Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Sound of the Tarpha Horn Beckons...

Every holiday celebration or ritual here in the jungle of Nimboli is full of surprise and wonder for us foreigner city folk and last Diwali was just that. We were invited to the village next door, Dadoraipada, to witness their games and competions and inevitably, see a slice of Adivasi or Warli village life that is over 5000 years old. This is the same village life that is seen the famous Warli paintings, such as to the above. Seven ambitious young men of Dadoraipada wanted to inspire their village to celebrate Diwali in a way that would bring out the best of each person. So, they devised many games for both sexes, and all ages. They were emphatic that this what not a party! The implied meaning was that a party involved alcohol.

We were shocked and delighted to be asked to judge the cook off contest for the women. We felt very included in their fun. Lucky for us, the six dishes were very good and obvious examples of local Maharashtran food. We really had no idea what we were eating except to say it was chicken, vegetables or dessert. The judging was quite easy for there was an obvious winner in each class. We didn't know any of the participants, so we were a good choice for their judging.
The young boys played running games and the young girls dancing games. But when all the games were played and the prizes awarded, out came THE HORN, THE TARPHA HORN! Oh My, what a haunting sound. Mesmerizing! Enchanting! Intoxicating!

And then I see my dance partner! She is a village lady about my age who I met last year at a neighbor's wedding reception. We discovered each other on that dance floor and "shook our thing" together--maybe I overstepped what is proper for a foreigner, but I had a fabulous time "letting go" with her. Probably could not have done this even if it was my husband, but that it was with another woman, it seemed acceptable. I did hear a little gossip about it later, but it seemed pretty harmless in the long run.

There we are in the outdoors, surrounded by a whole village of people I don't know. What have I got to lose? I realize I have to seize the moment! My friend is out on the dance floor with all of her friends, wearing the traditional Adivasi saree, wrapped like a tight pants suit. Maybe you have seen the style that the older village women wear. She is happy to see me and I immediately convince her that she has to teach me how to dance and join them in the dancing. She is very enthusiastic about teaching me and off we go into the middle of the dance floor. Amidst hoots and laughs, I find my dancing feet!
Please click on this link to the little video we put together of this magical event. The rhythm of the dancing, the clapping of the dancers, and the sound of the horn will certainly make you want to get up and dance. Come to Nimboli and join us next time!

In this Warli painting you see the Tarpha horn, the lead dancer with the stick that keeps the rhythm, and the sprial of dancers. If you look close, you can see me!

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