Pālā of Odisha: A study of the Indigenous Ballard form with special reference to its song-texts

Dr. Bilambita Banisudha

Associate Professor

Department of Music vocal

School of Professional Studies

Sikkim University, Sikkim

Email: bbanisudha@cus.ac.in

Abstract

Pālā has attained a special position as an indigenous art of Odisha. A cultural folk ballad genre of Odisha that incorporates elements of Sanskrit and Odia literature is known as Pālā. It has achieved immense popularity for bringing progress to Odisha in the fields of religion, culture, literature, and social values. This research paper delves into the rich cultural heritage of Odisha, focusing on the Indigenous Ballard form that has been an integral part of the state’s cultural fabric. Ballads in Odisha have served as a dynamic medium for storytelling, preserving historical events, and expressing the socio-cultural ethos of the region. This study aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the Indigenous Ballard form, with a particular emphasis on its song texts. The research employs a multi-faceted approach, combining ethnographic methods, linguistic analysis, and literary criticism to unravel the layers of meaning embedded in the song text. The study also investigates the role of oral tradition in the transmission of these ballads across generations and its impact on language preservation. Furthermore, the research explores the intersection of the Indigenous Ballard form with broader issues such as identity, community dynamics, and cultural resilience.

Keywords: Indigenous Ballard, Odisha Folk Music, Cultural Heritage, Oral Tradition, Ethnomusicology, Regional Identity.

How to cite this paper:

Banisudha, Bilambita. 2024. “Pālā of Odisha: A study of the Indigenous Ballard form with special reference to its song-texts.” Sangeet Galaxy 13(1): 97-109. www.sangeetgalaxy.co.in

Introduction:

The Pālā is a traditional form of storytelling in Odisha that is deeply rooted in the state’s culture and history. It typically involves the recitation of epic stories, myths, and folk tales accompanied by music and rhythmic movements. The Pālā performances are often held in village squares and community gatherings, where the storytellers, known as “pālia-s,” captivate the audience with their mesmerizing narratives. (Kuanr, 2019) The tradition of Pālā has been transmitted throughout many generations and has undergone a process of development, resulting in a distinctive artistic expression that highlights the extensive cultural legacy of Odisha. The stories told during Pālā sessions often revolve around the state’s historical heroes, local folklore, and religious epics, providing a means for preserving and transmitting cultural knowledge and values. Pālā tradition in Odisha acts as an influential avenue for cultural conservation and community involvement, enabling the audience to establish a connection with their origins and acquire a more profound comprehension of their legacy. (Dutta, 2017). The Pālā, a traditional performance art form in Odisha, holds immense cultural significance in the region. Stories concerning historical heroes, local folklore, and religious epics contribute to Odisha’s cultural heritage through the Pālā. These narratives not only provide fascination to the viewers but also function as a medium for conveying ethical principles, historical facts, and religious doctrines. The Pālā performances often depict the heroic deeds of historical figures from Odisha, such as kings, warriors, and freedom fighters. (Patra, 2017) These heroes are praised for their courage, selflessness, and guidance, rendering them influential individuals in the nearby community. In addition, the Pālā performances incorporate narratives from indigenous folklore, which are firmly grounded in the customs and convictions of Odisha. (Kuanr, 2019) These folktales frequently center on supernatural entities, mythological beings, and legendary occurrences, highlighting the abundant cultural legacy of the area and safeguarding ancient beliefs and traditions. Religious epics have a notable impact on the Pālā performances.   (Rawal, 2021) The Mahabharat and the Ramayana, as well as Odia religious texts like the Jagannatha Upakhyana, have a special place in Pala. The chronicling of these narratives in the Pālā structure not only amuses the spectators but also strengthens religious convictions and principles. The Pālā performances offer an engaging and captivating experience for the audience by including music, dancing, acting, and intricate costumes. This traditional art form has been propagating between generations and is a treasured component of Odisha’s cultural heritage. The practice of storytelling, using the Pālā, serves to safeguard and advance Odisha’s abundant cultural legacy. (Dash, 2011)

