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Folk Dances of India

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Folk Dances of Orissa

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Prahlad Nataka

Prahlad Nataka:
The dance masters in Art Theater still performs Prahlad Nataka in many cities of Orissa. But, this folk art form is originated in Ganjam District. The actual performance involves music, vigorous dance and acting.

Prahlad Nataka is considered as a form of traditional theatre famous in this region. It is a one-play repertoire, famous in the southern district of Orissa but commenced in Ganjam. Generally, it is performed in the open space or ground on a five or six- tiered stage, at the summit of which Hiranyakashipu`s throne is placed at the middle.

In Prahlad Nataka, the textual part contains songs that are 120 in all. Gopinath Parichha wrote all these. He belonged to the court of Raja Ramakrishna Chhotray of Jalantar and ruled from 1857 to 1905. The language used in the play is a sound mixture of Sanskrit and Oriya. In total, there are about twenty characters in the play. Each one is required to dance & mime on frequent occasion. The performers use stylized gestures & coordinated movements, at times. The characters wear distinctively colourful & attractive costumes with make-up on face. They are successful in grabbing attention of Viewers. A young boy usually plays the role of Prahlad with loud voice.

The theme of the play is an old Story of Bhakta Prahlad. His father was a king named Hiranyakashipu. Prahlad was totally opposite to his father and he worshipped Bhagwan Vishnu from his childhood. This infuriated his father who forbids him from taking Vishnu`s name in his kingdom. He warned Prahlad several times that if he did not stop taking Vishnu`s name he would kill him. But Prahlad did not stop his habit, as he was Vishnu`s true devotee. This was too much for Hiranyakashipu. He tried to kill Prahlad using many ways like poisoning the food.

One day his father asked Prahlad, about the presence of Bhagwan Vishnu in the pillar & ordered him to embrace his Bhagwan from the pillar. As soon as Prahlad embraced towards the pillar, a miracle occurred. The pillar burst out and Bhagwan Vishnu appeared in the form of Narsimha. Narsimha has a half of his body made from a man and the other half of a lion. Narsinh grabbed Hiranyakashipu & taking him to the doorstep of the palace roared loudly. It was a time of dusk, neither day or night. Narsimha Bhagwan was neither man nor an animal. He was neither in the house nor outside it, at the midway. Hiranyakashipu`s death had arrived at the time. With his sharp claws Narsimha killed the tyrant. Prahlad bowed to Bhagwan & became happy with Darshana of God. Even today also Prahlad has become the symbol of true faith in Bhagwan like Dhruva. The whole this story is enacted & presented to viewers with blending of music & dance.


Jumur or Jumu Nach:
For more than a hundred years of settlement of tea tribes in Assam, they have developed a synthesized form of dance over the period of time. This dance is called as `Chah Baganar Jumur Nach` that means Jumur dance of tea garden. The word `Nach` simply means dance. Tea folk dances are performed to make relaxation while working.

This dance is very much prevalent in all tea garden surrounding areas & performed by girls and boys together. Though sometimes the girls dance alone, with precision of footwork while holding each other`s waist tightly. This is a very beautiful dance to watch & perform. It can be easily seen in any tea gardens of Orissa.


Bagurumba Dance:
It is a folk dance of Bodo Community. Bodo community is very rich in cultural wealth. It has many folk dances to boast the point. But among all the dances the best and the most attractive dance is the Bagurumba dance. This is mainly a formation dance performed with slow steps and outstretched hands. A group of girls dressed in most colourful costumes usually perform this dance with the accompaniment of traditional musical instruments of Bodos. This dance is common in the Bodo inhabited areas of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Nalbari, Darrang and Sonitpur districts.

The dance is the usually performed during Bwishagu festival of the Bodos in the Bishuba Sankranti or in Mid-April. The Bwishagu festival begins with a worship of cow. Then all young people bow down to their parents and other elders in the house.

After this the Bathou is worshipped by offering the deity chicken and zou i.e .rice beer. On this day, Bodo women wearing in their colourful dokhna, jwmgra and aronai perform the Bagurumba dance. This dance is also called as the Bardwisikhla dance. The dance is also accompanied by the musical instruments like Serja, which is a bowed instrument, Sifung means a kind of flute and Tharkha, which is a piece of split bamboo. With these instruments, Kham, a long drum made of wood and goatskin and Gongona, a musical instrument of a curved horn is used. The festival is celebrated with pleasure in all areas of Bodo community. This festival ends with a community prayer at Garjasali. This dance prevails in Bodo inhabited areas of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Nalbari, Darrang and Sonitpur districts.

