The Rejuvenation of Odisha’s Cultural Foundations: Pala, Ravana Chhaya and the Lakhmi Purana
Satya Mohanty and Lalu Mansinha
Pala is a valuable cultural tradition of Odisha, combining theatre, Odissi music, highly refined Odia and Sanskrit poetry, wit, humor, and social satire. Ravanna Chhaya (shadow puppetry) may well have originated in our part of the world millennia ago, and then spread through South and Southeast Asia. Both of these art forms may be facing extinction under the relentless pressures of modern entertainment media. In 2008, SEEDS (Sustainable Education and Economic Development Society) initiated a project to help sustain and enrich both the art forms. The project has several facets: (a) popularisation; (b) training; (c) scholarship; (d) publication; and a (e) plan for self-sustainability after a few years. There have been sponsored workshops, seminars and performances. The overall goal of the project is to work with Odisha-based groups, artistes, and scholars to strengthen what may be called the “cultural infrastructure” of Odia society, deepening the links between the villages and the urban areas and creating channels of communication about progressive, democratic social values and ideals.