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Band bonds with tribal banam

The Santhal banam, which was dying a slow death like most other tribal instruments, seems to have received a fresh lease of life.

Thanks to the efforts of Tribal Cultural Society, Tata Steel, the stringed instrument recently had its tryst with bass guitar at a joint performance by four percussionists from the state and noted fusion band Indian Ocean.

The concert, organised jointly by Civil Society Magazine and Tata Steel, was held at Indian Habitat Centre in New Delhi on October 16.

Made of wood, hair from a horse’s tail, chameleon’s skin and bandages, the banam looks similar to a violin.

Artistes Kinu Suraj Tudu, Pradhan Hembrom, Salkhan Soren and Nuna Majhi shared the stage with Indian Ocean and kept the audience rivetted with a string of fusion performances.

“The show was a grand success in many ways. Banam, which is on the verge of extinction, made its presence felt on national stage. The audience was extremely appreciative of this instrument,” said Urmila Ekka, senior manager, tribal services, corporate sustainability services, Tata Steel.

She added that the steel behemoth would try to showcase more tribal instruments.

Kinu Suraj Tudu said tunes of tribal instruments like banam could be preserved only when future generations take them up.

“We feel proud that the banam found a stage in Delhi. We hope to see more fusion performances with tribal instruments,” he added.

To preserve the instrument, Tribal Cultural Society started banam classes at Karandih last year. Currently, there are 60 students, including eight girls, taking lessons six days a week.