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Dalkhai Dance

Dalkhai Dance :
The `Dalkhai` is an eye-catchy dance performance by the tribal women from the Sambalpur district of Orissa. It is quite a virile dance performance. The festival of `Dusserah` is the occasion of performing Dalkhai that is the most popular folk-dance of western Orissa. The performance of the dance is very common & it is same for other festivals such as Bhaijauntia, Phangun Puni, Nuakhai etc.

Young women of Binjhal, Kuda, Mirdha, Sama and some other tribal communities from Sambalpur, Bolangir, Sundargarh and Dhenkanal districts mostly perform this dance. For the performance, men join them as drummers and musicians. Usually, an orchestra of folk music that includes a number of instruments known as Dhol, Nisan & Tamki accompanies the dance. Nisan is a typically giant drum, which is made up of iron case, & Tamki is a tiny one-sided drum played by two sticks. Sometimes, a one-sided drum named Tasa and Mahuri are also played for music. However, the Dhol player controls the tempo of the dance through its beating with dancing in front of the girls. The dance is known as Dalkhai dance because in the beginning and at the end of every stanza the word is used as an address to a girl friend.

The famous love story of Radha-Krishna, the episodes from Ramayana and Mahabaharata, the description of natural scenery are depicted through the lyrics of songs. The young women dance and sing vigorously. The songs used in this are of special type with the additive `Dalkhai Bol` which is an address to a girl friend. At the time of dancing on the rhythms of the Dhol, they place the legs close together and bend both the knees. In some another movement, they move in a forward and backward direction in a half-sitting position. Sometimes, as the dance proceeds further they make concentric circles in clock-wise and anti-clock-wise direction. Generally, the dancers wear a colourful Sambalpuri Sari and a scarf on the shoulders holding the ends below in both the hands. All the dancers are bedecked with traditional jewelry perform the dance for long hours. The Dalkhai dance has several adjunctive forms that are equally popular. Some of them are known as Mayalajada, Rasarkeli, Gunji kuta, Jamudali, Banki, Jhulki, Sainladi etc. As per the style, theme and performance Dalkhai is basically a secular form of performance.

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Deodhani Dance

Deodhani Dance:
Deodhani is danced as a solo or group performance. In the group performance, it includes 3 or 4 females essentially. It is performed on the occasion of worship of Devi Manasa or Maroi. It is actually based on a mythological reference. According to mythology, Behulaa had to dance before the goddess Manasa to get back her husband`s life. Lakhindar is the husband of Behulaa. The dancers generally wear Mekhela in Muga & red blouse as their dress combination. With it they also wear different traditional jewelry & ornaments. Dancers leave the hair open while dancing. The music for the dance is provided with the tune of Jaidhol i.e. a specific cylindrical shaped percussion instrument & Khutitaal that is played by Palis.

Basically, this dance form depicts the process of worship of Devi Manasa. Some of the steps in the dance are difficult & complex. The striking moments of this dance are dancing with Daa. Daa is a sharp weapon that is used for sacrifice during the war situation, and the rotating of dancers` head in rapid circular motion, with open tresses. It is strongly believed by the people that the Goddess during the course of the dance possesses Deodhanis. Such kind of dances strengthens the belief & faith of the people.

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Dhepa Dhuliya Dance :
Dhepa Dhuliya Dance is an another form of traditional folk art of Darrang region of Orissa. In this dance performance, two to four performers play the Dhepadhol. Dhepa is specially created in such a way that it will generate a unique thud out of beating it. And they are accompanied by 4 to 6 persons playing on Taals (Cymbal). The team members perform the dance while others are playing on the instruments. Dhepadhol is the instrument from which the dance is named so.

Dhepadhol is a cylindrical shaped drum of 1.5 meter in length and having a tapered left end. This Dhol is covered at both ends with animal skins like Jaidhol and Bardhol. But speciality of Dhepadhol is different, the covering of the right end of the Dhepadhol is double layered and has a small whole on the outer layer.

And water is put into to fill the gap between the layers so as to get the thud, and hence the derived the above name. Another unique feature of Dhepa Dhuliya dance is a vibrant & colourful shirt for men & prominence of red, green and blue colours in the gowns of women. Dhepa Dhuliya is generally performed in a wedding ceremony or on other such social occasions.

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Dhepa Dhuliya Dance

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