Ram Dayal Munda



Shri Ram Dayal Munda was born in 1939 in Diuri village in Jharkhand. He learnt the traditional music of his people from his grandfather Chamu Singh Munda, who trained him in singing as well as playing the flute and drum. Shri Ram Dayal studied anthropology at Ranchi University, obtaining a Master’s degree, and went on to do his PhD in linguistics at the University of Chicago. He was Vice-Chancellor of Ranchi University from 1986 to 1988. Immersed in the culture of the region, Shri Ram Dayal Munda built up a troupe of dancers and musicians even as a student at Ranchi, which performed regularly in youth festivals and on radio during the late 1950s. Again as a student in Chicago and subsequently a teacher at Minnesota University, Shri Munda put together South Asian Folk Performers troupe com- prising Indian students and faculty which performed to acclaim in several cities in the United States. Since then, consistently, Shri Munda has sought to integrate traditional performance culture in modern- day life, symbolized by the Sarhul procession with dancers and musicians which he promoted and still leads in Ranchi. His troupe led the Indian cultural contingent in the Festival of India in the U.S.S.R. in 1987, and in 1989 toured the Philippines, China, and Japan. It is owing to his leadership in cultural affairs in Jharkhand that village akharas for the practice of dance and music were rebuilt during these years. More recently, a 150-member strong troupe led by him has won plaudits for its performances at the World Social Forum in Mumbai and Delhi. Thus practically, Shri Munda has demonstrated his commitment to traditional culture and his oft- repeated motto of life — Nachi se banchi, Dance to live. Shri Munda has contributed significantly to the uplift of tribal peoples through his work as a successful teacher and institution-builder. His extensive research in Indian languages and literatures, and in tribal life and peoples of India, has made a mark at the international level. He has been connected with the movement for the creation of Jharkhand, and has engaged also with the world indigenous movement. He has numerous publications to his credit, including several dealing with Mundari songs. Besides Ranchi, he has taught at Tokyo, Syracuse, and Australian National University. Shri Ram Dayal Munda receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribu- tion to the tribal music and dance of Jharkhand.