Purpose And Scope of The Study:

A study of Pālā’s cultural significance in Odisha analyzed the historical, social, and cultural attributes of the Indigenous Ballard form and its significance within local communities. An analysis of song lyrics in Pālā is conducted to examine their grammatical, literary, and thematic attributes. This can unveil the narrative patterns, linguistic complexities, and cultural manifestations of the songs. Researchers are intrigued by the role of Pālā in facilitating the establishment and conservation of cultural identity among indigenous Odisha groups. This involves examining how Pālā themes, narratives, and messages promote a sense of collective identity. This involves developing educational materials, workshops, or activities to introduce Pālā to students, and scholars. Another potential is the promotion and revival of Pālā which involves suggesting strategies to conserve and advance the art form, guarantee its implementation, and foster community involvement. The initiative aims to facilitate researchers in comprehending, conserving, and advocating for Odisha’s Indigenous Ballard form, with a specific emphasis on its song texts, and also to enhance the academic comprehension, conservation, and advocacy of the Indigenous Ballard tradition from Odisha, with a specific emphasis on its lyrical content.

The Research Questions:

How has the Indigenous Ballard form of Odisha evolved, and what are the key historical and cultural influences on its development? What role does the Indigenous Ballard play in the cultural and social life of the Odisha community, and how is it perceived by different generations within the community? What are the distinctive features of the song texts in the Indigenous Ballard form, and how do they reflect the unique cultural and linguistic characteristics of the region? The influence of globalization and modernity on the preservation and transmission of the Indigenous Ballard form in Odisha, as well as the steps adopted to protect its authenticity, will be examined. How does the Indigenous Ballard form act as a vehicle of cultural expression and identification for the Odisha people, and how has this role changed over time?

Hypotheses:

The development of the Indigenous Ballard genre in Odisha is defined by an intricate interaction of historical events, cultural practices, and external influences that have contributed to its unique qualities. The Indigenous Ballard is a very important cultural artifact in Odisha, playing a vital role in the preservation and transmission of cultural values from one generation to another. The song lyrics of the Indigenous Ballard genre showcase distinctive language characteristics specific to the Odisha area, exemplifying the linguistic diversity and cultural abundance of the local community. Globalization and modernization have posed challenges to the preservation of the Indigenous Ballard form, leading to efforts within the community to adapt and safeguard its authenticity through various cultural initiatives. The Indigenous Ballard form functions as a dynamic expression of cultural identity for the Odisha community, adapting to contemporary contexts while retaining its traditional roots.

Literature Review:

The purpose of this literature review is to examine the existing research on Pālā and related forms of storytelling and music in Odisha. The literature review will focus on identifying relevant sources that discuss the history, cultural significance, traditional practices, and musical elements of Pālā in Odisha. The historical context of Odisha reveals a rich cultural and religious legacy of sacred songs and music. In the region of Odisha, sacred songs are deeply ingrained in diverse religious practices and traditions. These song texts represent centuries of varied influences and indigenous practices, influenced by the Maurya-s, Satavahana-s, and Gupta-s who supported and patronized the arts, literature, and music in the area. Analyse previous studies, identifying gaps or areas that your research intends to address.

Methodology:

The research project aims to study the Indigenous Ballard form of Odisha, specifically focusing on its song texts. To achieve this goal, the following methodology was implemented. A comprehensive review of existing literature on the Indigenous Ballard form of Odisha was conducted. This included examining research papers, books, and articles related to the topic. The literature review provided a foundation of knowledge and helped identify gaps in the current understanding of the Indigenous Ballard form. The research involved on-site visits to the Indigenous communities in Odisha where the Ballard form is practiced throughout these travels, interviews were carried out with community members, especially those who possess experience in the Indigenous Ballard form. This facilitated a more profound comprehension of the cultural, historical, and spiritual importance of the Indigenous Ballard form and its song lyrics. The song texts of the Indigenous Ballard form were collected and analyzed. This analysis included examining the lyrical content, poetic structure, linguistic features, and thematic elements of the song texts. The interpretation of the song texts was done in collaboration with experts in Odia language and literature.

