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Legacy Keepers: Preserving India's Artistic Treasures

Legacy Keepers: Celebrating India’s Art Forms

Author: Yashasvini Jindal

Photographs: Sanjay Austa

Published by Nataraj Books

MPR: Rs. 750/-

India is a land of diverse cultures, traditions, and art forms that have been nurtured and preserved for centuries. From the intricate dance forms like Bharatanatyam and Kathak to the vibrant folk paintings of Warli and Madhubani, India boasts an astonishing array of local art forms that embody the essence of its rich heritage. Celebrating these art forms is not only a matter of pride but also crucial for the preservation and promotion of India's unique cultural identity.

First and foremost, celebrating India's various local art forms is a way of honoring the craftsmanship and creativity of the countless artisans who have dedicated their lives to mastering these skills. Many of these art forms have been passed down through generations within families or communities, making them repositories of ancestral knowledge and wisdom. By acknowledging and appreciating these artists, we encourage the continuation of their artistic traditions, ensuring that they are not forgotten or lost with time.

Art forms are not static; they evolve with time and adapt to changing circumstances. By celebrating India's local art forms, we encourage the fusion of traditional and contemporary elements, which keeps the art alive and relevant to modern sensibilities. It enables artists to experiment, innovate, and reach a broader audience, bridging the gap between the past and the present.

Yashaswi Jindal's new book "Legacy Keepers" is a fascinating look into the world of rare classical and folk dance traditions still being performed in parts of India today. Through meticulous research and vivid storytelling, Jindal brings to life the passions of the artists who sustain these ancient art forms against all odds.

The book focuses on two little-known dance traditions - Nangiarkoothu, a solo Sanskrit drama performed only by women, and Teyyam, a sacred ritual dance invoking local deities. Jindal traces their origins, giving historical context to help readers understand their religious and social significance over centuries. We get a vivid glimpse into these dance forms not just as performative arts but as living spiritual traditions deeply tied to local customs and beliefs.

A major strength of the book lies in the author's sensitive portrayals of the dancers themselves. Through extensive interviews, she reveals their devotion and struggles to keep these niche art forms alive today. We meet female Nangiarkoothu performers breaking gender barriers in a traditionally male-dominated temple space. Teyyam dancers share how they channel divine energies during intense trance-like states. Jindal succeeds in conveying these artists' pride and sense of duty as "Legacy Keepers" even as their traditions fade in relevance for younger generations.

The book is visually striking as well, with copious full-color photos allowing readers to fully appreciate the elaborate costumes and makeup of the dancers. For art and culture enthusiasts interested in India's performing arts, "Legacy Keepers" provides a tantalizing introduction to two lesser-known but culturally significant dance forms. It serves as a timely reminder that intangible cultural heritage like these performing arts needs support and appreciation before it is lost forever.

Celebrating India's various local art forms is of paramount importance in preserving the country's cultural heritage, promoting artistic diversity, fostering unity, and supporting economic growth. Embracing these art forms allows us to connect with our roots and appreciate the beauty that lies within our traditions. As we move forward into the future, let us remember the significance of cherishing and promoting India's diverse art forms for generations to come.

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