From a skit campaign against coal smuggling to playing Gandhiji's teen bandar, from Manbhum Chhau to performing Manipur's martial art dance thang-ta ' jhakis (tableaux) packed with socio-cultural messages set the perfect tone for the 28th East Zone Inter-university Youth Festival, which began at Ram Dayal Munda Kala Bhavan in Hotwar, Ranchi, on Friday.
Supported by Association of Indian Universities and the Government of India, the festival is being held in the state capital for the first time.
Cultural processions by 16 participating teams from various varsities of Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and the North-east marked the opening ceremony, which was followed by a formal welcome session, addressed by the vice chancellor of host Ranchi University (RU).
"Over 500 participants are taking part in the event. It is a great honour for us and we will surely put up a great show as the host," said L.N. Bhagat.
State HRD minister Baidyanath Ram, who was the chief guest on the occasion, threw the festival open. Out of the total 25 events scheduled throughout the four days, only two ' folk/tribal dance and classical dance competitions ' were held in the evening.
Despite the nail-biting contests, it were the jhakis that left an indelible imprint on audience memory with their novelty and out-of-the-box themes.
The burning issue of coal smuggling and exploitation of mine workers was aptly depicted by the team from Hazaribagh's Vinoba Bhave University. "Coal smuggling is a serious problem in this part of Jharkhand, which goes unnoticed and is often not addressed because of political patronage. This is the reason we chose it as our theme," said an official of the team.
Banaras Hindu University from UP portrayed Mahatma Gandhi's three wise monkeys representing the principle of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".
Bihar's Lalit Narayan Mithila University took a leaf out of Ramayana, portraying the royal union of Ram and Sita, while RU, Kolhan University, Gauhati University and Rabindra Bharati chose folk themes for their tableaux.
While RU students drummed up nagadas, their Kolhan counterparts presented Manbhum Chhau. It was bihu from the Gauhati cradle of Assam and Rabindrasangeet from Bengal's Rabindra Bharati.
If Bidhan Chandra Krishi Vishvavidyalaya (Nadia, Bengal) took out a traditional palki procession, girls of Vidyasagar University (Midnapore, Bengal) upped the glam quotient with contemporary dances as did team BIT-Mesra (Ranchi).
"A perfect amalgamation of various forms of art was experienced by one and all today. The festival in coming days will surely have many more cultural treats for everyone of us," Ram said in his address.
Stressing on the need to host more youth festivals, he lauded RU for bagging the opportunity. "This exchange of ideas, thoughts, art and culture must not end. The government will try to organise such events in the future," he said.