Group: Ramesh Prasad Pal and Group
Ramesh Pal is one of the few people from his village who graduated from college, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Arts from Kanpur University. Belonging to the Pal Gadariya community, he is from a family that has practised and performed Diwari Pai Danda for 4-5 generations. The art form is closely associated with the festival of Diwali. On the second day, they would decorate and worship cows and spend the day in silence and fasting. Ramesh Pal was involved in these celebrations from a young age and took a keen interest in Pai Danda. He first learnt it from his father and later learnt gymnastics and martial arts from his guru, Hari Pal. He has been a full-time Diwari performer and trainer and takes pride in taking this culture forward.
On the outskirts of Banda, in a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, Ramesh Pal and his group practice and perform this dance. Ramesh Pal points to the akhada and says that he and his group practice there every day of the week, all through the year, with no exceptions but for the death of someone in their village. He actively looks for new avenues for his group to perform Diwari and actively lobbies with government officials and other influential people to arrange shows. Ramesh also wishes Diwari to be performed at weddings and other events in Bundelkhand to get greater visibility and respect.
Ramesh also points out the risks involved in performing this dance. It involves risky movements and formations, and the artists are always at risk of injury. Ramesh appeals that the government must devise a solution to ensure safety and insurance against mishaps while performing. When questioned about the involvement of women in this art, he candidly says that although mainstream media and journalists push for innovation and involvement of women in this art form, he believes it is not very honourable for women to perform Diwari as it is a traditionally masculine art form and a display of manly qualities like strength, vigour and valour.
- Uttar Pradesh