Udayavni Special

Padma Shri Manjamma Jogati highlights plight of folk artistes, mangalamukhis amid Covid times


Team Udayavani, Apr 29, 2021, 4:00 PM IST

India is currently fighting the second wave of coronavirus with more than 30 lakh COVID active cases in the country, making it one of the worst-hit countries in the world.

The death of their loved ones and the lockdown imposed by several states to contain the spread of the virus has impacted lives and livelihoods of several people.

Artists from the trans community, which is otherwise too discriminated in the country have had to face a tough time as unlike the mainstream artists who have the privilege to release their work on OTTs, these folk artists cannot afford the same.

Even before the pandemic, these artists were struggling to keep their art forms alive and now with the COVID-19, the world has come to a standstill. While some of them did survive somehow, the question of what happened to these artists, especially in the daunting crisis that everyone is facing now, still lingers.

Manjamma Jogati, Padma Shri winner and Trans Gender folk artist talks about the problems faced by the community and affects of Coronavirus on folk artists. Manjamma has been working hard to keep the art forms, especially the Jogati Nritya and Janapada songs practised in rural Karnataka, Maharashtra and parts of Andhra Pradesh alive.

“Few trans people have tried selling vegetables, rearing sheep after taking loans from banks, since the first lockdown,” further talking about the plight of the community, she added, “We can’t even perform anywhere. The life of artists and trans people has become very difficult.”

Manjamma further sought the government to provide help for the community and consider their plights.

Most artists today have resorted to conducting online events. Manjamma’s take on it – “It becomes very difficult to know how many people are genuinely watching the performance. Unable to perform nor left with job opportunities, few members resorted to begging.”

Najimma Jogati, another folk artist speaking about the difficulties they face for food and shelter, “I currently live along with Manjamma Jogati but when the pandemic hit, it was very tough as we were struggling for food and shelter.”

Ramavva Jogati shows her disappointment in the people’s representatives who did nothing to help the struggling community in the global crisis. She asserts, “Government deposits money in the accounts of farmers and daily labourers and even the women get monetary support from the government,”

Highlighting the discrimination faced by the community, Ramavva says, “Government has done nothing till now to help us. Our life from the beginning is full of woes and difficulties. Now when I go begging to people’s homes, they ask me to stay away as I go places.”

“Our community faces stigma even today but now with the pandemic, we can’t even go begging as there is a fear of contracting the virus but also that people push us away,” says Ramavva.

 

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