Nachnis, the dancing girls of Manbhum, are the bearers of the unique art-form of nachni dance and jhumur song. From the 18th to the 20th century, thry performed in the courts of the rajas and jamindars, who were their patrons. Social and economic fall of the rajajamindars forced them to evolve their art into a form of mass-entertainment. Girls from economically impoverished lower – caste families either escape or are sold to the rasiks, who train them to sing and dance and use them as instruments of income. Nachins also stay as the second wife of the rasik, without any social recongnition. During the performance, they become angels in the eye of the spectators. But when age and hard life blunt their ability to sing and dance, they are abandoned by the spectators and consequently by rasiks also. Often their lives end in brutal loneliness, neglect and poverty. Yet, nachnis like Sindhubala Devi, Geetarani, Mahato, Hajari linger on as angels in the collective remembrance of the rural jhumur-loving people of Manbhum.
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