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Dance and Rhythms

“If music be the food of love Play it on” these wonderful lines of Shakespeare will come true with is tribal sojourner’s, they are so attached to the rhythm they create. To list a few of their celebrations are as follows:- Bansuri, Arbansi, Sahnai, Madanvari, Singa, Sankh Mandar, Dhol, dhak, Dhamsa, Nagara, Damama, Karha, Tasa, Jurinagra, Visamdhanki, Thapchanchu,Kartal, Jhanjh,Thala, Manjhira, Ghanta are the musical instruments and the rhythm patterns are based to the folk, they are Akhariya, Domkach, Dohari,Janani,Udasi, Pawas, Jhumta, Pratkali. To name some of the famous folk dancing styles here are Paika Chaw Jadur Karma Nachni Natua Matha Sohari and Lurisayro.

Jharkhandi music does not always necessarily play the role that is purely entertainment. More often than not, they have some ritualistic and social significance attached to them. Sometime they commemorate some tribal incidence of tribal significance and sometime they provide social commentary. In fact, music has often acted as the voice of protest against oppression and has worked as important political tools. However, more often the themes are religious and draw from the mythological canon of tales and stories as subjects of representation.

Every ethnic community has the blood of tribal memory circling their hearts. Today the Adivasis of Jharkhand are coming back, not to the despair that has marked their recent history, but to the strong sounds of drums, flutes, cymbals and voices raised in song.

When the tribes of Jharkhand gather to celebrate a very special occasion, whether at home or in village society, they make music and dance to its rhythm. Maybe it makes them happy because it brings that long memory back, into the framework of real life.

It does not matter whether you understand the language or the lyrics of the song that the; sing - ekhariya damckach, orjapi, jhumar, fagua, veer seren, jhika, philsanjha, adhratiya or bhinsariya, doad, asadi, jhumti, or dhuria or other important folk-songs - you will recognize that they yearn to carry ancient memory and culture into their lives today.

Percussion, many kinds of percussion, along with a variety of musical instruments are used by Jharkhand tribes to accompany their singing and dancing. The Nagara, made of wood and stretched animal hide played with drumsticks. Interestingly nagaras sound the best in summers, in winter they lose their vibrant beat. The cylindrical Mandar, played by hand. Dhak, dhamsa, damana, Madan bhewri, ananad lahari, tuila, vyang, ar-bansi, shankh, karha, tasa, thala, ghanta, kadri and gupi jantra are some quaint instruments played.

Dance forms echo warrior-like movements of battles fought long ago, for the men. Observations of animal and bird behaviour were also blended into the dancing, sometimes light and airy, sometimes heavy and solemn, as the mood demands. Everyday activities of womenfolk -working in the fields, in the forests, in their homes, all reflect themselves in dance forms like the timeless Chhau, which requires agility, suppleness and skilful hand movements. The Seraikela school of Chhau is held during the Sun Festival. It is influenced by the principles of Bharatiya Natya Shastra but the theme is based on folk-lore, nature and mythology. The choreography follows Odissi in composition and execution.


Other well-known dances of tribal communities in Jharkhand include festive dancing such as - Sarhul /Baha, where sal and mohua flowers are used ceremonially; the Dansai & Sorhai where the youth sing and dance through the night of karam; Maghi Puja, an important festival of the Munda tribe; Sarhul in which 'shalai' the flower of the sal tree is offered to the gods, with the flower as a symbol of brotherhood; Tusu, the harvest festival, celebrated mainly by unmarried girls. A conopy is ade of light wood and covered with thin tissue paper. The pyramidal shaped structure, edged with tinsel and decorated with painted/printed images of local deities (sometimes even film stars), is carried by village woman-chanting songs along the way-to the nearest water resource and immersed in it. Bazra Puja, when Bazra or 'millet' is ready for harvesting; and the Bhagta Parab or the worship of Budha Baba.

Most of the folk dance around Jharkhand is accompanied by traditional music played by the musicians using some traditional musical equipment.

Some of the very famous Jharkhand dances are as follows: 

Paika: is one of the very famous dance forms of Jharkhand. In fact, it is a dance form where martial arts are mixed with some other dance steps. This is why the dance form is only performed by the male members of the society. Paika of Jharkhand is a very interesting dance form of the region. It offers a thrilling entertainment to your eyes as the men risk their lives to perform it. The dancers have to handle a sword in one hand and the shield in other. For protection, they are dressed with safety chest plates and head wears and bells are tied on their ankles. 

