Parab 2010

Corey writes:

The big event in Koraput this week was Parab, a state-level tribal festival held annually since 1996. Parab officially started before Christmas with smaller festivals being held throughout the district, culminating in a big three-day event in Koraput town this week. The celebrations include dance, music, art & craft competitions, and the winners from the smaller festivals get to perform at the main event. Parab 2009 was in November so we just missed it last year. We've been hearing about it from our friends so we were really looking forward to it this year. Parab takes place at the stadium near our house, so we could hear and see the preparations going on for the past two weeks.

We skipped the first night of Parab since we heard that it would be mostly politicians speaking. We could hear the speeches from our house, but we could also hear a good amount of music, so we know we missed some neat things. Whatever happened, the music continued up until dawn the next day. This left us really excited to go the next night.

We met Kevin and his "wife" Rhea (who is living here for the next three months) at our house and then headed over around 7pm. By this point we could see about 130 cars parked in the lot next to Parab. We joined the crowd streaming in through the gate.

Inside we found the equivalent of a county fair in the US but without the livestock or rides. (But WITH fried mini-doughnuts! They're known as Mathura cakes here.) There were lots of stalls from many of the local businesses and NGOs, and many many stalls selling all sorts of things.

The National Aluminum Company booth

You could buy just about anything made of terra cotta

The weavers we visited in Kotpad were there also.

Once we were done touring the stalls we all headed over to the big stage, where we could already hear some lively music and see some flashing lights. There we saw some excellent Odissi dance (the state dance style) and heard some excellent music. All the while trying to ignore the slightly creepy heads of the tribal couple above the stage.

Seeing a festival like Parab really makes me appreciate the fact that the people of Koraput district have such a unique and strong cultural identity. They are taking steps to preserve and grow this culture among the increasing westernization of India. This is something that I wish I had. There's no signature Ohio dance, song, food, or language that I can point to. As an American, I do feel some cultural identity. But on the other hand, we're the ones creating a lot of the Western culture that Koraput is struggling against.