Folk Dances Of Orissa – Traditional Dances Of Orissa essay

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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. 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.

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