Paika in Jharkhand is accompanied by the melodious music of Narsingha, Shahnai, Bheir and the Dhak and Nagara drums. This folk dance of Jharkhand is performed for welcoming guests during various functions. 

The whole ambience during the performance of this dance form is very charming. The dancers wearing their colorful robes along with the local tribes create fascinating scenery. The dance adds more glaze to the festivities. 

Chhau: is one of the finest folk dances of Chhota Nagpur Plateau region. The folk dance is performed in various states that lie in this region such as West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand. The word Chhau is derived from the Sanskrit word Chhaya which implies shade, image, or mask. 

 of Jharkhand is a very beautiful dance form where the dancers cover their faces during the dance with a mask and it is this mask that attracts your attention towards the dance. Chhau is different from classical dance because in the latter dance form facial expressions are must, whereas in Chhau, it is the body movements including the neck and head gesture. In Chhau, the dancers use the mask and their body gestures to convey the stories. A commentator stands aside who not only narrates the whole story with dialogues but also sings the songs. During Chhau in Jharkhand, music is played using various instruments such as Nagara, Jhanj, Mohuri, Turi, Clude Dhol, Dhumsa, Flute, Bheri and Conch shells.


Over the years, this folk dance of Jharkhand has been classified into various forms but the most authentic and original version of the dance is available only in Jharkhand. The melodious music and the colorful dancers with their brilliant dancing skills intoxicate you so much that you do not feel like leaving the place before its completion. So if you like dancing and are always open to learn, then the best place to learn Chhauwould be in Jhrakhand where the original version is performed. Some of the very famous stories that have been performed through Chhau in Jharkhand are Ramayana and Mahabharata.  

Santhal: is a very popular folk dance of Jharkhand. It is a group dance performed by Santhal tribes of Jharkhand. This dance was performed by the Santhal tribes during all special festivals and occasions. This dance not only reveals the culture or traditions of the local tribes but also showcases the strength of unity. The main attraction of the Santhal dance in Jharkhand are the colorful costumes worn by the tribal people. The typical garments worn by men during the Santhal are dhoti and a turban but the main attraction is their body decoration with various species of flora. Since the Santhal are believed to be close to nature, they use natural things such as leaves, branches and flowers to do their make-up and design their clothes.

If you wish to witness the fun and frolic of Santhal dance at Jharkhand then do visit it during the spring season for it is during this season that the Santhals celebrate the spring festival where they perform the folk dance. The colorful environment of the festival is made more charming and attractive by the musicians who play the music on various folk instruments such as cymbals, pipes, flutes and drums. Moreover, the singers also put the right chord with the rhythm. After, the Bamboo folk dance of Assam and Mizoram, it is the Santhal dance of Jharkhand which is very popular among the tourists of north eastern region. Moreover, the Santhal dance would also help you in exploring the life style and culture of the Santhals.

Karma: is a very popular folk dance of India. Though the folk dance is performed in other states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, it can be enjoyed the best in Jharkhand. The folk dance is performed in the month of August during the Karma festival.

This folk dance of Jharkhand has derived its name from a tree named Karma which is considered sacred because people believe that it brings good luck and prosperity. Hence the Karma festival is nothing but a celebration for the plantation of this tree. Karma at Jharkhand seeks the participation of both men and women. The festival starts with the plantation of trees after which the dancers get into a circle and dance with their hands around each other's waists. While dancing, they pass on the branch of the tree to each other. 

After the branch of Karma gets a complete circle, it is washed with milk and rice. It is the belief of the local tribes that after these rituals, the branch should not touch the earth. After this, once again the branch is raised in between the dancers. 

During the Karma of Jharkhand, the men leap forward with the rapid roll of the drums whereas the women bend down with their feet moving to and fro with the beats of the music. The dance of Karma in Jharkhand is accompanied by the melodious music of folk music instruments such as Jhumki, Thumki, Chhalla and Payri. Various forms of Karma are performed in various regions. The two most popular forms of Karma in Jharkhand are Lahsua and Khare. This dance in Jharkand is performed mainly by Baigas and Gonds.


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