Chhau artistes will spread awareness on social
issues from June 20
A chhau performance on safe sex?
What sounds unbelievable is actually an entertaining way to communicate some serious facts of life to the rural masses, feel Jharkhand State AIDS Control Society (JSACS) and National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
Come June 20 and chhau and jhumar folk dancers will travel across the hinterland, performing skits based on scripts given by NACO. The topics will range from safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases, youth and HIV/AIDS to safe blood transfusion as well as social stigma, how to prevent HIV transmission from parent to child and what the government’s Integrated Counselling Testing Centres are all about.
Around 30 troupes — 20 of chhau and 10 of jhumar — comprising 10 members each will regale rural masses on these sensitive and often complex issues through 300 folk programmes across all 24 districts.
It is a three-month experiment till August. But, AIDS control outfits feel it will work, given that lively folk dances, replete with tribal percussion instruments such as dhol, mandar and nagada, are a part and parcel of rural life.
Performers, selected by Song and Drama Division under the Union ministry of information and broadcasting, have already been trained by NACO.
“Folk dances hold sway in villages. We are sure that people will come to watch. Then, they will listen to the message behind the entertainment,” said state AIDS control society project director Aradhana Patnaik.
The state AIDS control society had chosen the ‘infotainment’ route to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS through nukkad natak.
But for the 2012-13 fiscal, the society at the NACO’s behest, decided to spread awareness through folk performances.
In May, the society conducted a two-day refresher course for all district programme managers to chalk out the strategies to implement this ambitious communication programme, where it was decided that the first phase would start from June 20 till August.
The second phase will start from December-end.
Wedged in between will be the Red Ribbon Express and IC (Information-Communication) Van, plying in 24 districts.
Patnaik said that at the national workshop, they had shown slides related to chhau and jhumar.
“NACO officials appreciated them highly. We also bagged the Kala Award for showcasing the best folk art among all states. Our chhau artistes narrated awareness messages on HIV and AIDS beautifully,” said the project director.