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Jenu Kuruba Musicians Take Center Stage at Mahindra Percussion Festival

26 Apr 2024

ARPO facilitated the Jenu Kuruba tribe's participation in the Mahindra Percussion Festival. Team led by Ramesh J B, connected through our Earthlore projects, and Majeesh Karyaad (Lorekeeper's project) collaborated with Charu Hariharan, showcasing tribal music on a national stage.

A team of musicians from the Jenu Kuruba tribe, residing near the Kerala-Karnataka border, participated in the second edition of the Mahindra Percussion Festival held on March 23-24, 2024, at the Prestige Srihari Khoday Centre for Performing Arts in Bengaluru, Karnataka. ARPO played a pivotal role in connecting the tribal musicians with the Mahindra Percussion Festival.

Ramesh J.B., leader of the 'Girijana Samagra Abhivridhi Kalasamsthe' (a cultural organization dedicated to the Jenu Kuruba tribe's welfare) who participated in our Earthlore project, and Majeesh Karyaad, a folkloric musician and project coordinator for ARPO's Lorekeeper's project, were approached by renowned South Indian percussionist Charu Hariharan through ARPO to collaborate for a musical ensemble. Majeesh Karyaad leads Kozhikode Nanthalakoottam, a collective of folk singers from Calicut.

This collaboration with the Charu Hariharan's quartet, which was the opening performance of the festival, blended the rich percussion traditions of Karnataka and Kerala with the unique sounds of Jenu Kuruba music, giving the audience a taste of India's diverse percussion landscape.

Majeesh of Nandhalakootam and Kumara of JK tribe performing in the feat

The Mahindra Percussion Festival is an event dedicated to the exploration of rhythm in music. The festival features percussionist performances, combining various musical styles with a focus on percussion instruments.

As reported by The Hindu, Jay Shah, Head of Cultural Outreach for the Mahindra Group, explains the festival's mission: "to rediscover the Indian percussion soundscape and foster a long-lasting connection between audiences and their heritage and culture. It provides a platform for artists and art forms that often exist on the margins."

The Jenu Kurubas are one of the most marginalised tribal groups, and they are classified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) by the government. Previously ARPO has facilitated their performances and workshops at Kochi Biennale, Kozhikkode Archeological museum and Earthlore Music Festival.

"It gives us great happiness that we are able to get these young musicians such a big stage, within two years we started working with them," said Parvathi A R, Director of Projects and Outreach at ARPO.

Sunitha(right) and team performing at the festival

Udaya(middle) and team playing their percussion instruments in the fest

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