Guwahati: For Gita, Roshni and Ronju, swinging from ropes, juggling through rings and getting applause from crowds are routine, but performing before their family members helps convince parents that they have an aspirational job. The three, like several others from Assam, are members of circus troupes based in different parts of the country, but they rarely get an opportunity to perform in their home state.
“It is for the first time that our parents have seen us perform. They have cheered and felt so proud. We are equally delighted that we could bring smiles to their faces. Earning accolades in the presence of parents is the experience we would cherish for the rest of our lives,” Gita Terongpi told PTI.
Gita and her elder sister Roshni, hailing from Hojai district, are part of the 35-member circus troupe performing at a ‘Hunar Haat’, organised by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs, here to promote traditional crafts and help artisans ensure their socio-economic upliftment.
Both performed dances with rings and ropes and were recruited and trained by a private company, with Roshni being the first to get into the profession, followed by Gita about three-four years back.
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Gita said they are regular members of ‘Rambo Circus’, based in Pune, and they are performing in Assam for the first time though they have toured various parts of Maharashtra.
”Our parents have seen our performance. It is now easier for us to convince them that we have a dignified job,” Gita said while ruing that many of their neighbours had raised questions on what the two sisters did in Pune.
They have come to their home state for the first time since COVID-induced lockdown.
Ronju Sangma, hailing from Goalpara district, said he is the third from his family to join the circus troupe.
“Around 10 artistes from Assam are in the circus troupe in Pune, and several others are also associated with different troupes. People from West Bengal visit our village and help us get into these teams,” he said. Ronju, who has been with the troupe for around eight years now, said poverty drives many from his village to the profession, and once they have performed for several years, they can secure a decent living for themselves.
There are many circus artistes from Manipur, with six of them being part of the troupe that is performing here, he said.
The circus troupes and entertainers were severely impacted during the lockdown, and the chance to perform at ‘Hunar Haat’ has been a relief for them, Biju Nair, leader of the troupe here, told PTI.
“I was not able to pay for my children’s education. Our circus owner was helping us as best he could during the lockdown, but he also had his limitations,” said Nair who hails from Kerala and is also the lead clown in the troupe. Associated with the profession for 40 years now, it is Nair’s first visit to the North East.
“We are touched by love and respect that people here have showered on us. They are offering us free tea and taking photos with us. We have been gifted with ‘gamochas’, traditional Assamese towel,” Nair said before he was choked with emotion.
Sachin and Abbas Malik, who are also visiting the northeast region for the first time as part of the troupe, said, “The crowd is praising our performance and giving respect. That’s all an artiste can ask for.” The troupe has been performing three one-hour shows daily at the 38th ‘Hunar Haat’, which began on March 11 and will continue till March 20.
Around 700 artisans and craftsmen from 30 states and Union Territories have participated in the Centre’s programme.
This is for the first time that ‘Hunar Haat’ has been organised in the northeast region.
Notably, a target was set to generate employment opportunities for 7.5 lakh artisans and craftsmen through 75 ”Hunar Haat”, to be organised across the country as a part of ”Amrit Mahotsav” of 75 years of India”s Independence.