Historical And Cultural Context:

Pālā is a magnificent version of a traditional theatre specific to the state of Odisha. This art style is syncretic, including elements of dance, theatre, music, and oratory. It is also perceived as a convergence of Hindu and Muslim beliefs, as well as an amalgamation of different Hindu factions. Odia Pālā is the embodiment of the actualized Odia lifestyle, resulting from the fusion of Aryan and Dravidian civilizations. Similar to the Odia god Jagannath, the recipe Dalma, Pālā also represents a syncretic art form, embodying the fusion of several religions and cultures (Patra, 2017) The genesis of Pālā may be traced back to the union between Hindus and Muslims. Pālā is regarded as a syncretic type of devotion centred upon a god known as Satya-pir. Furthermore, it is widely accepted that Pālā is considered to be a manifestation of Din-i-Illahi, a religious belief system introduced by Akbar that incorporates the virtues of other religions.  (Seth, 2016)

Pālā performances have played a crucial role in disseminating and promoting religious narratives, especially those derived from the Mahabharata, as seen in Sarala Das’ rendition of the Mahabharata.  (Kuanr, 2019) The convergence of Oriya and Bengali cultures during Chaitanya’s journey to Odisha in 1510 likely played a role in the emergence and widespread acceptance of Pālā as an artistic expression in the area. (Dutta, 2017).. The Pālā tradition has its origins in the theological and mythological narratives of Hinduism, including the legends of Lord Krishna and Radha. The stories are portrayed in a stylized design, including dramatic gestures, attitudes, and movements to vividly engage the audience. (Rawal, 2021) . The amalgamation of music, text, and performance generates a multidimensional encounter that captivates the audience’s brain and emotions. These performances function as a conduit for transmitting religious and philosophical ideas to the general public.

Socio-Cultural Significance of Pālā in Odisha:

The Pālā, a traditional performance art form in Odisha, holds immense cultural significance in the region. Stories concerning historical heroes, local folklore, and religious epics contribute to Odisha’s cultural heritage through the Pālā. These stories not only entertain the audience but also serve as a means of transmitting moral values, historical knowledge, and religious teachings. The Pālāperformances often depict the heroic deeds of historical figures from Odisha, such as kings, warriors, and freedom fighters. (Patra, 2017). These heroes are admired for their courage, selflessness, and guidance, rendering them important figures for the nearby community. In addition, the Pālā performances incorporate narratives derived from indigenous folklore, which are firmly grounded in the customs and convictions of Odisha. (Rawal, 2021). These folktales frequently center on otherworldly entities, mythological beings, and legendary occurrences, highlighting the abundant cultural legacy of the area and safeguarding ancient beliefs and traditions. Religious epics have a tremendous impact on the Pālā performances. (Kuanr, 2019)These performances vividly portray the narratives from Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, as well as holy writings from Odia culture like the Jagannatha Upakhyana. The recounting of these narratives in the Pālā structure not only amuses the spectators but also strengthens religious convictions and principles. The Pālā performances offer an engaging and captivating experience for the audience by including music, dancing, acting, and intricate costumes. This traditional art form has been transmitted over generations and is a treasured aspect of Odisha’s cultural heritage. The practice of storytelling, using the Pālā, serves to safeguard and advance Odisha’s abundant cultural legacy. (Patra, 2017)

Pālā music, an indigenous genre of musical narration in Odisha, functions as a repository of cultural heritage by safeguarding historical occurrences and offering a sometimes imprecise chronicle of the local area. The Pālā performances provide a substantial contribution to Odisha’s cultural history by showcasing narratives of historical figures, local legends, and religious epics. (Dash, 2011)

Performance of Pala:

Pālā is a magnificent form of traditional theatre that originates from the state of Odisha. It combines elements of dance, theatre, music, and oratory to create a unique and vibrant art form. (Muni, 2022) Pālā’s integration of creative disciplines enables the exhibition of Odisha’s abundant cultural legacy and incorporation of many narrative traditions. Throughout history, sacred and profane rituals have often involved one or more types of performance, such as theatre, dance, and music.

