Women Dhakis To Perform In city For First Time

Pranita Roy
Friday, 4 October 2019

With women dhakis (drummers) slowly emerging as popular faces playing dhak in West Bengal, Pune has not remained untouched by their reverberating beats.

Pune: With women dhakis (drummers) slowly emerging as popular faces playing dhak in West Bengal, Pune has not remained untouched by their reverberating beats. The ladies are making heads turn in Probashi land (outside Bengal) as well and for the first time, will be playing the dhak (dhol) during this Durga Puja at Khadki Kali Bari in Pune. 

Clad in ‘Lal Paar - Shada Saree’ (off-white saree with red border) the women’s group including an 11-year-old girl from West Bengal are all set to make the Puneities dance on their dhak beats.  Expressing their excitement about playing dhak in the city, the women drew comparisons with their Maharashtrian counterparts playing Dhol Tasha during the Ganesh festival. If they can, then why can’t we? they ask. “We have heard about them, we follow them (through social media) and have also performed with them in West Bengal. It is an honour to be invited to Pune where already women play dhol in large numbers,” said Shanti Bhaduri, a 21-year-old college student.

These women are trained dhunuchi dancers who were inspired to learn this percussion skill when they saw a news story about women dhakis in Kolkata.

“Their enthusiasm has brought them here. I didn’t have to ask them to join the group as dhakis,” said Barun Nandi (40), group leader of Bangla Natraj Dhunuchi Natya Shondha.

The group has been performing since last two years. “It took a while to get a hold on the dhak and how to play it. There are certain rules and a way in which you hold the dhak to play it nicely. We practised for three months before we first played it at a pujo, two years back,” said Bhaduri.

Trisha Das (11), the youngest female member of the group said, “I like dancing, but I can also play the dhak. I learnt it by observing the members of my group. I have the skill to adapt the beats and way of playing it easily.” 

Rita Das (51), the oldest among them, said, “Some people taunted us, told us that it isn’t our thing. But my family, especially my husband and daughter-in-law, stood by my side and encouraged me to be a part of it.”

Nandi stated that while some sections of the society easily accepted the change in dhakis, there were some who also discouraged them. “Interestingly, all those who had teased and mocked us for having women dhakis in the group, later invited us to perform at their pandals. Not only this, there have been many who have supported as widely and have recognised us. We have been getting invitations across the country and abroad,” said the proud group leader.

The group is a mix of home makers and college students. They practise for two hours in the evening after completing their daily chores.

“It gives us immense joy to play the dhak. We don’t find it heavy. The excitement itself carries us to the practice daily,” said 32-year-old Gopa Das who is also Trisha’s mother. Her husband is also part of the group.

Keeping classical dance alive

  • The objective of the group is to keep the classical dance alive through their dhunuchi dance. “All the classical dances evolved from devotional dances, dhunuchi is one among those. There was a period when dhunuchi dance had faded away. But now it has again picked up its craze among the people. Our motto is to keep it alive among our citizens. Now even during Ganesh Vandana you will find a couple of dhunuchi dancers at the corner,” said Debashish Chakravarty, member of the group.
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