Women’s dhol groups have been a constant feature of the final day processions in the Ganesh Festival. A picturesque display of rhythm, energy and enthusiasm, many mandals in the city prefer to invite girls’ dhol troupes for special performances during the procession.
Started in 1978, the 32-year-old dhol group of the Yuvati Vibhag of Jnana Prabodhini has been a well-known feature of the city’s Ganesh Festival processions. “The whole motive behind girls participating in the processions is because of the philosophy that they can stand on equal footing with men. From dhol to barchi and even flag, the girls do everything in these groups,” said Medhavini Watve, head, Yuvati Vibhag, Jnana Prabodhini.
Having started with 15 members, today, the group has as many as 200 participants taking active part in over 15 presentations which include 12 processions and three displays at various locations in the city. “We do not approach mandals for performancse. Instead they come to us with requests after which we perform in front of them. Girls between standard seven till post graduation are the members of the group,” added Watve. Renuka Swaroop Girls’ High School has been taking part in the processions for the past three years and explaining the motive behind the initiative, Sagar Walke, teacher and head of the group said, “We have been participating in the processions with two motives. One is on the lines of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak‘s philosophy with which he started the festival. We believe that it is a perfect display of unity. Secondly, it is about health as these girls need to take extra efforts to increase their strength in order to bear the weight of the dhol and play them all through the night.”