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Updated March 12th, 2024 at 17:14 IST

All You Need To Know About Chhau, Eastern India's Traditional Folk Dance

Chhau dance manages to captivate audiences with its beauty, energy, grace, and storytelling prowess, ensuring that its legacy lives on for generations to come.

Know About Chhau Dance
Know About Chhau Dance | Image:Sangeet Natak Akademi
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When it comes to art, dance and music, no culture in the world is a match for India. From Bharatnatyam to Kathak, our traditional dance forms are as fascinating as they are beautiful. Chhau dance, originating from the eastern regions of India, is a form of warrior dance that combines elements of theatre, music, and acrobatics. Jharkhand Chief Minister Champai Soren recently announced that a Chhau dance academy will be set up in the state to promote the famous martial dance form.

For the unversed, this art form is performed by male dancers from families of traditional artists, trained under Gurus or Ustads. Known for its dynamic movements, colourful costumes, and use of indigenous drums like the dhol, dhumsa and kharka and the melody of the mohuri and shehnai, Chhau dance is a celebration of strength, grace, and storytelling. Here are its 3 distinct forms, divided by regions.

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Purulia Chhau

Purulia Chhau originates from the Purulia district of West Bengal and is characterised by its energetic and vigorous movements. Performers don elaborate masks and costumes depicting characters from Hindu mythology, folklore, and epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The dance is accompanied by traditional music, including drums, cymbals, and flutes, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere that transports audiences to a world of ancient legends and tales.

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Chaau dance | Image: Sangeet Natak Akademi

Seraikela Chhau

Seraikela Chhau hails from the Seraikela region of Jharkhand and is distinguished by its graceful and intricate movements. Unlike Purulia Chhau, Seraikella Chhau features minimalistic costumes and masks, allowing the focus to remain on the dancers' skillful footwork, graceful gestures, and expressive storytelling. The dance includes a wide range of themes, from mythological narratives to social commentary, performed with precision and finesse by highly trained dancers.

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Chhau dance | Image: Indian Govt

Mayurbhanj Chhau

Mayurbhanj Chhau, also known as Odisha Chhau, originates from the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha and is characterised by its acrobatic movements. Dancers perform intricate martial arts-inspired sequences, with flips, jumps, and spins to depict scenes of battle and conquest. The costumes in Mayurbhanj Chhau are elaborate and ornate, featuring intricate designs and vibrant colours that add to the visual spectacle of the performance.

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Published March 12th, 2024 at 17:02 IST

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