Chhattisgarh’s Panthi Dance form is famous all over the world and has brought much acclaim to Indian folk art. The credit for popularizing Panthi Dance goes entirely to Devdas Banjare. Banjare has showcased the cultural heritage of his community. state and country and won several awards for his performance on the platforms of the world through his commitment.
What was Devdas Banjare’s contribution towards Panthi Dance ?
Devdas Banjare was born on 1 January 1937 in Sakra Village in Dhamtari District. His father’s name was Bodhram, but Phool Singh Banjare, whose surname he adopted, raised him. The boy was exposed to Panthi by a twist of fate. As a youth, Banjare was a gifted Kabaddi player. As a result of an injury sustained during a match, he had to stop playing the game. Banjare then shifted his attention to Panthi dance. He had to practice hard and strengthen his body because the dance required strength and vigour.
Why did Devdas Banjare stop playing kabaddi? The Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) where Banjare worked as a dance teacher in the education department encouraged him to pursue his interest. Banjare brought much fame and honour to the BSP over a span of two decades.
The Panthi dance form belongs to the Satnami community in Chhattisgarh. The Satnamis consider Guru Ghasidasji as their Guru. Panthi dance is the medium through which they honour their Guru. Banjare had said in an interview, “It is the prime responsibility of individuals to maintain their body and health so as to properly use god’s gift to do good and discharge their responsibilities in a correct manner” According to Banjare, what is the most impotant responsiblity of any person?
In Panthi, the dancers perform various Mudras such as Jai Sthamb’, ‘Dharti Pranam’ (invocation to the land) and ‘Phool Arpan’ (offering flowers). The rich culture and legacy of the Satnami community is displayed through traditional costumes and more importantly the dancer’s energy. The ‘Ghungroo, the ‘Dhoti & Kurta’and the ‘Kanthi’ (garland made of Tulsi) comprise the costume of the dancer. Indigenous instruments such as the ‘Mandar’ (Dhol) accompany the artists in their performance.
The artiste had worked with Habib Tanvir’s New Theatre and had toured several countries for performances. His role in ‘Charandas Chor’a film by Shyam Benegal, had received critical acclaim. Banjare had performed in many of the Bharat Utsav festivals as a folk art representative of India. He had toured over 60 countries in his career spanning 30 years. He had received the Chief Minister’s gold medal in 1972, the President’s gold medal in 1975 and countless other felicitations.
Name a film in which Banjare acted.
Tragically, Devdas Banjare died in a car accident in 2005. His legacy however continues as several disciples trained by him continue to stage Panthi performances all over the country and abroad. Banjare’s commitment to Panthi was unparalleled and he dedicated his life to popularise the rich traditions and customs of his community and state.
Answer the following questions:
1. What is Devdas Banjare famous for?
2. How did Banjare get exposed to Panthi?
3. Which community is famous for its Panthi tradition?
4. Why does the community cherish the dance form so much?
5. Name some popular ‘Mudras’ in Panthi. 6. Explain in detail the costume of a Panthi dancer.