Pālā, an indigenous art style originating from Odisha, India, showcases the amalgamation of several art forms and ceremonial presentations. The incorporation of music, dance, and acting in Pālā facilitates a multifaceted narrative encounter. (Kuanr, 2019) This syncretic nature of Pālā reflects the dynamic and interactive relationships between different art forms, similar to how ritual performances encompass spirituality, pleasure, and aesthetics. The integration of various elements in Pālā reflects the dynamic and interactive relationships between different art forms, similar to how ritual performances encompass spirituality, pleasure, and aesthetics. (Patra, 2017)This syncretic nature of Pālā allows for a rich and diverse experience for both the performers and the audience. The integration of various elements in Pālā reflects the dynamic and interactive relationships between different art forms, similar to how ritual performances encompass spirituality, pleasure, and aesthetics. (Kuanr, 2019). The syncretic aspect of Pālā enables a dynamic and immersive experience in which several art genres converge to generate a coherent story. The Pālās artists employ a fusion of song, dance, and acting to portray mythical narratives, historical occurrences, and societal concerns. Pālā Gāyak, a vocalist, derives inspiration from a wide array of literary sources, encompassing Sanskrit, Odia, Bengali, Hindi, Telegu, English, and other languages. The Pālā performers skillfully establish a connection between culinary and astronomical parallels to provide a hilarious and complex representation of their stories. Concurrently, they communicate their narrative through the utilisation of dramatisation, music, and stylized dance. (Satpathy, 2016)

Pālā music, an indigenous kind of musical narration originating from the Indian state of Odiśā, has been intricately linked to the veneration and enactment of several god cults. These deity cults, such as the Gouna, Vaishnava, Roudra, Shakta, and Soura cults, have their distinct traditions and practices within the realm of Pālā music. The Gouna cult, dedicated to the worship of Ganesh, often incorporates songs and music that celebrate the wisdom and auspiciousness associated with the Lord of Beginnings. (Folk Dance of Odisha – IndiaNetzone.com. )

The Vaishnava cult, centered around the worship of Narayana or Vishnu, embraces the devotional songs that depict the divine Leela-s and stories of Lord Krishna, a manifestation of Vishnu. The Roudra cult, rooted in the worship of Rudra, reveres the fierce and transformative aspects of the deity through powerful and intense musical expressions. The Shakta cult, devoted to the worship of Shakti or Ambika, emphasizes the divine feminine energy and portrays goddesses such as Durga and Kali through their music and performances. (Beck, 2021)

In the context of deity cults in Pālā, each cult has its dedicated group of worshippers who engage in specific rituals and practices to express devotion and seek blessings from their chosen deity. These rituals may include singing sacred songs and hymns that are specific to their deity cult, accompanied by traditional instruments like the harmonium, mridanga, and kartāl. (Folk Dance of Odisha-IndiaNetzone.com).

The Pālā manifested as a series of events, in which a Gāyak would provide a puzzle to challenge the subsequent vocalist. Successfully solving it would demonstrate the intellectual ability of the next Gāyak, who, upon completing their turn, would pose another puzzle for their opponent. The competition of Pālā lasted for many days, with the winner being rewarded by the sponsor. (Beck, 2021)

Baithaki (sitting) and

Thiā is their name (standing).

Pālā Competitions and Performers Documentation is a comprehensive record of the tradition, history, and participants of these cultural events. This resource is highly important for academics, scholars, and enthusiasts who are interested in comprehending the development and importance of Pālā contests and the skilled participants participating.  (Patra, 2017) The documentation provides insights into the various aspects and elements of Pālā competitions, including the use of instruments such as harmonium, mridanga, and kartāl, the incorporation of storytelling, music, dance, and acting in performances, the portrayal of mythological stories, historical events, and social issues, and the cultural traditions and values embedded in Pālā music. Additionally, the documentation explores the training and skills required to become a Pālā performer, including proficiency in Sanskrit and Odiya literature.

