Bamboo queen at Baliyatra

Cuttack: The historic Bali Yatra is now continuing in full swing in the silver city, Cuttack. Huge numbers of people are thronging daily to the festival ground. Various cultural troupes from across the state are staging a plethora of programmes at the Ganakabi Baishnab Pani Manch every day during the fair. Besides the Pallishreemela, food stalls, joy rides and amusement swings, one can witness another interesting but perilous show in the festival. You can witness a teenager girl performing on a rope that is fixed to a pair of crossed bamboos put at a height of about six to seven feet from the ground. Yes, she is the Bamboo queen. In Odia she is called ‘Baunsa-rani’.  We visited Baliyatra Saturday and came across the show and tried to talk to the performers.

We tried to talk to the girl’s father who tried his best to avoid the conversation. He just exhibited us a document where his family was authorised to perform the show and hesitantly spoke a few lines.

In this show the girl performs acrobatic tricks on a rope fixed to the crossed bamboo bars to the drumbeat played mostly by her father. The whole family performs in the show. While the father and mother play drum and percussion, sometimes the younger kids (of the family) show tricks on the ground. Important thing is the family performs such shows to earn their livelihood.

At a time when we are talking about human rights, it is shocking to witness a minor girl performing on the crossed bamboo at a height of about six to seven feet above the ground for the livelihood. She may fall and get hurt. Of course, we witnessed that her father was alert and always playing the drum standing right under her daughter so that if she fails to keep the balance (and falls) he can catch her.

A lot of practice is needed to become an expert of the trick. Otherwise, the player may fall and resultantly receive severe injury. We talked to Soyong, a spectator of the show to know his perspective. He said, “The show involves exhibition of perilous tricks. And adolescent girls mostly perform it. Because the family is poor, the family members are forced to perform such shows. Hence, the government or social organisations should come forward to financially help out such families so that at least minor girls/boys should not perform. At least the performer should be in a position to know about the risks involved in the show. And a minor girl is not expected to know the consequence. If a major citizen would perform the show, there is no harm.”

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