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Cultural India




Folk Dances Of East India

Chhau (Bihar)
Chhau is a popular folk dance of Bihar. Since masks form an important feature of this dance it is called 'Chhau', which means mask. All the Chhau performers hold swords and shields while performing. The stages are decorated and brightly lit by torches, lanterns and flickering oil lamps. The musical instruments used are the Dhol (a cylindrical drum), Nagara (a huge drum) and Shehnai (reed pipes). The Chhau dance is performed by men and boys. Chhau dance is full of energy and strength. It is interesting to note that the entire body of the dancer is engaged as a single unit. This body language of the dancer has to be poetic and powerful.

Brita Dance (West Bengal)
Brita dance is one of the most popular folk dances of Bengal. Usually the barren women of the region perform the Brita dance to invoke the blessings of the Gods so that their wishes are fulfilled. Traditionally this dance is performed after a person recovers from a contagious disease like small pox.

Kali Naach is yet another popular folk dance of the region. The Kali dance is performed to invoke the blessings of Goddess Kali. While performing the Kali Naach, the performers wear a mask, purified by mantras and dances to the accompaniment of a sword.

Dalkhai (Orissa)
'Dalkhai' dance is a popular folk dance among the women folks the tribal people of Sambalpur, Orissa. Dalkhai Dance is performed during the time of festivals. In the Dalkhai dance the men usually play the musical instruments. Chaiti Ghora is a dummy horse version of the Dalkhai dance and is popular in the fishing communities. The performers of this dance style are generally men.

Goti Puas (Orissa)
Goti Pua is yet another popular folk dance of east India (Orissa). The credit of popularizing this folk dance largely goes to Ramchandradeva, the Raja of Khurda, (Orissa). He was an enlightened ruler and a great patron of art and culture. It was due to his initiatives that the tradition of Goti Pua (boy dancers) began. It is interesting to note that the Odissi dance evolved from a curious amalgamation of both mahari and goti pua dance styles.

Usually a Goti Pua performance is ably supported by a set of three musicians, who play the pakhawaj, cymbals and harmonium. The boys do the singing themselves, though at times the group has an additional singer. A goti pua dance performance usually commences with Bhumi Pranam (acknowledgment to Mother Earth) and wraps up with Bidahi Sangeet, a farewell song and dance item. The whole Goti Pua performance lasts around three hours.