This material also emphasises the significance of Pālā performers, also referred to as Palia, and their proficiency in Sanskrit and Odiya literature. They serve as the guardians of this time-honored artistic tradition, safeguarding its abundant cultural legacy and transmitting it to succeeding cohorts. They demonstrate their expertise in singing, storytelling, and theatrical abilities via their performances, capturing listeners with their resonant vocals and expressive gestures. (Dash, 2011) Through this documentation, the unique nuances and techniques employed by Pālā performers are explored, shedding light on the intricate balance between the main singer Gāyak, the drummer Bayaka, and the chorus members in creating harmonious and captivating music. (Patra, 2017)

In his left hand, the Gāyak carries a ‘Chamara’ (fly whisker), which he uses with aplomb, and a set of cymbals. Explanations are incorporated throughout his narration of Puranic stories. Dancers in the chorus join Gāyak in moving their bodies with rhythmic steps in an extremely limited space. Its important role in inculcating idealism in human character originated from the mixed worship of the Hindu deity – Satya Narayan and the Muslim deity – Peera. “Pālā” entertains the human mind with thought and conscience as well as establishing communal harmony.

Pālā is an outstanding kind of traditional theatre specific to the state of Odisha. This art style is syncretic, including elements of dance, theatre, music, and oratory. It is also perceived as a convergence of Hindu and Muslim beliefs, as well as an integration of many Hindu sects. The name Pālā in Assam, Bengal, and Odisha refers to a musical folk theatre. Conflicts have arisen over the classification of Odia Pālā as either a folk or classical art form. Furthermore, there is a debate on the roots of this phenomenon, namely whether it is exclusively derived from Hindu culture or if it is a combination of Hindu and Islamic elements. Furthermore, there is disagreement on whether Odia Pālā is primarily a religious performance or if it can be considered a secular kind of theatre. Odia Pālā is the embodiment of the Odia way of life, which is a fusion of the Aryan and Dravidian civilizations. Similar to the Odia god Jagannath, the Odia recipe Dalma, Pālā is a syncretic form of art that combines several beliefs and customs.

Pālā is an exceptional form of traditional theatre that is specific to the state of Odisha. It is a syncretic art style that combines elements of dance, theatre, music, and oratory. Pālā showcases a unique convergence of Hindu and Muslim beliefs, as well as an integration of many Hindu sects. The origins of Odia Pālā have been a subject of debate, with some claiming it to be rooted solely in Hindu culture and others arguing (Satpathy, 2016) that it is a fusion of Hindu and Islamic influences. Moreover, there is a dispute on whether Odia Pālā is mostly a religious spectacle or if it may be regarded as a secular manifestation of theatre. Nevertheless, the true nature of Odia Pālā rests in its capacity to surpass categorizations and designations. It represents the extensive cultural legacy of Odisha, displaying the variety and harmony among its inhabitants. (Rawal, 2021) Odia Pālā is a cultural expression that commemorates the diversity and inclusiveness of India. Pālā music, an attractive art form, is accompanied by traditional musical instruments such as the harmonium, mridanga, and kartāl. Odisha’s numerous religious rituals and traditions form the foundation of its music, with the utilisation of certain ragas and talas to establish the desired atmosphere and structure.

Pālā = Pathya + Lasya

Pathya pertains only to written works, but Lasya embraces many forms of performing arts such as dance, drama, and music. Pālā is given this moniker due to its incorporation of all these elements. Pālā Gāyak, a vocalist, derives inspiration from a wide array of literary sources encompassing Sanskrit, Odia, Bengali, Hindi, Telegu, English, and other languages. Satyanārāyañ, also known as Satya-pir, is the primary god worshipped in the region of Pālā. Satyanārāyañ is a Hindu god described in the Skandha Purāna, specifically in the Reva Khaṇda, spanning four chapters of Shola Pālā. The composition’s language was a fusion of Odia, Bengali, and Parsi, much like the composite god. (Patra, 2017)

Some instances are:

Ami sehi devata alekha nirakara

Swarga martya rasatale karani amara

Jagannath rupe ami Odisha re aar

Hindu Musalman sabu kari ekakar…

Dariyate darubrahma rupeta bhasena

Padma fula rupa haia Satyanarayana (Patra, 2017)

(My Translation)

I am an indescribable and formless divinity, residing in Swarga, Martya, and Rasatala. I am present in Odisha as the deity Jagannath, symbolising the convergence of Hindu and Muslim faiths. I am also known as Satyanarayana, represented by a lotus, and I am said to have emerged from the ocean as a sacred log.

