Folk Dances Of Orissa Types of Tribal and Traditional Dances Of Orissa

Folk Dances Of Orissa

Types of Tribal and Traditional Dances Of Orissa

Western Odisha is highly distinctive for multi-featured symptoms. Though it ispolitically not a special identity landscape orregion, stillthen it has it’s speciality from the socio-cultural aspects.Western Odisha is identical and unitary in view, comprises of the districts like Kalahandi, Nuapada, Bolangir, Sonepur, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Debgarh, Jharsuguda, Sundergarh, Boudh. Apart from this, as stated by the geologists and environmentalists, “The locality is filled with mines and minerals, floras and faunas with a developed modern agricultural output.”

Folk Dances Of Orissa - Traditional Dances Of Orissa. Apart from the classical Odissi dance, numerous folk dances are in vogue in Orissa. These were the ancient sources of popular entertainment in the rural areas. They are closely associated with fairs, festivals and religious ceremonies.

Folk dances in Western Odisha excludes themselves from the dances of the other parts of Odisha for it’s typicality. Dance as a form of art is not merely for pleasure, rather it is an act of the folkloric expression of the folks in Odisha, particularly in western Odisha. The dance gets involved with the folk song, music with multi dramatic and expressional effects, highly a reflection of their socio-economic structure. Merely considering the folk dance as a means of pleasure, passtime, merrimaking may never be sufficient, rather it has every strength of binding the people, their relations, cultures, costumes, traditions together. The transformation in form and representation of style in these folk dances are an integral part of the folk culture. This has been handed down from generations to generations with a transmissional, transformal and expressional mode.

Some of the famous folk dances of Orissa are described below:

Danda Nata Dance
Danda Nata Dance is the most ancient of all folk-dances of Orissa. It is a part of the mass culture of Orissa where Lord Shiva and his consort Gouri are propitiated. It is variously known as Jhamu, Yatra etc.

Danda literally means a staff and Nata means dance. Those who participate in Danda Nata are called 'Bhokta' (Devotees). For three days beginning from two days before Pana Sankranti, the Bhoktas walk on a bed of red-hot live charcoal (fire walking), stand on edged swords, pierce iron nails on their skin and tongues, as marks of their severe penance to draw the attention of deities to expiate them from all sins and bless them with boons.

Patua Dance
For the entire month of Chaitra, the village streets echo with the sound of Ghanta (Brass gongs) played by Ghanta Patuas. This ritual dance is closely associated with mother goddess, particularly Sarala. The traditional sevak community of the deities performs this ritual dance. They dress themselves as females. The deity is represented by Ghata (the sacred pitcher) which is placed over the head by the dancer to a fixed wooden stand. The Ghata is decorated with sandal paste, vermillion, and flowers. Balancing the Ghata on the head, the dancer dances with bare feet to the accompaniment of percussive instruments like Mardala (a variety of Pakhwaj) and (ghanta).

Kela Ketuni Dance
The Kelas are a nomadic class of people in Orissa. There are various groups in the community. Kela means 'Snakecharmer'. The Kela Keluni dance is performed in which Kela and his wife Keluni participates. The Kela plays a string instrument which is called Ghuduki'. The couple sings and dance. The Folk dance of the Keluni is fast in which hips and heads are swayed.

Ranapa Dance
Ranapa Dance is a traditional Odiya Dance which is prevalent in the cow-herd communities. Young boys of the community perform this dance during the festivals of Dot-Yatra and Giri-Govardhan Pooja. They wear anklets which produces jingling sound. They sing about the childhood days of Lord Krishna.

Chhow Dance 
This folk dance of Orissa has evolved out of the extant war dances of the area. Orissan Chhow has a large collection of over hundred dance forms. The traditional orchestra of Chhow consists of musicians and drummers. It is performed generally during the Chaita Parava. The Chhow dance grew up with royal patronage in the past. Now a day's people and government patronize it.

This is called Dummy Horse dance. The fishermen community of Orissa celebrates this annual festival of theirs from March to April. In this dance, a dummy horse is made with bamboo-strips and the frame is then covered with a coloured cloth. The head of the horse in wood is fixed to the frame. It is then painted with bright colours and is decorated with flowers. In a big cavity inside the horse frame, a dancer places himself and displays different galloping movements of a horse. Two more characters (Rauta and Rautani) appear on the stage and sing and dance with dummy horse dancer. The couple sings of mutual love. In a group of Chaitighoda dance, there are three dancers, a Jodinagara player, a Dhol player and a Mahuri player. The performance starts late at night and continues till morning.

Ghoomra Dance 
The folk dance is performed to the accompaniment of a drum. The earthern drum covered in the mouth with a skin of a reptile is called Ghoomra. It is a vibrant dance, performed by males only. Young men fix a ghoomra on the chest with strings around the body and beat the drums in unison and dance. The dancers wear their indigenous costume.

Mask Dances
In Orissa, there are three varieties of mask dances - human masks, divine masks and animal masks. All the mask dances are associated with religious festivals and religious processions. The masks are made of papier-mâché and are painted with bright colours.


Describing the ritualistic approach of the dance, it can be analysed that, the worshippers whether the male or the female get fast whole of the day without water, bring a sal tree or its branch from a nearby forest or locality, plant it at the centre. The priest plays it’s offering to the Karma deity for a good blessing and giving of good fortune. Then the younggirls and the male in Sambalpur region dance round the planted Sal tree holding one another’s hand and the neighbour’s waist get bend ina chained manner. This folk dance goes with their usual Karma folk song and the rhythemical pattern of stepping, bending, jumping, dwindling as synonyms to the music Madal (Drum) and other supported musical instruments.

Dalkhai is one of the important and popular folk dances of Western Odisha mostly performed in the districts like Bargarh, Sambalpur, Bolangir and Sonepur. It is very often said by the people that, “Dalkhai is Dalkhai” means it is an independent and exclusively a heart winning dance. It is also a religious based traditional folk dance linked to agriculture and fertility part of the aggragarian society. Dalkhai is said to become “the Goddess of Fertility” performed by the tribes like Mirdhas, Kondhs, Gonds, Binjhals etc. It is a common believe that, if Goddess Dalkhai gets satisfied than, there will be greenness in the world and simultaneously there will be good crop, good that food ultimately leads to a good life. 

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