With an intent to promote and preserve traditional art and culture of Himachal Pradesh, people across the hill State in North India celebrated ‘Pahari Divas’ with pomp and fervor on November 1. The three-day festival concluded on the day of Pahari Divas, a day to remember, promote and preserve the tradition of the hill culture of Himachal.
The traditional folk sport called ‘Thoda’ was the main attraction of the ‘Pahari Divas’ in the State capital of Shimla.
‘Thoda’ is an Indian form of archery found in Himachal Pradesh, with elements of dance and music included. It is generally performed during various local festivals alongside other traditional games and may be a symbolic representation of the war described in the Mahabharata.
“We celebrate Pahari Divas every year with a lot of literature and poetic programmes. This year, we have tried to bring in traditional folk from all parts of the state, dances and culture here at the ridge to draw the attention of people, including tourists. We have been celebrating Pahari Divas since 1966,” said Manjeet Sharma, organiser and joint director of the Language, art and Culture Department of the Himachal Pradesh Government.
“The young dancers performed ‘Thoda’, a dance and sports form of the Mahabharata age. It is the responsibility of society and departments to promote it. If these artists have some demands, they would be fulfilled,” added Manjeet Sharma.
Shamsher Singh Kreik, team leader of ‘Thoda’ Dance, told media, “The elders who have been performing this rich culture of ‘Thoda’ dance and sports are happy as young people are taking the lead to promote and preserve the folk art form. It is our responsibility to preserve and promote it. We appreciate the attempt of the language arts and culture department of the state government to organise ‘Pahari divas’ and promote the folk culture.”
Shamsheer Singh, the 57-year-old ‘Thoda’ dancer, has also introduced his two sons to the dance form. His elder son has completed an MBA degree and another is a law student. He is happy that the young generation is following this tradition.
Rajat Singh Kreik, a ‘Thoda’ player, also spoke to media about the issue and said, “It is a tradition on the Pahari Divas of Himachal Pradesh to display our folk artform to tourists and others. The equipment needed for this sport is very expensive. For example, one team requires 70 to 75 thousand rupees for three days of sport, which we have to do by voluntary contribution. We demand from the Government that it organise tournaments and competitions for this. It should be brought into the curriculum as it is a form of martial art.”
This remnant of martial culture is popular in the districts of Shimla, Sirmaur and Solan. Probably best described as a group demonstration sport, ‘Thoda’ is the art of archery. It takes its name from the circular wooden ball used to replace the deadly arrowhead.
‘Thoda’ is a martial art form from Himachal Pradesh, India. It’s a combination of archery, dance, and music.
‘Thoda’ may be a symbolic representation of the war described in the Mahabharata. It’s believed to have originated as a form of martial art performed by the Pandavas and Kauravas in the Mahabharata. Thoda is generally performed during various local festivals alongside other traditional games. It’s performed by the Rajputs in the districts of Sirmour, Shimla and Solan in Himachal Pradesh.
(with inputs from ANI)