(Last Updated on : 10/11/2010)
Contemporary Orissa has a proud cultural heritage that arose due to the intermingling of three great religious traditions - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The culture of the Adivasis (the original inhabitants of India) is also an integral part of modern Orissan heritage. These tribal communities have given rise to different folk dances, among which, the famous ones are given below:
Pala is widely performed in Orissa and a very famous performance associated with the cult of `Satyapir`. People from Orissa believe strongly behind the theme of Pala. It is said that this dance originated at the time of the Muslim-Mughal period. It was in this period that the assimilation of the `Satyanarayan` of Hindu pantheon with Pir of Muhammadanism, developed into a synthetic & a mixed cult known as `Satyapir`. As a part of consequences of this action, the Hindu worshipers became the disciples of the Muslim guru called as Fakir and adopted the worship pattern of the respected Hindu deities and vice versa.
The entire performance of the Pala is to evoke the deity of Satyapir, intended for the well being of the people. It is a group performance consisting of five or six persons and is a very exciting play to watch. Here, the `mridanga` and the cymbals are used as an accompaniment to the music, whereas the rest of them help the chief singer known as `Gayaka`, to sing the songs and explain the meaning of various references from the play, to the audience.
Spark of knowledge, sharpness of intelligence, oratory skills and memory power are put to a severe test when two well-matched groups challenge each other in a `Pala` competition. Here, the drummer performs his skill by his fingers trying to relate humorous stories to please the audience. Even the conversation dialogues between the singer and one of the attendants are carried out, where it diminishes the monotony of long speeches and jugglery of words in the songs. Therefore, Pala can be said as originated to build up Hindu-Muslim unity in society.
`Daskathia` has originated from the Ganjam District. As, it got wide popularity; it spread to all other parts of Orissa. The word `Dasa` means a devotee & `Katha` refers to wooden pieces arranged in tune for the prayer of the devotee.
Danda Nata is performed during the festival observed by the Kaibartas in the month of Chaitra from the full moon day to eight day of Vaisakha. The festival is celebrated to show an honor of their caste deity Vasuli Devi. The participants in a Danda Nata invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva to get blessed by a child, to fulfil certain ambition, to get rid of sickness, seeking happiness in life, good harvest or even peace and happiness to all the communities.
Prahlad Nataka is considered as a form of traditional theatre, which is very famous in the region of Orissa, however, this folk art form is originated in Ganjam District. The art masters in the art theater still perform this art form. 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. And the actual performance involves music, and vigorous acting and dances. In the Prahlad Nataka, the textual part contains overall 120 songs, which were written by Gopinath Parichha, who was one of the members of the court of Raja Ramakrishna Chhotray of Jalantar. 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 frequently. The performers at times use stylized gestures & coordinated movements. The characters wear distinctively colourful & attractive costumes with make-up on their face. The theme of the play is an old story of Bhakta Prahlad. A young boy usually plays the role of Prahlad with loud voice. The entire story of Lord Narsimha`s entry and the death of Hiranakashyapu is enacted & presented to the viewers with a beautiful blend of dance and music.
Bharat Lila is an example of presenting the stories from epics with expressive acts & dances. It is the most colourful presentation of folk dance performed & prevalent in Ganjam District of Orissa. Its theme is taken from epic Mahabharata. The small incident of Subhadra Parinaya (wedding of Subhadra), a beautiful part of the epic Mahabharata is the primary theme of the performance. It is shown how Lord Krishna appears in the play & does the role of mediator between Arjuna and Subhadra and helps to precede the love slowly progressing to a positive end.
Ghudiki Nabaranga Nata
This art form is a folk play of Orissa. It is performed in the presence of various musical instruments. In some parts, it is also termed as by the name `Dhudiki Nabaranga Nata.` The word `dhudiki` refers to the local instrument like drum used during the performance. The performance involves around 8 to 10 actors, who perform different skits ranging on many issues. It is played for duration of 3 to 4 hours. No proper constructed stage is required for this art form, since basically, it is a village originated art.
The `Dalkhai` is an eye-catching dance performance by the tribal women from the Sambalpur district of Orissa. The festival of `Dusserah` is the occasion of performing Dalkhai, which is the most popular folk-dance of western Orissa.
Jumur or Jumu Nach
For more than a hundred years of settlement of the 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. This dance is very much prevalent in all tea garden surrounding areas & performed by girls and boys together to make the people relax while working. However, 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.
It is a folk dance of the Bodo community, which is very rich in cultural wealth. It has many folk dances to boast about their culture, but among all the dances the best and the most attractive dance is the Bagurumba dance.
Deodhani is danced as a solo or group performance. In the group performance, it essentially includes 3 or 4 females and it is performed on the occasion of the worship of Devi Manasa or Maroi. It is actually based on a mythological reference, where a wife had to dance before the goddess Manasa to get her husband`s life back. So basically, this dance form depicts the process of worship of Devi Manasa. The dancers generally wear Mekhela in Muga & red blouse as their dress combination. With it they also wear different traditional jewelry, ornaments and 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.
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 rotation of the 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 the Deodhanis. Such kind of dances strengthens the belief & faith of the people.
Dhepa Dhuliya Dance
Dhepa Dhuliya Dance is another form of traditional folk art of Darrang region of Orissa. In this dance performance, two to four performers play the Dhepadhol and it is specially to generate a unique sound, while beating it.