Cultural wing of Durbar

Komal Gandhar

Since, DMSC came into existence in 1995, there was a felt need to develop a cultural wing of its own to express communities’ thoughts, emotions and connect to outer world. KomalGandhar, the cultural wing emerged as a unique platform which in one hand helps exchange of ideas, thoughts across linguistics, religious and regional barriers to forge a common identity of sex workers across regions and countries.It addition to that KomalGandhar has served as an instrument to communicate their issues and challenges to its bigger audience. It was formally registered in 1997.Through thecultural wing the sex worker took steps tochampion workers’ rights of sex workers and press the call for decriminalization of sex work, sex workers and sex work environment.

There are number of cultural troupes under KomalGandhar i.e., dance, drama, Music Band, choir, mimes, among others. They have performed all over India as well as in abroad – receiving critical and popular acclaim. The cultural wing has also received number of praises and won prizes from various competition organized in India and abroad. KomalGandhar has played an effective and very useful role in furthering sex workers’ movement.

KomolGandhar and Durbar has succeeded in drawing a very wide range of volunteers which includes well known playwrights, singers and dancers to join the group’s activities. Renowned cultural artists has built the group’s capacity, lent credibility, facilitated access to mainstream performance venues and helped generate further public interest and publicised KomalGandhar.

KomolGandhar develops its own scripts, plays and compose dances, based on sex workers’ experiences. KomalGandharreceivedfavourable reviews both at the national and international level not just as ‘sex workers’ cultural wing but also based on their quality of performances.

KomalGandhar has number of creative performances based on different themes – HIV prevention, social stigma, and gender inequality, the social construction of sex work, trafficking,child marriage and so on so forth. Most importantly KomalGandhar has contributed in community mobilization and has helped for deeper understanding on structural and political barriers what enhances causes of sex workers and their family members.


The dance troupe of KomalGandhar performed in the opening ceremony of the 12th World AIDS Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland (1998). KomlGandhar secured their place competing other 72 troops representing different countries of the world

KomalGandhar performed in International Congress on AIDS in Asia Pacific in Bangkok and Kathmandu where they perform into Regional Conference on Empowerment and Action.

Aside from West Bengal, KomalGandhar has travelled to different states in India e.g. Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh.

KomalGandhar performed at the regional event organized by UNDP during the reception for the launch of their regional programme, ‘REACH – Beyond Borders’ (Regional Empowerment and Action to contain HIV/AIDS) held in Delhi, India. They also performed in the launch of ‘REACH Program’ in Nepal (2002)

KomalGandhar also performed in the inaugural program organized by UNAIDS Country Office on ‘HIV/AIDS and Trafficking’, in Delhi.

KomalGandhar participated in the Children’ Book Fair, Kolkata(2011) and won the First Prize in the Group Dance category

KomalGandhar participated in the World Dance Festival, Kolkata during (2011 and 2015) organized by the West Bengal Dance Group Federation and West Bengal District Music Academy

KomalGandhar performed both in the inaugural as well as in the closing ceremony of the International AIDS Conference Hub, Kolkata, 21-27 July, 2012 Kolkata

Durbar Band, was created in 2012, Since then they have been performing in the eastern region of India creating ripples among the audience

KomalGandhar took part in the SambhuBhattacharaya Dance Festival, Kolkata, on 8-9 March 2013

Album named ‘NijhumRaterTarara’ sung by the children of sex workers has released by Ms. UshaUthup, a well-known singer (2014)

ManbhumLoksanskriti O NachniUnnayanSamiti

Purulia is the heart of folk and tribal arts like Chhou, baul, Natuwa,Jhumur, Nachni whose social status is very poor.Durbar works in Purulia (a district town of West Bengal) for the rights and dignity of Nachnis. After working among the weaker population, DMSC became aware that the Nachnis were in a terrible condition and not even recognized as humans. They are living in a difficult situation and their art form appears to be losing its steam and patronage.

The situation of the impoverished Nachni dancers received no support from outside till Durbar MahilaSamanwaya Committee helped Nachnis regain their self-esteem and raise their collective voices.They usually belong to very poor families, sold to or forced to live with Rasiks who are relatively solvent families having skill in musical instruments. They are controlled by their Rasiks. Rasiks train the women to sing and dance. Nachnis often end up with buildingrelationship with these men. However the family of Rasiks treat the Nachnimore as an outcast but they subsume the earnings of Nachnis.Theyare often treated as ‘untouchables’.They are even excluded from social and religious events and denied a decent funeral. After the death of a Nachni, the body is tied by a rope round her feet then dragged across the streets and left to rot in the open ground.

DMSC as part of the mission stands in support of the marginalised communities and help them to fight for their rights and recognition. As a result and initiation, Durbar in 1997, helped the Nachnis to get their recognition as a folk artists. In 2004 Durbar in collaboration with the different folk artists of Purulia district established the ManbhumLoksanskriti O NachniUnnayanSamiti.Slowly they organised and started articulating their issues and finally get recognisation as entertainment workers by the Ministry of Culture, Government of West Bengal in 2008.


On 23rd November 2016, ‘Jhumur’ and ‘Nachni’ of Purulia was staged at the south lawn of Victoria Memorialonon the World Heritage day. It was a historic day for the ‘Nachnis’ because the platform where they performed attracts lot of dignitaries all across the city and the state of West Bengal.

Manbhum Lokosanskriti o Nachni Unnayan Samity in collaboration with Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee as scheduled, started cultural event on 4th March 2018 (Sunday) as the beginning of a 3 days long open ground fair ‘Lokosanskriti Mela 2018’ at Surulia near Deer Park, Purulia.

The inauguration program started by lighting the lamp by the Paschimanchal Unnayan Mantri Shri Shanti Ram Mahato. Other members who graced the occasion were Shri Sushen Majhi(Mayor in Council, Education), Shri Shamim Dadkhan(Chairman, Municipality), Smt.Chaya Das(Councilor), Smt. Sumita Singhamalla(Director, Purulia Jela Parishad), among many other dignitaries.

After the inaugural program the dias was taken over by Bimala Devi and Postobala Devi who mesmerised the audience with their Jhumur song & dance.

To celebrate the successful completion of 10 years of the recognisation of Nachni community as part of theManbhumLoksanskriti O NachniUnnayanSamiti, organised a 3 days (1st April-3rd April 2017) long open ground fair in collaboration with Durbar MahilaSamanwaya Committee which is named as ‘Lokosanskritimela 2017’ at Surulia, near Deer Park, Purulia.Theperformances of various folk dances like Chou, Jhumur, Natua, Tushu, Bhadu, Karam, GhoraNach,Baul and Patanach, Hari Sankirtan were part of the cultural extravaganza. The event attracted more than 5000 people including local collectives, bank officials, academicians, scholars and NGO members among others.More than 200 cultural troupes were presented their folk art in three successive days. Most of these cultural troupes hails from the rural background who still believe in traditional art and culture. The 3 days festival would be a breathtaking experience with its rustic flavour of vivid folk culture.

The fair got few essence of the extinct folk art of Purulia. The mela experienced active participation of the people of Purulia and its suburbs. Each days ends up with colourful cultural events participated by renowned cultural troupes and local artisans of Purulia. The event attracted more than 6000 people including local collectives, government officials, academicians, scholars and NGO members.