Kabikarna’s Pālā-s were imbued with the belief in the equal status of both religions. Jagannath functioned as a steadfast emblem for the amalgamation of many religious ideologies in the region of Odisha. Prabhat Mukherjee (1981) asserts that religious ideologies that attained popularity in Orissa at a certain period in history wielded significant influence in the temple regions of Jagannath. Despite a decline in the movement’s popularity, it nonetheless had a discernible impact on the temple grounds. It is hardly unexpected that Satya-pir has often been compared to Jagannath. (Foundation, 2017)

Another verse from the SholaPālā reads as follows:

 Alekher mahimā ke bolte pari,

Turk take Khoda kole, Hindu bole Hari. (Patra, 2017)

Pālā embodies the convergence of literary and theatrical traditions. In addition, although Satyanārāyañ worship is solely a religious ritual centred on venerating the deity, Pālā examines and scrutinises other gods and goddesses. Moreover, the narrative of Pālā goes beyond religious myths and largely centres on the wider realm of human existence. He asserts that Pālā and Satyanārāyañ worship are separate and independent traditions. He considers Pālā to be a unique art form of Odia origin that prominently featured the worship of Satyanārāyañ as its primary deity. The Thia Pālā, a traditional performance art, is often executed in Odisha by a group of five to six performers. When two Pālā teams participate in a battle of intelligence, it is referred to as Badi Pālā (Competing Pālā). Additionally, there exists a variation known as Baithaki Pālā (Sitting Pālā), which involves the recitation of the Odia version of SholaPālā, a religious text that celebrates the greatness of Lord Satya-pir. This recitation is sometimes accompanied by the use of cymbals and mridangam. There is no exaggeration or theatricality present in this situation. Remarkably, Satya-pir has often been compared to Jagannath. (Foundation, 2017)

In ―Thia Pālā (called simply ―Pālā), we see an astounding synthesis of singing, dancing, acting, chanting, oratory, and literature.

The performers are:

The Gāyak, who fulfills the role of the primary vocalist, is supported by the Sutradhar, while the Bādak performs on the Mridangam. Furthermore, four Palia-s participate by actively participating in singing performances, dancing, and playing the brass cymbal. The Palias consist of various members who have distinct roles: the Sripalia, who assumes the leadership of the chanting group; the Vidushaka, who serves as the clown; the Palia with the most melodious voice for singing and reciting lyrics; the dancing Palia, responsible for leading duet or group dances; and the Palia specialising in performing feminine roles. (Foundation, 2017) . The Pālā ceremony begins with the Palia-s reciting, accompanied by the Mridangam and cymbals. Subsequently, the Gāyak enters ceremonially and pays homage to the deities and the audience, conveying sincere wishes for their well-being. (Patra, 2017)

In Pālā, this is referred to as Mangalacharana, consisting of two distinct components. In the Namaskaratmaka Mangalacharana, the singer shows respect to the audience, the organisers, the deities, and all those involved in the event by reciting a series of poems in a detailed manner. Following that, in the Asirvadatmaka Mangalacharana, the vocalists articulate their aspiration for their well-being in a similar manner. Following an hour of initial preparations, Gāyak proceeds to explore the primary storyline, which may have been pre-planned by him or proposed by the audience members. During the storytelling of a narrative, like Satyabadi Harischandra, the Gāyak assumes the role of Harischandra, while the Palias depict the supporting characters. (Patra, 2017) There is a continuous occurrence of role transitions and reversals. The acting is also disrupted by the explication of particular poems, songs, and dances. The acting style in Pālā relies heavily on gestures. Gestures possess symbolic significance. Pālā, a kind of theatre that combines elements of classical and folk traditions, deviates from the rigid norms of classical theatre in its use of gestures. However, it still maintains a clear connection to its classical roots. For instance, to represent a river, the Gāyak might use both of his palms in a manner that imitates the motion of waves. (Foundation, 2017).

