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Tribal children’s band to welcome PM in Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi posing with the members of Shree Shakti Seva Kendra band

The children of NGO Shree Shakti Seva Kendra in Gujarat’s Ambaji town have a reason to be happy and proud as their band is all set to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time to the State in a span of 31 days.

The band performed from PM when he visited Ambaji for a public function on September 30 and now they will welcome him when he visits Kevadia on October 31 on the occasion of Rashtriya Ekta Diwas and pay homage to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 147th birth anniversary.

What makes this band different from others is that all its members are tribal children. They are predominantly from the Bharathari tribe — one of the most underprivileged communities in the Ambaji region of Banaskantha district. Before becoming part of SSSK and the band, these children used to stand at Gabbar temple in Ambaji seeking help.

SSSK has been tirelessly working with the tribals and their children of this region for the past 13 years for their upliftment, aiming to transform and empower them through education as it believes in “Bheeksha nahi Shiksha” (education and not alms). At present 140 tribal children reside in SSSK-run hostels while the NGO supports their education and trains them in activities like music, sports and arts.

Sharing with India Narrative on how the band came into being in 2019, Usha Agarwal, the Founder and Chairperson of SSSK said: “Music is an integral part of the tribal culture in Ambaji. When I first saw these children, I was amazed to see how they climbed more than thousands steps effortlessly and played deftly their traditional instrument which resembles Iktara. Drawn by their talent and stamina, forming the band became an organic choice.”

The band’s 40 members – boys and girls — were selected after careful screening from more than 120 children. They are in the age group of 14 to 17 and are students of Classes VII to X. Following the selection, an experienced teacher was appointed to teach them bagpipe and drums. Practice is a must every day except Sunday for two hours. At times a guest teacher is invited to hone their skills.

Shree Shakti Seva Kendra Band2
The band performing during an event

Music has rendered a great help in changing the lives of these children Agarwal informed India Narrative. “It improved their personality, channelised their emotions positively and helped them to come to terms with the miseries of their past. The training helped them to develop a regular and strict regime; inculcate team work and spirit; and support each other.”

The children took to music very easily and naturally as it is a part of their heritage and legacy. “They were thrilled to see the equipment and received the training with enthusiasm and spirit to learn. They practice ardently and are undeterred by the vagaries of weather,” Agarwal remarked.

The compositions the band plays include “Saare Jahan Se Achcha”, Welcome beat through drums among others. For the Prime Minister’s visit on October 31, they will render “India Gate March” and “1 Star March”.

Earlier when the band had played for PM, he appreciated and enjoyed their performance. He personally interacted with them before the public function and also posed for a group photograph with them.