(Last Updated on : 22-08-2014)
of Mayurbhanj District
is one of the most vibrant dance-forms practised in this eastern Indian state
, which is immensely popular not only throughout the country but has also won international recognition. However, the origin of the term 'Chhau' is shrouded in mystery, though some people are of the view that Chhau is a derivation of the word 'Chhaya' or shadow. Colourful masks
are employed by the Chhau dancers of Mayurbhanj District during their dance performances and these masks are referred to as 'Chhau'.
Chhau dance might also have received its name from the Chhau mask. Some Chhau exponents and specialists claim that Chhau dance obtained its name from 'Chhaushree'. There exists yet another belief which states that Chhau has received its present name from the term 'Chhauni', which was the name of the camp during the time of military operation. The regional inhabitants of Mayurbhanj District feel that Chhau dance was displayed for the purpose of entertaining the Odiya warriors of the camp.
Illustrious rulers of Mayurbhanj involving Pratap Chandra Bhanjdeo and Maharaja Shriram Chandra Bhanjdeo had created the reputed 'war dance' and performed it during the year 1912 at Kolkata
, before the British emperor George V. This British ruler was filled with awe as he witnessed this famous cultural dance of Mayurbhanj District. This performance won a great deal of appreciation and praise from the journalists and the influential personalities during that point of time. The Mayurbhanj Chhau is characterised by the features of martial arts
, classical arts, traditional and folk arts
. The other essential elements of Chhau dance is motivated by the themes of Indian epics
, as well as tribal and folk elements which are woven into this dance form. 'Dhumsa', 'Chad Chadi', 'Dhol' and 'Mohuri' comprise the orchestra which is played during the performance of Chhau dance. Vocal music
accompanies the dance performance.
Six 'Topka' or 'Chalis' and 36 'uflis' make up the Chhau of Mayurbhanj District. The unique characteristic of Mayurbhanj Chhau is its involvement of as many as 200 dance item numbers, unlike any other regional dances of this Indian district or even any other dance form practised in portions of the world. 'Jamdeb', 'Mahadev
', 'Dandi' and 'Sabar Toka' are only a few of the numerable solo items which are a part of this splendid dance. The well-known group items of Mayurbhanj Chhau include 'Kailash Leela', 'Kirat Arjun
', 'Dhajatal', 'Bainshi Chori', 'Kelakeluni', 'Tamudia Krishna
' and 'Mayasabari'. Lord Bhairab
is the presiding deity of the Chhau dance of Mayurbhanj District. Currently, the Mayurbhanj Chhau has won international fame and utilizes the element of visual poetry
. Lyrical and dynamic style is the inherent theme of this kind of dance.