Berhampur, Sept 4 (LocalWire): The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Bhagaban Patra, a famous conch-blower to play a different role.
Instead of training their students at Badakushasthali near Silk City in the different poses of conch blowing for different occasions, the 57-year old folk artist is involved searching for work these days.
Patra, who represented India different countries in various folk dances, is now working as a farm labourer.
Like Patra, several folk artists, especially the conch-blowers in Ganjam district have adopted odd jobs at present.
With celebrations restricted to a limited number of people in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, some like Patra adopted odd jobs.
Like Patra, around 2000 members of around 150 conch-blower groups in the district who used to make their living through blowing conches for different celebrations like wedding processions, visit of the VIPs like chief minister Naveen Patnaik (as the symbol of the ruling BJD is the conch shell), are now scrambling to earn.
“Almost six months into the pandemic, we have not received any order,” said Rajendra Patra, a folk dance master of Bada Kushasthali village.
Fifty-year-old Rajendra, who had performed his folk dances like Jodi Sankha Dhwani (twin crunch blowing), Ranapa, Chadheya, tiger dance in different parts of the country and out of the country, said they used to get an average of 20 invitations every month before the pandemic period.
During the pandemic period, he said that they had made a six-minute online programme by taking 15 artists; each of them earned Rs 1000.
Rajendra had performed the dance seven times in Republic Day celebration, gold jubilee celebration of India Independence, Commonwealth Games programme in 2010, Appana Utsav, Mumbai and also had staged in several other countries.
“We have also performed on every occasion of the visit of the chief minister, blowing up a conch for the regional party during every election as the party’s symbol is conch,” said G. Krishna Reddy.
Others in different professions are getting benefits from the government.
At the same time, the government has to think for the folk artists-especially conch blowers, who had played a crucial role during the election to garner the support of people and to bring them to power, said an artist.