Shilpakala to hold National Jatra Festival in March
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy is going to organise National Jatra Festival featuring 64 palas from 64 districts in March.
The festival is an outcome of an initiative to promote the traditional performing art form. As part of the initiative, the academy has facilitated production of 64 jatra palas by jatra and theatre artistes from across the country under the supervision of district branches of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Jatra is a popular folk-theatre form of Bengali theatre, spread throughout most of Bengali speaking areas of the Indian subcontinent, including Bangladesh and Indian states of Pacchim Bangla, Bihar, Assam, Orissa and Tripura.
Jatras like Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah, Tipu Sultan, Bangali, Kohinur, Hatem Tai, Fakir Majnu Shah, Rajdanda, Mamatamoyi Ma, Sujon Beder Ghat, Raja Harishchandra, Banglar Mohanayak, Pritilata, Bagdatta, Bidrohi Buriganga, Kolikaler Meye and others are being produced by the district branches.
A number of palas have already been produced and staged at different districts by different district branches. Earlier, an eight-member jatra selection committee selected 64 jatra palas and sent them to the districts branches of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Among the selected jatras, there are 22 jatras featuring historical figures and events, 26 jatras depicting social messages and 16 lyrical jatras.
Besides the 64 jatras at 64 districts, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy is facilitating productions of five new palas by three jatra troupes and theatre departments of two universities. Desh Opera, Lokonatya Goshthi, Joyjatra, theatre and performance studies department of Dhaka University and drama and dramatics department of Jahangirnagar University are producing the palas.
The word jatra means journey or going. The origin of jatra intrinsically a musical theatre form, is traditionally credited to the rise of Sri Chaitanya's Bhakti movement, wherein Chaitanya himself played Rukmini in the performance of Rukmini Haran from Krishna's life story, a first definite presentation of this theatrical spectacle. The performance, which lasted through the night in 1507 AD has been described in Chaitanya Bhagavata, Chaitanya's hagiography by a disciple Vrindavana Dasa Thakura. Though there are evidences of existence of a form of singing called the 'Carya', which was popular between the 9th and the 12th centuries in Bengal, which existed in Orissa simultaneously as the popular 'Carya Padas' form. Jatra performances resemble the Nautanki of Uttar Pradesh, the Tamasha of Maharashtra and Bhavai of Gujarat.