Assam Dance History
Assam Dance is one of the Indian classical dances, also known as Sattriya Nritya. The word Sattriya derived from the word ‘Sattra’. In ancient India, the dance practiced within the compounds of a Sattra due to religious reasons. Later, in the 15th century the great Vaishnavism saint Srimanta Sankardev, the founder of Vaishnavism in Assam revised the dance and brought it as a living tradition of Vaishnavas. The Academic research of the dance, the classical rigidity and certain principles of the Assam dance, which made one of the eight classical dance forms of India.
Origin of Assam Dance:
Shrimata Shankaradeva, the great saint of Vaishnavism lived between 1449-1568 AD, introduced this classical dance during his period. Mainly the concept of the Assam dance was for the propagation of the Vaishnava faith. As a result, the classical dance of Assam became a part in Vaishnavism.
Ankiya Naat, an old form of Assamese one-act play, devised by Sankardeva and created sattriya Nritya. The sathriya Nritya generally performed as a passion to the dancers. Almost 500 years, the sattriya Nritya performed in Sattras, Which brought widely recognized in the society.
The Dance Performance:
The dance performs on the ritual celebrations and on special occasions. Before the first half of the 19th century, Sattriya Nritya performed in Sattras on the special occasions, but the second half of the 19th century the dance has glorious change. Such are the Classical dance transformed from the monastery to the highly sophisticated stage. In the early days, the dance performed with highly ritualistic manner within the walls of Sattars. Although the male dancers adopted this Classical dance and no space for women at the beginning of the evolution of the dance. was adopted by only male dancers. Since the modern period, the female dancers also performing Sattriya Nritya as equal to the male dancers. In very early days only the male monks had the grip on this classical dance and perform it before the public in sattras to propagate Vaishnavism.
Mythological stories are the main theme of the Assam dance. So the artists perform the dance with the concept of the mythological teachings to the public to understandable in a proper way. The epics are well known to the people, so one can enjoy by watching at the dance. Traditionally male monks only performed Assam dance with the mythological concept on their daily rituals and on special festival celebrations. Today Men and Female also performing Assam dance on the stages and the theme stories of the dances have been changing a little bit.
The costumes of the classical Assam dance are very attractive. Probably, they made with silk which produced in Assam widely and woven the silk with local motifs. Due to the modernized society, the Male dancers wore the dhoti, chadar. The female dancers worn the woreri and Chadar. Both the female and male dancers use the Waistcoat during the performance.