TN: Tribal Association Welcomes ban on Derogatory Kuravan-Kurathi Dance
Photo: A village temple dance performance. Image Courtesy: YouTube
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Tribal Association (TNTA) has welcomed the ban on the Kuravan-Kurathi Attam, a dance form portraying the people of the denotified Kuravan tribe in a derogatory manner.
“It is very gratifying that this ban has put an end to the obscene dance form. We praise the Tamil Nadu government and Madras high court for banning it,” said Shanmugam Perumal, general secretary of TNTA, in his statement.
The government's Tourism, Culture and Religious Endowments Department removed the dance from the list of 100 recognised folk art forms by the state folk artists (naattupura kalignargal) welfare board. Notably, no artist was registered under this category.
The government order (G.O.) was issued on March 10 based on the January 11 verdict of the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court.
Notably, the Kuravar tribal people are not involved in the performances, but it is named after them, typecasting them as representing obscenity.
The Madras High Court said that Kuravan-Kurathi Aattam was initially related to social problems and politics, but the performances began incorporating obscene dances.
The bench further observed that the dance ultimately led to the persons belonging to the community being disrespected and ostracised.
In various parts of Tamil Nadu, the Kuravan-Kurathi dance was performed in temple festivals throughout the night. The dance was widely performed as a subsidiary of Karakattam, a folk dance performed with a decorated pot on the head.
Karakattam has been dismissed as a corrupted, non-traditional and low-class art form. It has been reduced to a night glamour art, with young girls in skimpy clothing preferred as the performers. The audience is predominantly drunkards who come only to ogle and tease them.
The ban has received a certain amount of criticism on social media, with some claiming that it is an attack on Tamil culture.
There is a mention of the dance in the classic Tamil poem Thirutrala Kuravanji composed by Thirigudarasapa Kavirayar around 1600 - 1700 CE.
The Tamil god Murugan is portrayed as turning into a Kuravan (male member of the Kuravan tribe) to marry Valli, and they perform a dance mentioned as Kuravan-Kurathi Attam.
Given that obscenity is not the concern but the name associated with the dance, there was a proposal to give an alternate name to it.
IMPLEMENTATION OF BAN
The G.O. banning the dance said that action will be taken against the organisers if the Kuravan-Kurathi dance is performed as part of cultural programmes.
For wider consumption of the Kuravan-Kurathi dance, the temple performances have been video recorded and uploaded on YouTube.
The Tamil Nadu Kuravan People's Association, affiliated with the TNTA, has demanded the state file cases under the Prevention of Atrocities Act and punish those who uploaded videos and earned money from them.
The petition filed before the Madras High Court urged for effective steps to be taken to purge obscene "Kuruvan-Kurathi" dance videos from the internet and ensure no broadcasting of such videos by any television channel operator.
The Kuravan, Mountain Kuravan and Koravan Federation appealed to higher officials of the state department of culture to ensure there would be no conflict between the Kuravan ethnic people and event organisers from other communities while implementing the G.O.
The Kuravar is an ethnic Tamil community native to the Kurinji mountain region of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The Tamil Nadu Kuravan People's Association has also demanded the Kuravan tribe to be included in the Scheduled Tribes list.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.