Anyone who does something or anything to preserve an age-old art form needs to be applauded, felicitated and funded!
That’s what we felt when we read about this over 90 years old Parsi theater – Drona Natya Mandali in Dankaur in Greater Noida. Though the name sounds very Hindu, this is a theater started by the Parsi’s to preserve the social and cultural thread of the society. The theater does not stick to only Parsi plays; it is multi cultural with Hindus and Muslims coming together to watch and enact in the plays. The two communities bond over festivities and music in this with a population of about 15,000-16,000 people.
The theatre group organises five plays every year during the 12-day Janmashtami celebrations at the Dronacharya temple. The temple complex, consisting of five to six smaller temples and a large temple for Guru Dronacharya, is the principal community centre in Dankaur, where people from all communities come to celebrate festivals.
Parsi theatre art form was introduced by Parsi artistes in India in the mid-19th century where larger-than-life sets and cut-outs were used and epics were enacted for long hours. The Mandali boasts of being one of the rare surviving Parsi theatre groups in the era of modern, nihilistic performance art forms.
Really, the Parsi's as a community have done so much for India;right from iconic buildings and industries to art forms, we owe a lot to this dwindling population. Its our duty to preserve them and their culture; after all it is only diversity which makes a country rich.