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The ancient Japanese tradition of taiko will be on display at Colby College at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, when the group Burlington Taiko performs in the Page Commons Room of Cotter Union. The event is open to the public and admission is free.

Taiko–Japanese for “big drum”–incorporates thunderous drums up to 60 inches in diameter, colorful pageantry and ritualistic choreography influenced heavily by martial arts. The ritual’s origins began when priests used the performance to dispel evil spirits and insects from the rice fields and samurai used it to instill fear in their enemies. Peasants also used taiko in their prayers for rain and in harvest festivals.

Burlington Taiko, from Burlington, Vt., has been performing since 1987. The group performed at the 100th running of the Boston Marathon, the Joseph Campbell – Keepers of the Lore Festival, the Black Ships Festival, and performs annually at Burlington’s First Night in Vermont. The group has twice been recognized by the International Taiko community for their mesmerizing and powerful performances.

The event is sponsored by Colby’s Department of East Asian Studies, Cultural Events Committee, Asian Cultural Society, International Club, Asian American Student Association, and Department of Music, with support from the Freeman Foundation.