COVID-19 awareness campaign through puppetry
Tripura Puppet Theatre (TPT) group in a novel move has undertaken the task to educate people about the dreaded COVID-19 through traditional "Putul Nach" (puppet dance), drawing people's attention and appreciation.
The TPT, a 65-year-old folk cultural body, from March 21, the World Puppet Day, has started a unique endeavour to make people aware about the danger of novel coronavirus (nCoV) and how to protect from this disease. A video of the puppet dance on novel coronavirus, prepared by the artists of TPT group, and uploaded on the "YouTube" platform and other social media is attracting huge people's attention and admiration.
One of the founders of TPT, Prabhitangshu Das said that like every year they had planned a puppet dance event to observe the World Puppet Day on March 21 but due to the preventive measures announced by the government they had to call off the programme.
"Since we are unable to perform our annual puppet dance event due to COVID-19, we have chosen to go online this year through diverse social media to make people aware against the danger of the disease and defensive measures," Das told IANS.
In Bengali language, TPT's 1.11 minute awareness video with English subtitles portrayed a story where a government official coughs and shows flu-like symptoms and is advised by his wife and daughter to consult a doctor. The doctor in his set of advisories explained the worried family about the disease. The video, containing three puppet dolls, ends with a slogan, "Stay clean and hygienic" and highlighted the messages of World Health Organisation and other international bodies besides the advice of doctors.
Das, son of TPT's founder Haripada Das, said that all the characters (puppets) of the video are made by their members. "Puppetry is one of the powerful traditional folk cultural medium and it has shown numerous examples of efficacy in public health issues," said Das, who was awarded the "Sangeet Natak Akademi Akademi Award" in 2016 in recognition of his immense contribution to contemporary puppetry.
He said: "My father late Haripada Das started the puppet dance culture in mountainous northeastern state of Tripura in 1956 to propagate the social awareness messages through puppetry. As an employee of the Social Welfare and Social Education Department of Tripura government, my father through the puppet dance had started informing, educating, and entertaining people on diverse issues and making them aware about their social responsibilities and cultural heritage."
The TPT excelled participated in different International and national puppet festivals and workshops in India and abroad.