The folk artistes called ‘Vasudev’ in Maharashtra are in Nagpur again. The Vasudev traditional art can be traced for centuries, though nothing concrete is known about this art.
Vasudev, a traditional art form, mostly devoted to Lord Krishna. They sing devotional songs, move from one place to other. Their life depends on alms given by the people, preferably food grains. They are also known to be expert in face reading and usually speak about the nature of the person in front.
In the modern world the folk art is on the verge of extinction. In urban areas, they are rarely seen. The concentration is in Nashik, Parbhani and surrounding areas.
Aba Vasudev and Mangesh Vasudev, in Nagpur, spoke about the tradition in brief.
In traditional white attire with Rudraksh bids around neck. ‘chiplya’ (Khartal), Taal (cymbal) and flute in hand or tied around waist, visit of Vasudev to Nagpur had become rare. A few years back, some members of the community were beaten to death by local people, suspecting them to be thieves.
‘Vasudev’ would not beg for anything. They will move singing devotional songs and whatever people offer is accepted. Earlier the offerings were in the form of food grains. Now for convenience money is offered by people.
Aba said that after Nagpur they will move back to their native place Nanded.
Earlier Vasudevs moved across Maharashtra and Karnataka. A very little members of the community are following the tradition. Many of them from this Nomadic community got educated and have adopted to different professions.
Maharashtra Government had planned to compile data of this community. Bahinabai Chaudhari North Maharashtra University was working on compiling data of the community in Jalgaon, Nandurbar and Dhule districts. Kusumagraj Trust, Nashik also worked on the issue. However, the community and its tradition is gradually diminishing as a folk art.
Vasudevs also worked as source for getting information for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and others dynasties in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Later they were also used by political parties as campaigners.
Aba, who has studied upto Standard XII, said that only a few persons are left who are following the tradition. The modern society has forgotten this tradition, leaving them in lurch. Many of them have shifted to urban areas to earn their bread and butter by adopting different works.