The jiyala dancer

Dancer Shaman Chandio grooves his way from PPP rallies to Bakhtawar’s wedding

Shaikh Israr January 27, 2021
Shaman Chandio, a folk dancer from Garhi Khuda Bux, plans to perform Lewa, Marwari, Bhangra and traditional Sindhi dance at Bakhtawar Bhutto’s wedding celebrations. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Years ago, Ghulam Mustafa, popularly known as Shaman Chandio, had had the chance to see Jalal Chandio, a famous folk dancer, perform live at a wedding in his village in Garhi Khuda Bux. The moment was a defining one for Chandio - now forty years old. It prompted him to switch professions from that of a fruit seller to a folk dancer.

Since then, branding himself a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) jiyala, Chandio has been a regular at PPP rallies, where he grooves to the catchy tunes of ‘Dila Teer Bija’ and other anthems of the party.

From there, Chandio has now made his way to the Bilawal House in Karachi, where he will be performing at Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari’s wedding.


From rallies to wedding

According to Chandio, he has been performing at PPP rallies since the 1988 general elections.

On ill-fated October 18, 2007 he remembers dancing non-stop from the morning until late night and it was the only the tragic bombings that brought his feet to a halt.

Chandio dubs it the “biggest performance of his life.”

Ironically, it happened right before he witnessed a nightmare.

“Though I was at a distance from where the explosion occurred, I saw it happen. I can never forget the episode,” he told The Express Tribune.

However, there were more reasons than one that eternalised the year for him.

Chandio, along with his brother, was at the rally simply moved by his love for the PPP and late prime minister Benazir Bhutto. He had looked up to her as his leader all his life, like any other jiyala.

And he was exhilarated when she had called him up at another rally the same year, praised his performance and gave him Rs5,000 as a token of appreciation.

The legacy has been carried forward by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

It was in March 2019, at the PPP’s train march in Khairpur Mirs, that PPP chairperson Bilawal was impressed by Chandio’s moves, the dancer narrated. Later, he was introduced to the PPP chairperson when the latter enquired about him.

Fast forward around two years, and Chandio got a call from the Bhutto House in Naudero. He was told that Bilawal had invited him to Bakhtawar’s wedding, where he would be performing.

“It is an honour,” he said.

The big day(s)

And so, Chandio is in Karachi with his troupe of 10, including his two sons and two brothers. Other members in his group play instruments.

Chandio plans to perform Lewa, Marwari, Bhangra and traditional Sindhi dance on the three-day event, comprising a Mehndi - which is today (Wednesday) - the wedding and a reception.

For Chandio, this is a euphoric moment.

The profession of a dancer may not be getting him enough earning to enable him to provide a luxurious life to his large family, including eight children, but his heart is content at celebrating the PPP and the wedding of Benazir’s daughter.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2021.


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