre tradition of Banthra started in the 12th century as a source of entertainment during the Riyasat regime in Mandi. It is performed on all occasions, including various melas and festivals, barring marriage ceremony. Krishan Chand Mahadeviya, a renowned Banthra artist, has been perfroming this tradition since long. Banthra is at its best when performed in old Mandiali language but Mahadeviya is experimenting and improving Banthra continuously so that younger generation can also follow it easily. Writer and folk drama writer Mahadeviya says that youths should come forward to conserve folk dramas that are on the verge of extinction in Mandi district. Old folk dramas like Ladkinga, Dhhaja, Holi, Daynu Chandroli, Swang, Mukhauta and Budhadh are on the verge of extinction as they are staged very rarely these days. He is not only writing folk dramas but also conserving them. Mahdeviya has also presented his folk dramas on All India Radio, Shimla besides staging them at different platforms across the state. He has been awarded Gurukul Award by a Kullu based organisation for his contribution in conserving folk drama and writing Banthra. Mahadeviya has also written Himachali folk literature and two short story collections. Currently, he is writing folk literature muktak.

-Amar Singh Chauhan/Mandi

Runner up-  Ajeet Bhatt, Chamba 

Citation: Himachali artist Ajeet Bhatt is engaged in conserving and popularising Kunjri Malahar tradition sung in rainy season before Minjar Festival in Chamba. He has been performing this tradition along with his team for the last 24 year in Chamba besides creating awareness among youths about it

For his remarkable contribution in the field of conserving folk traditions, Himachal This Week confers on him Himachal Excellence Award 2014.

Ajeet BhattBorn on March 22, 1966 in Chamba, Ajeet Bhatt learnt the basics of singing Kunjri Malhar from his uncle Prem Dass at an early stage. Prem Dass was a master in Kunjri Malhar. Since then he has not only carried on the legacy of singing Kunjri Malhar but also popularised it by perfroming at diferent platforms in Himachal and neighbouring states. According to locals, the tradition of singing Kunjri Malhar before Minjar fair, started many centuries ago after Chamba Riyasat was established. Ajeet Bhatt along with his team has been carrying on this tradition in the International Minjar Festival for the last 24 years. According locals, Kunjri Malhar is a traditional virah song, sung traditionally during rainy season. Ajeet   Bhatt is also striving to popularise and preserve Kunjri Malhar tradition besides creating awareness among youths regarding improtance of this centuries old tradition practiced in the area. He chose singing as his career after doing graduation and attained mastery in singing Kunjri Malhar and other Chambiyali songs. He has also perfromed in Chandigarh, Kullu and other areas in addition to Minjar Festival in Chamba. He has also worked as Music Tecaher in DAV School, Chamba for 12 year and the institute had won inter state competition in singing under his guidance.

-By Deepak Sharma/Chamba

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