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Drama on Witchcraft by Tribal Youth in Assam

By Fr. Tarcisius T & Mr. Manuranjan Doley
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Dimapur, Oct. 18. On October 10, 2011 I-CARD (Institution for Culture and Rural Development)organized a drama entitled 'Daini' meaning Witch, at Eporia M.E school, Dergaon of Golaghat District in Assam. The program, was based on the issue of witchcraft, a burning problem in the villages across Assam.
The three-hour long programme on a makeshift stage was witnessed by over 1200 people from three villages viz., Eporia, Kakotisuk and Souguri. Mr. Jugeswar Pegu, the village headman lit the lamp, invoking the blessing of God. Fr. Thomas, director of I-CARD  and Mr. Hiranya Pegu, a local teacher, joined in the lamp lighting ceremony. The introductory speech was given by Mr. Bapuram Pegu, Asstt. Teacher of Eporia M.E School. The aims and objectives of the drama were highlighted by Fr. K.A Thomas in his words of welcome.

The play written and produced by Mr. Rajen Perme, Director of Karsang Takar, Leadership Training Centre for school dropouts, focuses on the issue of witchcraft. For personal gains and for selfish interests, individuals, often ladies, are accused of being witches. After that, all the ills and woes that afflict the village, and all crop failures and unusual occurrences are attributed to this accused person.

More than a drama, the presentation was an awareness campaign, designed by I-CARD, to bring attitudinal change in the minds of villagers. Two German guests, Mr. Henry and Ms. Anna, who happened to be present for the show, were wonderstruck at the response of the people, and the effectiveness of the strategy employed by I-CARD to bring social transformation. Mr. Henry said: ''one thing is to read about I-CARD's activities, and it is another to see them in action.'' Back in Germany, Ms. Anna has herself produced and presented stage dramas.

The fact that Mr. Bapuram Pegu, a school teacher, left the foreign guests, and returned to the ground, not wanting to miss a minute of the drama, showed how well presented the performance was.  The entire audience sat through on the grass till the end, under the open sky.

The presentation in Eporia village was coordinated by Mr. Manoranjan Doley, the development manager of I-CARD. The actors and actresses were the 10th batch of school dropouts, being trained by I-CARD to become leaders of villages. Stage acting, street theatre, dance and other fine arts are part of their one year training. Every year, I-CARD trains 20 marginalized young people belonging to the Mising tribe. ''Only dropouts will remain on in their villages and bring development'', says Fr. Thomas. ''The educated will leave their homes and their villages in search of better opportunities.'' The young people have been giving their best - by way of time, energy and life itself. They are committed to work for their community till the end of their lives.  But, feels Fr. Thomas, the outside world is yet to realize that these marginalized and poor dropouts need a means to live on. They are hoping someone will hear their cry and give them a means of personal income generation.

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