UNI – Friday, June 19 1998
DEHRA DUN: People of the Doon valley today cannot boast of participating in cultural activity which can stimulate their creativity and help them develop a greater appreciation for the performing arts.
There was a time when theatre groups in the valley were quite active and young people were provided with an opportunity to learn as well as witness the finer aspects of these performances. But now, things have changed tremendously and the town’s cultural life is confined to occasional fashion shows and various dance programmes (western) organised by hotels here.
This fact has led to a serious trend of the valley’s youth turning more and more towards a lifestyle totally alien to the native cultural associated with this hill region. The folk arts and crafts of “Garhwal” are gradually fading away due to lack of encouragement. People sincerely concerned about this trend have begun to feel helpless as a strong wave of western culture sweeps the valley.
About two decades ago, a large number of the residents of Doon were enrolled at various music academies and seriously pursued training in Indian classical music, both vocal as well as instrumental. Today, it is a very different story with children and teenagers mostly interested in learning how to play popular filmi tunes on the electronic keyboard.
Theatre and classical music have now taken a backseat while the popularity of the “May Queen Balls”, “Romantic Evenings”, “Navy Balls”, “Fashion Shows” and several amateur orchestra groups today indicate the cultural milieu of the Doon valley.
The concept of modernity for the valley’s youth has become synonymous with western ideas and values which they try to adopt without realising their significance and relevance for them.
Though the valley has an active “Spic Macay” chapter, most of the young people associated with it have merely superficial knowledge of Indian classical music and culture, which the wish to promote among youth.
While local talent is hardly encouraged, renowned performing artistes from all over the country are invited to the valley by several groups which professionally manage various events.
There is a crying need for individuals and organisations in the town to support and sponsor performances of artistes belonging to this region. A theatre workshop being conducted at present in the valley by Mr Alok Ulfat could receive no support from any of the numerous institutes located in the Doon valley. An individual’s sincere efforts to revive the cultural ethos of the valley has thus failed to become a venture supported by organisations responsible for encouraging such efforts.
With some rethinking on the part of the new generation, there is no reason as to why the classical forms of theatre and music cannot be rejuvenated to enrich the cultural experience of the inhabitants of this ancient valley of the “Devbhoomi” of “Garhwal”.