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From Siolim to New Delhi: Zagor set to make national debut

Republic Day is marked by the parade of the tableaux that represents the various aspects of the cultural diversity in the country. Goa has this year again set up a tableaux that represents the cultural harmony in the state. NT BUZZ talks to the artists behind the Zagor tableau

Janice Rodrigues|NT BUZZ


Every year Republic Day, January 26, brings along with it an excitement when the Rajpath in New Delhi is thronged with a multitude of people and the rest of the country eagerly watches Doordarshan in anticipation of the live telecast of the Republic Day Parade. From the NCC cadets and school children performing to the sheer daredevilry displayed by the motorcycle units of the Armed Forces, every Indian is filled with awe and patriotism when they witness the parade. The atmosphere gets more tensed as various states begin rolling out their tableaus, which compete for the prestigious best tableau prize. States begin preparations well in advance for the celebrations, and Goa is not far behind.

With artisans, carpenters and other craftpersons setting up base in the national capital for the past month, Goa seems to have geared up for today’s celebrations. “Every year the tableau depicts something that is distinctly Goan and this year we have decided to depict the cultural and religious harmony in the state, by using the folk form of Zagor, especially that of the Siolim Zagor,” says director of Information and Publicity, Jayant Atari.

Under the aegis of chief artist Sushant Khedekar ably assisted by artist Dayanand Bhagat from Marcel the tableau depicts the various forms of the Zagor. “The tableau showcases the religious harmony that our state is so proud of. We have set it up to represent the architecture of Goa, with its temples and even a small cross,” says Sushant. The tableau has a lot of intricately designed nuances that represent all that Goa stands for. “A tableau should always be designed in such a way that when a person sees it, it should remind you of Goa even without anyone mentioning it to you,” says Sushant, who has worked on earlier tableaus, since 2002.

The cultural and religious harmony that Goa so prides itself over, is epitomised in the form of the Siolim Zagor, where people from both the major religions, Hinduism and Christianity, stand united in the performance. “This is why we chose to perform and represent it in our tableau,” says Sushant. He further explained that the Zagor has three variants, Gauda, Kunbi and Perni. “All the three forms of the Zagor have found expression in the tableau. Perni zagor uses masks in the performance and we have depicted that in the tableau too. Performers will be seen wearing masks of characters like demons, supernatural forces and other such figures characteristic of the Perni Zagor, while the tableau itself finds expression of the Gawda Zagor,” says Sushant. The tableau has the character of the ‘Garasher’ which is prominently displayed – the Garasher along with the ‘Nikhandar’ and the ‘Parpati’ are characters associated with the Gawda Zagor.

The temple architecture finds representation in the form of the Nagarkhana – the entrance arch to the temple. This is ably complimented by the small crosses that flank the central pillar. This was built to represent the harmony in which the state revels. “Everywhere you go in Goa you are bound to find a temple and a cross in close proximity of each other, this is something that we can see only in this state of the entire country,” says Sushant.

The design and structure may be one major aspect of the tableau, but what gives it life is the human touch to the tableaux. The twenty six performing artistes that have been relentlessly practising over the past fortnight in Delhi have been choreographed by Bipin Khedekar to tunes composed by Mukesh Ghatwal. Bipin says he has worked hard to see this through. “We have been practising for a while now, and for the last fifteen days the dancers have been practising in Delhi. We had a dress rehearsal and all went well, we just hope that we do well on the 26th as well,” says Bipin. Elaborating about his choreography, he says: “I have incorporated the facets of all three Zagors into the performance. There will be ten artistes on the float while sixteen of them will be on the ground. We have used masks, as used in the actual Zagors.” He further gives insight as to why the Zagor is considered a symbol of religious harmony. He says that the Zagor is a form of the zatra where both religions participate by dancing all through the night, “The people in Goa believe that by staying awake and dancing all through the night, the deities will be pleased and they will take care of their crop. The Zagor is thus an ultimate example of religious harmony. That is why we decided to use it as a theme in the tableau,” says Bipin.

The dance of the devotees may have saved many crops, now we will have to wait and see if the Zagor gets the Goa tableau the prestigious prize in the competition.

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