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COVID-19 Vaccine: Odisha’s Ganjam District Is Using Folk Dance And Puppetry To Encourage Citizens To Get The Jab

Folk dance groups stage their performances mainly in villages across Odisha’s Ganjam district to make people aware about the need to follow the COVID-appropriate behaviour and debunking some vaccine related myths

The authorities came up with the initiative to also help the folk artists, who have lost their livelihood due to the pandemic
  • Folk dance is a vital medium to educate people to change the mindset: Govt
  • The initiative will also help artists earn a livelihood amid COVID-19
  • Ganjam accounts for 0.42% of the total active cases of Odisha

New Delhi: Odisha’s Ganjam district has adopted a new way to promote vaccination against COVID-19, as the authorities turn to folk dance and puppetry to spread awareness on the subject. A district official tells NDTV that these art forms are being used in the rural areas especially, to help encourage COVID appropriate behaviour and fight the vaccine hesitancy in these areas.

Also Read: What Is Being Done To Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines Globally?

As folk dance is a vital medium to educate the people to change the mindset, as well as to entertain the rural people, we have roped in folk artists to create awareness on vaccination drive and Covid-appropriate behaviours. As many as 278 folk dance groups have staged their performances in different panchayats in the district with the direction of the block development officers, the official said.

The official further explained that there was a lot of misinformation spreading among the rural population about how the COVID vaccine was developed in a haste and can affect the DNA of the people, result in infertility and impact women’s menstruation cycles and through these dances, the artists are debunking these myths using lyrics in the local language.

These dances have stories and songs which address these myths. Some stories are about how when a person did not take the vaccine had to be admitted in the hospital and lost his life, while those who did take the jab were not severely infected. Furthermore, there are stories about how masking can help prevent catching the infection; some stories are also about the fact that masking is important even after the vaccine, the official explained NDTV.

Popular folk dances like ‘Dasakathia’, in which performers use sticks to create music, and ‘Pala’ that narrates tales from the mythology, ‘Pasu Nurtya’ or Animal Dance, ‘Kandhei Nata’ or puppetry are being used to encourage the people for getting the vaccines and educate them about its benefits.

Also Read: COVID Vaccination Reduces Mortality Due To Delta Variant, Shows ICMR Study In Chennai

As part of the initiative, artistes also perform other dance forms such as ‘Prahallad Natak” which are stories on Lord Vishnu’s Nrusinha Avatar, Bharat Leela – dance based on mythology and Jodi Sankha in which two connected conch shells are used.

The authorities came up with the initiative to also help the folk artists, who have lost their livelihood due to the pandemic. All the artists will get an opportunity to earn money with this awareness drive, when they get their remuneration on performance through the block development officers after submitting their bills.

Due to the two lockdowns imposed to control COVID-19 spread, the livelihood of hundreds of folk artists was severely hit. We are happy as the district administration entrusted and involved us with the job to create awareness regarding wearing masks, practising social distance and promoting the benefits of the COVID Vaccine against deaths and hospitalisation, one of the artists told NDTV.

Through the dances, the artistes try to get rid of the hesitancy caused by fear of vaccines or misapprehensions regarding them. They also stage their performance abiding by the guidelines, which restricted a maximum of five artists in a group, he added.

The duration of these performances depends upon issues that are being addressed and can go on for even an hour. People attending these performances are asked to maintain social distance and wear masks at all times.

On the eve of the vaccination of a village, we educate the people, through a dance performance of around an hour, of the benefits and encourage them to take their jabs, he explained.

Furthermore, people are taught about the right way to wear masks, wash hands and the importance of maintaining social distance, he added.

Also Read: Pregnant Women Don’t Experience More Severe Symptoms Of Covid Vaccines: Study

The Sarpanch and District officials are promoting these performances through posters and word of mouth, where they encourage the villagers to attend the shows to know more about COVID-19. The official also tells NDTV that people living in the district are supportive of these folk performances.

The awareness drive started in end of July and will continue for some more days, the official added.

Earlier this month, Ganjam district also conducted a vaccination drive among the street vendors and these vendors proudly sported a “I am vaccinated” poster on their carts and baskets.

COVID-19 In Odisha

With about 43 active cases, Ganjam district accounts for 0.42 per cent of the total active cases of Odisha, which stands at 9,672. The daily count of Covid-19 cases in Odisha on August 16, came down below 1000 for the second time in the last four months since the second wave hit the state in May. Odisha’s positivity rate stands at 1.53 per cent.

As many as 868 people tested positive for the virus on Monday pushing the tally of the state to 9,95,433 so far, as per the data received from the Information and Public Relations (I&PR) Department.

Khordha district of the state has reported the highest 256 cases in the last 24 hours while Cuttack remained second in the list with 154 infections. The state has so far administered nearly 2 crore COVID-19 doses, and about 1.5 crore people have received their first dose. As per the state health department officials, about 15 per cent of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated so far.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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