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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 05 March 2024

Sunderbans street theatre speaks for the mangroves

Local troupes perform simple plays on ecology to engage villagers

Subhasish Chaudhuri Kalyani Published 08.10.21, 12:14 AM
Members of the Krishnagar Sinchan theatre group perform in the Sunderbans earlier this week.

Members of the Krishnagar Sinchan theatre group perform in the Sunderbans earlier this week. Mehaboob Gazi

A theatre troupe from Nadia’s Krishnagar has enlisted the help of local theatre groups for to create awareness among residents of the Sunderbans delta on the need to stop illegal felling of trees in the mangroves to halt erosion.

In its first phase, which began on October 3, members of the Krishnagar Sinchan troupe organised interactive street plays across remote areas of the region to make people understand the ecological importance of mangroves.

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The series, titled ‘O Nodi rey! (O river!)’ was staged at Satjelia, Kumirmari, Kalidaspur, Canning and other villages in South 24-Parganas with the support of theatre groups Marichjhanpi Golpata, Fulmalancha Katha Natya Sanstha, and the Sunderbans Puppet Theatre.

Krishnagar Sinchan director Susanta Halder said: “It’s a collective effort for a great cause. The mangrove is a shield for the people of the Sunderbans. But unfortunately, that shield is not in a healthy state, and needs to be sustained with care and protection. We have taken up an initiative to convey this message among people, as unless they come forward, nothing can work to save the mangroves.”

“It is easier to reach people through theatre, as hard facts can be made clear in a palatable, even enjoyable way,” Halder added further.

The Sunderbans are a cluster of islands in the Bay of Bengal, spanning the coastline of West Bengal and Bangladesh. The forest delta hosts the world’s largest mangrove, with an area of about 1,000 sq km of which 60 per cent is in Bangladesh.

The mangrove functions as a shield during cyclones too. But the decaying mangrove owing to illegal felling and large-scale erosion are a serious worry for survival and safety of residents.

“We never heard the importance of mangroves put forth so simply,” said Nimai Biswas, a resident of Satjelia, who watched a few street acts.

A member of the Sinchan troupe said: “We are just trying to make people feel the need for mangroves, the river and nature around them. That’s their lifeline. We used street theatre to touch their hearts.”

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