Chhau Dance is a tribal dance in Bihar. There are so many art forms surviving in India. Many of these forms are not fully known in all parts of the country. Among them, the Chhau dance form is one. This is the traditional dance drama form that is prevalent in Eastern India.
Yet, there are three primary forms of Chhau. They are 1. Seraikella Chhau of Bihar. 2. Mayurbanj Chhau of Orissa. 3. Purlieu Chhau of West Bengal. The Seraikella Chhau was approved by UNESCO in 2010 as an intangible Heritage of India. So the three dance forms are called Chhau. The dance style is different according to their region’s culture and background tradition. Therefore the tribal dance chhau is a folk-based classical dance.
1.Seraikella Chhau Dance:
The Royal families patronized the Chhau dance. Among them, Raj Kumar Suvendra Narayan Singhdeo serviced to flourish the dance. Due to their services, the Chhau Dance is still in existence. These tribal dances are performed in the palaces of Seraikella, which belongs to Maharaja Aditya Pratap Singhdeo. He probably started the Chhau Chaitra Festival to encourage the Chhau dancers. The dance tradition changed by adding classic stories and music based on Rag by Bijay Pratap Singhdeo. Hence the dance form is close to classical dance and links with the folk and tribal dances of the regions.
Martial Art Influence on Chhau dance:
Martial art influenced Chhau dance. As a result, the dancers wore masks while performing. The show in Seraikella Chhau is the main element of the Chhau dance. These masks indicate the character of the performer. Mainly the dance is performed during the annual Chaitra Parva Festival to dedicate Ardhanareshwara as a prayer for the abundant harvest. Men from royal families only performed in Seraikella Chhau Dance; now, familiar people follow the tradition.
Seraikella Chhau Dance:
Seraikella Chhau Dance is a pure dance. There are no dialogues to employ and no clear storyline. But the dancers convey the story with intense feelings through their bodies and faces. The dancers perform the mythological stories of Hinduism.
The music composition for the dance themes comprises a large Kettledrum called Nagara, Dhol, which means barrel drum. Melodic ragas and classical music are employed during the dance performance. At the same time, dancers dance, and fol,k melodies are added to the dance to attract the spectators.
The tribal Chhau Dance themes are:
- HARA PARVATHI: This dance episode is before Kartikeya, son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi.
2. MAYUR NRITYA: This dance shows the peacock’s joy in the rainy season.
3. RADHA KRISHNA: In this dance, the dancers show the eternal love between Lord Krishna and Radha.
4. HANSA: The artist performs the movements of Swam while it is in water.
5. CHANDRABHAGA: It shows the background story of the creation of the Konark Temple in Orissa.
Some More Themes of Chhau Dance:
6. DURYODHANA URBHANGA: The theme of Mahabharata stories used in this dance. It shows the Goddess of fortune hiding to trouble Duryodhana.
7. SAGAR: It shows the joy and beauty of the sea and the dangerous, fascinating sight of the sea.
8. RATRI (NIGHT): The central theme of the dance is adopted from the sacred book Rig Veda, which is RATRISUTRA.
9. ARDHANARESHWAR: It shows the concept of the creator Lord Shiva, the universe’s father and mother.
10. EKALAVYA: The character from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. A great warrior Ekalavya learned archery, and even he did not care to give his Guru Dronacharya as Dakshina.
11. NABIK (Boat Man): In this dance, a man narrates the lifeboat story.
12. ARATI: The dancers perform the priests’ offerings to the deities in this theme.