Tiwa community finally on theatrical map


Towards the latter part of last year, the cultural milieu of the Tiwa community of Assam received a shot in the arm with the staging of Ma Posmoda, the first play in Tiwa language. Ma Posmoda is significant from several aspects, primarily because of its emphasis on projecting the social and cultural heritage of the Tiwa community. The director, to further his objective, has used many as three traditional folk dance forms of the Tiwas, besides other folk traditions, in the play.

Developed around a story by Lasty Mithi, the play has been scripted, conceived and directed by Samiran Deka. The translation has been carried out by Merilin Madar and Dany Amsong. The play was staged during the Lankhan Puja festival of the Tiwas.

Recognized as a Scheduled Tribe within the State of Assam, the members of the Tiwa community reside along the Assam-Meghalaya border in Northeast India. They are divided into two sub-groups. The Tiwas were earlier referred to in ancient literature and colonial texts as the Lalungs. Though different opinions exist as to the migration of the Tiwas to their present day habitat, the Asomiya buranji recounts the important role played by the Gobha Roja in facilitating trade between the hills and the plains. The historic role of the Gobha Roja and the Tiwas as mediators between the plains and hills in Central Assam is enacted every year during the age-old Jonbeel mela – the only market in the world where barter is still the mode of economic deals!

Based on the ever-popular and simple “hurt-revenge” theme of plays that never seems to fail, the storyline of Ma Posmoda is weaved around the socio-cultural history of the Tiwa community. A group of young Tiwa boys, while taking shelter in a shamadi (youth shelter) and discussing their own activities, encounter an old man who is much loved by them. The old man narrates to them an old story that had been passed down the generations.

In his narrative, the old man talks about the love story of Mahasingh and Lokumuthi, both of whom loved each other a lot but who had to sacrifice their personal happiness in front of their duties towards their motherland. While both of them were preparing for their marriage engagement in the traditional way, the Maan (soldiers from Brahma) attached the village. Mahasingh urges the rest of the villagers to put up a brave resistance but unfortunately, all of them meet their end in the battlefield and the Tiwas succumb to the might of the Maan. Filled with loss at her lovers demise and also to save her motherland, Lokumuthi vows revenge against the Maan. Armed with bamboo sticks and after applying mustard seeds all over her body, she goes out to the battlefield and defeats the enemy.

Talking about this historical venture, the director Samiran Deka says, “Theatre is an area which remains largely unexplored in the Tiwa realm. We have woven this story around the socio-cultural heritage of the community. Besides various folk art forms, we have used three primary folk dance forms, Lankhan Mishowa, Yangli Mishwa and Panthai Salowan.

Now this is what I call a fresh beginning, really.

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Posted on January 10, 2011, in Concerts/ Reviews, Day-to-Day and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. incredible attemt.
    & hearty congrats to all associated with.

  2. congradulation to Mr. Dutta and Deka for their endeavor to showcase Tiwa culture through Drama. i am thankful to them for being the pioneer in this regard. their effort to stage a drama out of a very interesting aspect of the Tiwa culture and History is well appreciated. there are many themes, folk stories and legends among the Tiwas which can be a good plot for a drama and feature films.

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