The Gāyak assumes the role of the troupe’s leader, the primary performer, and the one responsible for directing. In addition, he possesses exceptional skills in both dancing and singing. The Gāyak is also a diligent researcher. His brain has a vast collection of verses from several Purānas, Upanishads, Alankār, Shastra-s, literature, and even cinema tunes. He assumes the role of leading the choir in singing and possesses a talent for improvising poetry. He possesses a serious and remarkably enduring demeanor. Vidushaka is a recalcitrant pupil, a wayward offspring, who derives pleasure from indulging in worldly pleasures with a disregard for moral principles. He has faith in what he perceives visually. The Odia proverb encapsulates the qualities of an exemplary disciple:

Jāhā na dekhiba beni nayane

Parate na jiba guru bachane (Patra, 2017)

What your senses have failed to perceive

It is not advisable to place faith in Guru’s testimony. (Translation)

The Gāyak and the Vidushaka are mutually complimentary. Through the misinterpretation of passages, posing unintelligent inquiries, imitating individuals and their behaviors, and making references to present-day circumstances, he not only fails to discourage but rather forces the Gāyak to delve into intricate matters. He regards gods and legendary people with the same level of familiarity as ordinary individuals seen on the street. Throughout a century, there have been several modifications in the execution of Pālā. In the 20th century, Pālā vocalists used to embellish themselves with majestic attire, such as royal Pagadis, jewelry, and a tika on their foreheads. This attire also has a feminine quality. When asked about the purpose of their clothing, Jagannath Behera (2014) clarified that Pālā singers want to achieve unity with Krishna, who has the power to change all individuals into women.

In contemporary times, Pālā singers chose traditional garments like dhoti and kurta, as opposed to the elaborate outfits that were worn during the period of the abolished monarchy. In the past, the Pālā singers only portrayed mythological stories, but now they also include real and partially mythical occurrences. Pālā has undergone a substantial overhaul in its underlying architecture. According to Prasant Nath Sharma (2014), Pālā had theatrical qualities throughout the period from 1960 to 1980. Since the 1980s, it has exhibited a growing resemblance to Prabachana (preaching). Formerly, Pālā functioned as one of the only sources of entertainment for the rural populace. In the intellectual discourse of Pālā, humor is presently considered superfluous and irrelevant. Given its amalgamation of several traditions, categorising Pālā into a specific genre such as music theatre or literature proves challenging. Dhiren Dash (1986) appealed for the recognition of Pālā singers by both the Sahitya Academy and Sangeet Nataka Academy. Jagannath Behera is now the sole recipient of the Kendra Sahitya Academy Award for his notable contributions to the world of art. The labor and artistry of the practitioners of this old craft must be acknowledged and appreciated.

Challenges And Preservation Efforts:

Despite the prevalence of digital innovation and modern art practices, the traditional indigenous art of India is confronting the perilous risk of being extinct. Indian Ballards are imbued with a significant cultural heritage and hold immense historical significance in the nation’s past. However, due to many conditions, this invaluable artistic expression is gradually disappearing, and it is essential to shed light on the causes behind this decline.

Indian indigenous art has a long and prestigious history that stretches across many periods. India’s art forms provide a vibrant reflection of its rich cultural past, with unique styles and techniques specific to each area. The insufficient implementation of preservation measures is a key factor contributing to the demise of traditional indigenous art forms. The practice of many traditional art forms was confined to certain groups or lineages, resulting in a dearth of proficient artists. Due to inadequate backing and acknowledgment, many artistic expressions have significant challenges in maintaining their existence in contemporary society.

The rise of global interconnectedness poses a significant challenge to traditional art, as it faces tough competition from new and globalised creative expressions. The waning popularity of conventional Indian painting can be ascribed to the changing preferences of the younger cohort and the growing significance of digital art. The widespread production of low-cost replicas through mass manufacturing diminishes the value and distinctiveness of authentic traditional artwork.

