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Folk Dances of India

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Folk Dance of Jharkhand

Chhou Dance

Chhou Dance:
Chhou dance is performed in the tribal areas of Jharkhand and also in some parts of Chattisgarh and Orissa states of India. As such there is no any the actual history behind performance of the Chhou dance, it is still performed from many years. Hence, it is considered as the advanced dance form of traditional tribal dance that has developed gradually with time & with the course of interactions with other neighboring cultures.

Chhou dance is mostly performed in the open space or ground field during the night. Generally, fire poles called as mashaal surround the dance arena. They are for lighting purpose. But with the urbanization, in some parts, electrical lights & lamps have replaced fire poles. The dancers take a bath and do puja before performing this dance. This is because to maintain the sacredness of dance as the characters in the dance are of gods.

As it is a mask dance, the Chhou dancers use big size & colourful decorative masks. These masks are made of `paper mache`, that is of lightwood and paper. Chhou dance is considered as a tribal form of "nritya natika" drama. Almost all characters with Chhou masks play mythological characters. Most of these performances or plays are strongly based on the stories of "Mahabharat" and "Ramayan". This mythological linkage in Chhou dance makes it very spiritual and respectful performance.

All the characters of Chhou dance wear traditional ornaments and dance with various weapons. The cloths are very colourful. Performance of Chhou dance involves many gymnastic actions in the dance sequences and most of the characters are shown very aggressive in play. This dance drama is accompanied by traditional nagada called as drums and flute for providing a background. This also provides a rhythm for the dance action. Dancing steps or pattern varies with the modulations of drumbeats.

Like the other tribal dances, direct contribution from women participants in the Chhou dance is not visible. But to understand the tribal way of living, it plays a vital role.

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