Some interesting facts about Chhau

Traditional Indian dances are some of the most complex dance forms in the world. At Tata Sky Dance Studio, we are proud to present dance forms from various parts of our country. Today, it’s a not-so-well-known dance from the eastern Indian states. Chhau is a semi-classical masked dance form performed in Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. It is known as Purulia Chhau in Bengal, Seraikella Chhau in Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj Chhau in Odisha.

1. Chhau is a mixture of folk dance and structured dance based on religious themes

Chhau
Image Courtesy:
Wikipedia

2. Chhau is performed during the Spring Festival of Chaitra Parva and the whole community participates in the event. Purulia Chhau is usually performed during the Sun Festival in Bengal

Chaitra Parva Chhau
Image Courtesy:
Wikipedia

3. The Purulia and Seraikella styles usually have no ritual meaning. They are mainly for community celebration and entertainment. These styles use masks to differentiate characters. They combine martial art movements with dance – using mock combat movements and the gait of animals and birds

Purulia and Seraikella Chhau
Image Courtesy:
Wikipedia

4. Mayurbhanj Chhau does not use masks except when the dancers are first introduced. This gives practitioners of the Mayurbhanj style more freedom of movement

Mayurbhanj Chhau
Image Courtesy:
Mayurbhanj Chhau

5. The Chhau dance has been placed on UNESCO’s ‘Intangible Heritage’ list. Purulia Chhau also finds its place on UNESCO’s ‘geographical indicators’

Chhau Dance
Image Courtesy:
gaatha.com

6. The traditional Chhau masks are handmade by artists from the Sutradhar community

Traditional Chhau
Image Courtesy:
gaatha.com

7. Chhau was traditionally performed by men at night. 

Sutradhar Chhau
Image Courtesy:
gaatha.com

8. The akhada or open space becomes the stage. The dance is performed to folk music played on the mohuri (the reed pipe) and the shehnai. They are accompanied by a variety of drums including the dhol, the dhumsa, and the kharka

Shehnai Chhau
Image Courtesy:
gaatha.com
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