Another pivotal element that contributes to the decline of traditional Indian art is the restricted exposure and knowledge among the general public. The absence of educational activities, concerts, and performances dedicated to traditional art impedes its dissemination. Lacking enough platforms for concerts and the ability to motivate future generations, traditional artists encounter difficulties in obtaining acknowledgment and assistance. Many talented Pālā singers from this sacred region have greatly contributed to the society and culture of Utkal via their religious practice of singing Pālā. Some notable singers include Gayak Ratna Harinath, Gayak Samrat Baishnab Charan Pradhan, Gayak Siromani Niranjan Kar, Gayak Sekhar Jagannath Behera, Paramananda Saran, Nari Nath, Ranka Das, Kshetrabasi Das, Niranjan Panda, Agadhu Bhanja, Mani Nath, Duryodhan Panda, Binod Barik, Keshab Kar, Banamali Rath, Krupasindhu Sarangi, Bhabagrahi Sarangi, Damodar Sarangi, Bishwanath Pattajoshi, Markandeswar Bahinipati, Arjuna Das, Dhruba Charan Sarangi, Anirudha Panigrahi, Dharmananda Dixit, Padan Nath, Narayan Mohanty, Dhaneswar Satapathy, Suryamani Behera, Sridhar Debata, Chandrasekhar Dakhinary, Kulamani Satapathy, Krushna Chandra Sahu, Laxmidhar Rout, Kashinath Das, Rajanikanta Prusty, Gayak Sudhakar Nanda Das, and Gayak Tilaka Bipra Charan Das. Through their enchanting incantations, they have expanded the influence of Pālā throughout Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa, while simultaneously enhancing the socio-cultural aspects of Utkal.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the study of the Pālā of Odisha, focusing on its indigenous ballad form and song texts, reveals a rich tapestry of cultural, historical, and artistic significance. Through a multifaceted exploration of this traditional narrative singing style, several key observations and conclusions emerge. The Pālā is a symbol of the cultural tenacity of the people of Odisha. The community’s cultural legacy is underscored by the deep roots of its history and the ongoing practice of its traditions. The song texts, woven with tales of local heroes, myths, and rituals, serve as a vibrant expression of the community’s identity. The musical elements of the Pālā, including its unique melodic structures and accompaniments, contribute to the artistic diversity of Odisha’s traditional music landscape. The interplay of traditional instruments, such as the harmonium and tabla, adds a distinctive flavor to the performances, making the Pālā a captivating auditory experience. While the Pālā tradition has endured the test of time, it faces challenges in the wake of modernization and globalization. The influence of contemporary music and entertainment trends poses a threat to the preservation of this indigenous ballad form. Efforts must be made to strike a balance between preserving the authenticity of the Pālā and adapting to the changing cultural landscape. The song texts of the Pālā showcase a remarkable blend of linguistic artistry and storytelling craftsmanship. The narratives, often rooted in local folklore and historical events, provide a unique window into the cultural ethos of Odisha. The poetic elements contribute to the oral tradition, serving as repositories of local wisdom and knowledge. The active involvement of the community in the continuation of the Pālā tradition is crucial. The oral transmission of these ballads from generation to generation ensures the living legacy of this art form. Engagement in community activities, educational programmes, and documentation efforts are crucial for transmitting the information and skills related to the Pālā. This study proposes potential directions for future research, such as conducting detailed examinations of certain Pālā genres, investigating regional disparities, and documenting song texts that are uncommon or at risk of disappearing. To ensure the preservation of the Pālā for future generations, it is imperative to implement conservation measures such as creating archives, developing educational programmes, and engaging in joint initiatives with local communities. The Pālā of Odisha is not just a traditional musical practice, but also a tangible representation of the cultural story of the region. The survival and prosperous future of the Pālā depend on those who acknowledge its worth and actively engage in its conservation, guaranteeing that the evocative melodies and compelling stories of the Pālā continue to reverberate across the cultural terrain of Odisha.