Silent now, Delhi’s dholwalas look forward to poll celebrations

May 3rd, 2009 - 1:12 pm ICT by IANS  

By Amrah Ashraf

New Delhi, May 3 (IANS) Their booming beats would make campaigners break into a jig and catch the attention of bystanders during polls. But Delhi’s drummer boys - ‘dholwalas’ as they are popularly known - are conspicuously silent this election owing to official restrictions.

They are now keenly awaiting May 16, the day poll results will be announced, in the hope that at least then victorious political parties and candidates will hire them for celebrations and their fortunes will see an upswing.

Babli, a 23-year-old dholwala, told IANS: “We used to earn so well during elections, but this year we have been robbed of our money. The ban on beating drums is an impediment in our fight for sustenance”.

For as long as he can remember, Babli has been beating drums during election rallies - attracting the attention of people and getting a good pay. His family migrated from Rajasthan three decades ago.

The prohibition by the Election Commission on beating of drums during campaigning, however, has played spoilsport. It was the one occasion when they used to be in high demand and make some extra money, other than performing at weddings and other festivities.

An official of the Delhi Election Commission told IANS: “Any activity that hampers normal life is strictly prohibited during election campaigning. Since the beating of drums causes noise pollution, it has been prohibited.”

The dholwalas, many of whom hail from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, are now awaiting the election results in the hope that their business will boom then.

“We are poor and hence no one listens to our plea. Now I am just waiting for the election results to be announced. The winning party will surely celebrate and no celebration is complete without the din of drums. Hopefully, I can make up for the losses then,” said Babli, sitting in his dilapidated home in a slum in south Delhi’s R.K. Puram.

Dharampal, another dholwala, said: “I have already received a call from a certain political party member regarding the availability of dhols post- election results. They have promised to pay us Rs.800 per dhol, which is quite a good amount.

“So I am sure things will change and we will see better days.”

The dholwalas are however hardly bothered about which political party comes to power.

“Koi fark nahin parta kaun aaye, kaun jaaye (I don’t care which party comes to power). All that matters to us is that we should have enough money to buy two square meals a day for our families,” Dharampal said.

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