Kolkata: Dhakis are traditional drummers who play the drum known as ‘dhak’ during Hindu festivals, particularly during the Durga Puja festivities in Bengal. The ‘dhaks’ form an integral part of the festivities and are usually in high demand when the festivals begin. Every year, the dhakis from different districts and villages of Bengal use to appear at Sealdah station premises before Durga puja. But this year, the situation is different due to the COVID19 pandemic. 

The dhakis used to play the drums in front of Sealdah station every year before puja. From there, various puja committees used to take them in the puja pandals to play the ‘dhak’. But this year, the many puja committees decided not to play ‘dhak’ in the puja due to the less budget. Therefore, the dhakis are in great problem. Given the Covid-19 situation and the lockdowns earlier, the dhakis are facing an uncertain future.

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However, this time around, the dhakis are under immense pressure and they do not know what holds for them when the festivals actually begin. While the COVID situation and the lockdowns have already affected their source of income, they say they have so far not been invited by puja committees this time.

Generally, four to five ‘dhakis’ (at times eight to ten) form a team to perform at Durga Puja pandals and get a remuneration of around Rs 20,000 to a maximum of Rs 30,000 for the four days of the festival. But with the budget for the community pujas tightly drawn up, there is a dip in the demand for dhakis which is leading to a slow death of the popular art.

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The dhakis are also facing difficulty in coming to Kolkata because the train services have not been resumed yet. The expense of traveling in a car is a lot. Therefore, most of the dhakis have not come to Kolkata this year. The dhakis are eagerly waiting for the next year’s Durga puja where they hope the situation will be normal.