Thanga- the symbol of Tribal music

Mrinal Kanti Sinha

He remains half-fed but his passion for art never dwindles. Financial constraints often appear as hurdle in his livelihood. He even did not have a shelter that could act as a blanket during winter as well as to withstand the scorching heat during summer. But, the man of art faces all odds with courage. When in trouble,  he  lessens his agony and anxiety with his flute or 'Rasem'. And that brought him the prestigious civilian award 'Padma Sri'.

Earlier, he received 'Sangeet Natak Academy' award from erstwhile President of India, Pranab Mukherjee.
The ninety nine years' old resident of Muruiunder Unakoti district , Tripura ,got Padmashri award for preserving and reviving traditional tribal  instrument through out his life.

The flute made of gourd shell and seven bamboo pipes made him famous across the globe. He represented India several times in Japan, Thailand as well in different parts of  India and got acclaim.

But , unfortunately, his honour and personality could not bring him  a life of prosperity. He even did not have a proper space to hang the award received from Pranab Mukherjee in 2014. Rather than being hung in the wall, it is kept in a box.

Thanga Darlong perhaps does not know the significance of the prestigious civilian award and is still humble.
He is not in a position to interact due to old age ailments but still he can play his flute with different tunes.
He said to an interlocutor that  he gets Rs 600 a month only as old age pension.

Expressing his grievance, he said that many others younger than him get Rs. 900 as old age pension but he gets less.
'Rosem', a traditional flute of tribals , specially for Darlong community, when played, the melody takes everyone to the earlier stages of indigenous forest–life centuries ago.

He learnt how to play Rosem from his father in law when he was 18.
History says, in ancient time seven brothers used to play seven pipes separately and they were very expert.
One day, a man known as ' Pakhat Pa' – father of Pakhat- challenged those brothers saying that he would make an instrument and using seven pipes he alone would play .Thus came Rosem.

Thanga said, though he tried to keep the tradition alive, his death will bring the end of 'Rosem'.
He wanted to teach some youths including his grandson, but since all live by a day to day income, they are not interested in playing this traditional flute. He said if government takes initiative,  he can teach youths even now.

The man who lives in an impoverished   house, has a big dream but financial crisis hinders the realisation of his dream.
He has honour , many awards  in his kitty , even now the prestigious  civilian award,  unfortunately he does not have a space in his house to keep the awards decorated.

He needs cash to sustain his life and each of us should come forward to rescue the great man from poverty.
He now sells   hand- made baskets and tribal ' Chem' to make both ends meet. His widowed daughter, with whom he lives, also sells vegetables.

The pathetic condition of such a great person gives really a slap to the intelligentsia of civilised society. Let's all stand by him.

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