(Last Updated on : 24/08/2015)
Gambhira is a folk musical theatre in Bengal. Some part of the Gambhira festival dedicated to Siva from April to June in and around Maldah district. The festival features a large body of rituals, ceremonial processions, and masked dances as in the other variations of Gajan. Gajan is the Siva festival celebrated in mid-April all over Bengal. Growing out of its earlier form, Bolbahi or Bolbai, which centred more directly on local characters and scandals, and often faced resistance from its targets, Gambhira underwent a transformation with nationalist intervention in the early twentieth century. The new style, often performed before an image of Siva installed in a hut open on three sides, begins with a chorus, usually of four singers, invoking him.
Siva appears in his popular manifestation, bare-bodied with matted hair and tiger skin around his waist, to listen to complaints. Siva is frequently presented through a series of satiric skits illustrating situations of denial and deprivation, and accusing the authorities, both local and national as well. Siva was a sympathetic listener, sometimes visits the authorities to plead the villagers' cases, albeit with little effect. The performers represent several vocations, classes, and castes, projecting what a British administrator-surveyor described officially in 1918 as an 'annual review of the acts of the year and penance for misdeeds'. Siva remains essentially a friend of the common people and a wise guardian, addressed familiarly as nana or grandfather. Several Gambhira troupes operate during the season, and even beyond at folk festivals sponsored by the state government or other organizations, the strong topicality of their themes and the subjects of their songs helping them to retain their popularity.
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