The Manda Project

A new film documentary about interconnectedness

We are currently raising funds to pay for the next stage of pre-production.

For inquiries, please email [email protected]

Religious, caste, and racial divisions that often lead to conflict and violence are put aside for nine days of the year in Jharkand, India.

This is the foundation of the Manda Festival.

In this documentary film Pradhuman Nayak,  the son of a tribal leader now living in the West, will share a previously unavailable view of the Manda Festival. During this festival, a range of participants in Jharkhand endure extreme physical ordeals to invoke the god Shiva and ask for blessings of world peace and unity. What makes this festival extraordinary is not only the type and length of the physical ordeals experienced by the devotees, but also that the caste structure and associated rules are suspended for the duration of the festival.

The documentary will capture various elements of the yearly Manda Festival. Devotees prepare themselves by fasting from food for nine days, including three days without any water, performing purification rites to connect with each other and the planet and acting collectively as members of one family. During this time, they abandon traditional notions of casteism and racism, focusing only on cleansing their minds and bodies for the upcoming ordeals. 

The Manda Festival is almost entirely undocumented in the Western world, and as the tribal regions adopt technology and modern practices, this way of life and the core beliefs and values underlying the religious practice will almost certainly change with modern times. As such, we seek to document and explore these tribal rituals while also building global understanding of Jharkhand tribal culture’s relationship to suffering, celebration, love, and interconnectedness. 

The film is being produced by Pradhuman Nayak, an award-winning actor, performance artist and tribal member from Jharkhand. On his first visit, his camera was destroyed by devotees, and now he is working with local residents, and interacting with the devotees and their families. Pradhuman’s position in the tribe, and years of relationship building with the devotees, makes him uniquely positioned to share these insights and questions. 

Pradhuman is a leading practitioner in ancient forms of tribal martial arts, and is certified as a body mind massage therapist. His deep familial connection to the state and the tribes is informed by his film and martial arts training. Nayak Productions brings all this to bear in the telling of Manda and the history of Jharkhand by blending Western understandings of the mind body connection and pain into question through the stories and ordeals of the ancient rituals of Manda. 

The film will take a blended cross-cultural documentary format, combining participatory and performative storytelling approaches. The overarching theme of the film will be to examine the mind-body relationship and raise questions about what the devotees are able to endure, which is seemingly in direct contradiction to what science says is possible. Within this context, Pradhuman also brings a strong tribal advocacy focus to this work and plans to use elements of dramatic filmmaking to highlight social justice themes of equity, race, and caste within India. 

Manda Film Fundraiser and Happy Hour

Sunday, March 8, 2020; 5-7 PM

Join us for an evening of appetizers, tribal music, and a concept reel and discussion of the Manda Film project, brought to you by Director Pradhuman Nayak, and the team at Nayak Productions!

With your help, we are planning to finish the production of the film for wider release. All donations are welcome, but not required.

RSVP: [email protected]