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Rites of passage and the performing arts in Bangladesh

Lubna Marium/Shadhona - A Center for Advancement of Southasian Culture

As we work with different practices, with differing intersectional profiles, each practice needs to be evaluated independently.

a) Most adversely effected are the folk practitioners of ritual folk theatre, and folk martial art practitioners. Mostly, they arrange ‘performances’ in the courtyard of householders who commission these practices. This commissioning is known as ‘bayna’. Since the lockdown for COVID19 there have been no ‘bayna’.

However, for most practitioners these are ‘alternative professions’ as they are either farmers, masons, day-labour etc. Unfortunately, in those professions too there is no work. Lastly, most performers are from economically marginalised section of society.

b) For Manipuri performers, the performance is part and parcel of all ‘rites of passage’ - birth, death, marriage, naming of child, first feeding of child etc. Also, the community lives in its own multi-family bubbles, within one or two adjacent villages. As, communication continues within the community, low-key ‘rites of passage’ rituals are taking place. Also, comparatively, the Manipri community is economically better-off.

Dancers from the Manipuri community are celebrating ‘International Dance Day’

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