27 December, 2008
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Alongside ‘lathials’ from different parts of the country, participants of the workshop (bottom-right) presented an improvised ‘lathi khela’ based performance. Photo: Mumit M.
A spirited demonstration of 'lathi khela' was on at the Bakultala premises, Charukala (Faculty of Fine Arts, DU) yesterday morning. The demonstration was part of a five-day workshop that began on December 22. Shadhona -- a centre for advancement of South Asian music and dance -- arranged the workshop, which was conducted by artiste Sutapa Pradhan from Medinipur, West Bengal.

Troupes from Kushtia, Jhenidah, Sirajganj and Manikganj as well as students who attended the workshop demonstrated the indigenous art form for over an hour. Participants of the workshop presented an improvised performance of 'lathi khela'.

"The purpose of the workshop is to generate awareness on this art form among the urbanites. We plan to arrange another programme of this kind in the coming months," said noted danseuse and general secretary of Shadhona, Lubna Mariam, who works on different indigenous performing art forms.

'Lathi khela' has a remarkable history. But at present the art form is on the verge of extinction.

"Till 1989, we used to arrange an annual nationwide 'lathi khela' convention in Kushtia, where troupes form all over the country took part. But due to financial constraints, we can only hold the convention once every three years now," said Shahina Sultana Dwiju of Bangladesh Lathial Bahini. Shahina is a third generation 'lathial' ('lathi khela' performer). Her daughter too is involved in this art form.

"If we think positively about this art form then it would be possible to revive it to its old glory," said Mariam.

Mariam also informed that Kazi Kayes of Black Belt Academy associated in conducting the workshop with different tips on the martial dance form.

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