Padma Shri Mukund Nayak will soon be hitting the road with his brand of Jhumar song-and-dance to spread the good word about elections and voting, a task that he has willingly accepted after being declared a “state icon” by chief electoral officer of Jharkhand L. Khiangte.
“I have been told to create awareness among voters for the ‘sahi vote sahi admi ko (right vote to the right candidate)’ campaign. We are thinking of performing traditional songs and dances to try and encourage people to exercise their franchise and take part in the formation of a government,” Nayak (69), who received the Padma Shri in 2017 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2019, told The Telegraph on Friday.
The folk hero of Jharkhand said he and his troupe would use songs translated in regional languages for a better connect with the people.
“I have been told that I would be getting publicity materials from the election commission which we will also use during my performances to encourage voter’s in various parts of the state. I will take it as an opportunity to reach out to people by using local languages like Mundari, Khortha, Nagpuri, Kurmali and Santhali,” he said, adding that he would, thereby, try and revive the culture of the akhara, or open house, a dying tradition of evening congregations in villages for a few hours of music, poetry and dance.
Khiangte said Mukund Nayak’s name was recommended as the state icon on Thursday and sent to the Election Commission of India.
“We will soon be sending publicity material to Nayak so that he can create voters’ awareness programmes in various parts of the state under SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation),” the chief electoral officer said, adding that the commission had also chosen district icons who would be creating similar awareness programmes in districts.
“We had asked electoral officers (deputy commissioners) of each district to recommend names based on which the selection was done Thursday evening,” he said.
But Ranchi is yet to decide on an icon. And Ranchi deputy commissioner Rai Mahimapat Ray explained why. “We had recommended Nayak as a district icon. But the chief electoral officer thought it was best for him to represent the state of Jharkhand. Now, we will send a fresh name for the district icon to the election commission soon,” he said.