Jagessar: Revive mas in Sando

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 17:15

Mas in San Fer­nan­do is dy­ing and tra­di­tion­al mas no longer seems at­trac­tive to young chil­dren but leg­endary mas icon Li­onel Jages­sar and his son Ju­nior are de­ter­mined to change this.

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia dur­ing a tour of his mas camp by stu­dents of Win­der­mere Pri­vate School on Mon­day, Jages­sar said the par­tic­i­pa­tion of chil­dren in Kid­dies Car­ni­val had de­clined be­cause of the age of the in­ter­net.

“There are a lot of oth­er things for kids to do to­day so they are not in­ter­est­ed in mas as they were in pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions,” Ju­nior said.

He added, “They find oth­er things to do like watch movies, and browse the in­ter­net. They don’t come out to see Car­ni­val stuff like they used to.  Long time when we put up a ban­ner, peo­ple in the com­mu­ni­ty would know we have a band com­ing out and they will come out but now  all kids with their heads down look­ing in­to a tablet or a phone.”

Ju­nior said the band still had space for chil­dren, adding that they were en­cour­ag­ing schools to vis­it the mas camp to learn about tra­di­tion­al Car­ni­val mas.

Com­mend­ing Win­der­mere for en­cour­ag­ing pupils to have an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of lo­cal cul­ture, Jages­sar said every week tours are held in the mas camp with dif­fer­ent schools.

The Low­er and Up­per Kinder­garten stu­dents were giv­en a tour of the area where cos­tumes were de­signed and pro­duced. They learned the art of wire bend­ing and were giv­en the op­por­tu­ni­ty to try on fan­cy In­di­an head dress­es and wings.

Jages­sar Sr said he has trained over 400 tec­a­hers in tra­di­tion­al cos­tume de­sign over the years. Un­der the Na­tion­al Car­ni­val Com­mis­sion and the Min­istry of Cul­ture, Jages­sar, a re­cip­i­ent of the Na­tion­al Hum­ming­bird award said he was com­mit­ted to pass­ing on the tra­di­tions of yes­ter­year.

Jages­sar said dur­ing the ear­ly 1960s he start­ed mak­ing his own cos­tumes to play mas. Lat­er on, his friends al­so want­ed cos­tumes, so they pooled their mon­ey to buy ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate mas. Over the years the group evolved to a sec­tion, and then in­to a band, and is now a com­pa­ny.

Jages­sar said since he start­ed pro­duc­ing mas in 1979, his band has re­ceived nu­mer­ous ac­co­lades.

His chil­dren Ju­nior, Denise Ku­ru-Bhag­wan­deen, Dar­ryl Ku­ru, and Nicole David pro­duces the Fan­cy In­di­an pro­duc­tions.

Jages­sar said he was look­ing for­ward to re­viv­ing Car­ni­val in the south city.

He said the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to get­ting chil­dren in­volved in tra­di­tion­al mas was not the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty of the gov­ern­ment but should be tack­led from a com­mu­ni­ty stand­point.

Mean­while, prin­ci­pal of Win­der­mere Lau­reen De­bance-Misir agreed that it was im­por­tant for stu­dents to learn about the tra­di­tions of Car­ni­val.

“Its not just about read­ing it in the book it is about see­ing it come alive. It’s a mem­o­ry that will re­main with them for the rest of their lives. Each class is do­ing re­ser­ach on a ca­lyp­son­ian and they are learn­ing the songs of that ca­lyp­son­ian,” De­bance-Misir said. She com­mend­ed Jages­sar for con­tin­u­ing to ed­u­cate the youth and for his con­tri­bu­tion to San Fer­nan­do Car­ni­val.