The Ganjam district administration in Odisha has roped in folk artists to dispel the hesitancy of Covid vaccination among the people, particularly in the rural areas, an official said.

Folk dance groups, with limited artists, mainly stage their performances in villages across the district. They also raise awareness among the people and appeal to them to follow the Covid-appropriate behaviour.

As many as 278 folk dance groups have staged their performances in different panchayats in the district with the direction of the block development officers. The awareness drive will continue for some more days, the official said.

Popular folk dances like Dasakathia, Pala, Prahallad Natak, Bharat Leela, Jodi Sankha, Pasu Nurtya (Animal Dance), Kandhei Nata (puppetry) have been performed to encourage the people for vaccination and educate them about its benefits.

As folk dance is a vital medium to educate the people to change the mindset, as well as to entertain the rural people, we have roped in folk artists to create awareness on vaccination drive and Covid-appropriate behaviours, Ganjam Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange said.

The folk artists, who have lost their livelihood due to the pandemic, will get an opportunity to earn some money with this awareness drive, district culture officer Akshaya Kumar Sethi said.

He said that folk artists would get their remuneration on performance through the block development officers after submitting their bills.

"Due to the Covid lockdown, the livelihood of hundreds of folk artists was severely hit," said Prasant Kumar Padhy, the vice president of the Zilla Kala Sanskruti Sangh, an apex body of folk dance groups.

"We are happy as the district administration entrusted us with the job to create awareness," he said.

Through the dances, the artists try to get rid of the hesitancy caused by fear of vaccines or misapprehensions regarding them.

They also stage their performance by abiding by the guidelines, which restricted a maximum of five artists in a group, he added.

"On the eve of the vaccination of a village, we educate the people, through a dance performance of around an hour, of the benefits and encourage them to take their jabs," said Bala Krushna Mishra, a Dasakathi artist in Sheragad.

"Besides, people are told about the right way to wear masks, wash hands and the importance of maintaining social distance," said Alok Bisoi, a Ghuduki artist in Digapahandi.