Lost in oblivion, mohuri tune

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By AMULYA KUMAR PATI
  • Published 15.10.10
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Jajpur, Oct. 14: Mohuri, a unique wind musical instrument, is on the verge of extinction in the state due to lack of encouragement by the government. The mohuri is usually played during religious ceremonies such as weddings, bratopanayan or any form of worship. With each passing day, the number of mohuri players — known as mohurias who adopted this age-old profession as the lone source of livelihood — are on the decline.

The mohuri players who were earning their livelihood from their age-old practice are mostly sitting idle now. Most of them have abandoned their profession and adopted begging to eke out their living. A handful of old men who still hold on to this profession, have been facing difficulties to keep up the art alive as there is no demand for the skill.

“Playing mohuri is our family business, but the tradition has almost become extinct because it does not help in earning our bread and butter at the present times. Apart from playing mohuri, earlier we used to get handsome return by conducting vasectomy operation on live stock and selling jute items such as rope shelf, string and tether,” said Babaji Charan Nayak (75) of Nathuabar village.

“Now we have become useless as plastic replaced the jute items and people started conducting vasectomy operation on their live stock at the government veterinary hospital at free of cost. People remember us only when rendition of this musical instrument is needed, particularly on auspicious or religious occasions,” said the septuagenarian mohuri player adding that even in propitious ceremonies one can earn as low as a labour.

“I am forced to go begging in order to feed my five members as playing Mohuri is not conducive to my livelihood,” said Babaji to The Telegraph.

Mohurias are mostly seen in many parts of the Rasulpur, Bari, Dasarathapur and Jajpur blocks in the district.

Hundreds of mohurias have abandoned this unproductive job of playing mohuri, which has been for generations, the traditional source of income for hundreds of their families. Some of these families are taking up other work as an alternative means of livelihood.

“Playing mohuri was our family profession for decades. But it could not yield enough to support our family. I am being forced by my family to give up this profession and start some other work, which will pay us dividends. Many of my fellow villagers have quit and they are now selling vegetables on road-sides,” says Narayan Nayak of the village.

However there are some old mohurias who have kept up the art of playing Mohuri against all odds and despite living in penury.

“Mohuri has lost its demand these days. It became useless, as there many substitute electronic instrument available in the e-age market such as Yamaha Casio. In older days mohuri was indispensable on auspicious or religious ceremonies, but the present generation feels ashamed to use this musical instrument,” said Dr. Rama Chandra Sahu, a researcher.

“Despite all odd, a handful of mohurias have preserved age-old profession of their grand father’s period,” Dr Sahu said.But the decorators feel the band parties are in good demand even now and the mohurias have to modernise to cope with the present society.“Band parties are in good demand on all occasions, right from religious ceremony to political occasion. Mohuri, flute and begul, the wind musical instruments have a great role in it. They have to upgrade their instruments and replace them by the new ones as it is the demand of modern times,” said Bhagabat Parida, a decorator who operates three band parties.