“Gavari—from Tradition to Performance,” an ICH Conservation & Promotion Event Generates Energy, Awe, & Applause

Lokesh Paliwal, Writer& Director introducing actors of Bhiyawad to audience © W.David Kubiak

The Udaipur-based West Zone Cultural Centre (WZCC) has long supported the ongoing Rediscovering Gavari Project (RGP) to promote Gavari, an indigenous ritual. As an effort to bring Gavari dance drama to the stage for the first time, WZCC launched a ten-day theater workshop dubbed as “Gavari—From Tradition to Performance” on 3 May 2018. The workshop exposed Gavari players to new theatrical skills and their traditions to a wider audience. Sixteen young Jadhol folk artists volunteered to participate and were mentored by mime master and former WZCC program officer, Vilas Janve; ex-TRI program officer, Bhagwan Kachaava; and veteran film and stage artist, Deepak Dixit.

Dramatist/project coordinator, Lokesh Paliwal, adapted the classic Bhiyawad story for this presentation, based on documentarian Harish Agneya’s extensive research. The condensed forty-minute drama exemplifies Gavari’s ritual artistry and celebrates the primacy of the goddess’ energy to protect the social and natural worlds. The gods were powerless against Bhiyawad, the demon king who conquered heaven and earth. The tale relates how Goddess Gavari manifests herself as three beautiful fierce devis who lure Bhiyawad into battle and terminate his evil reign.

On 12 May 2018, a warm appreciative audience filled Shilpgram’s Darpan Hall for the debut presentation; the young troupe responded with great poetic energy. According to the RGP team publicist W. David Kubiak, “this novel experiment offered a rough translated glimpse of Gavari’s spirited artistry, which we hope will inspire people to experience its true power in the villages; and reassure tribal youth that their traditions and values are vital to our collective future, and the outside world is finally listening.”

The Rediscovering Gavari Project supporters are primarily working to raise awareness about Gavari among the people, but they are also striving to inspire more interest and support from public officials. In fact, WZCC Director Furqan Khan escorted the Honourable Shri Raghvendra Singh, Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, to visit Lokesh at a workshop session to receive a copy of the world’s first English Gavari introduction. Together, they hope that increased attention will help preserve Gavari and other threatened intangible heritage treasures.