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Top 15 famous dance forms of Odisha you must check out

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Hello folks !! As you know Odisha is widely famous for its art, culture and heritage not just only throughout the country but also abroad. Every ritual, every tradition, every ancient culture of it has a tremendous recognition. So if you are exploring about this state of culture and traditions, then my friend I must say your cultural tour is incomplete without knowing about the charming dance forms of Odisha.

Odisha has a glorious heritage of music and dance which acts a delight for all the people especially for the art and culture lovers. Every dance form has its own traditional significance and charm. All these folk dance, their music, their costumes, their moves bring an environment of joy and happiness among the people.

In this article you will get the list of top 15 famous dance forms of Odisha which will just blow your mind.

So let’s start !!

1. Ghumura Dance

Ghumura dance of Odisha

About Ghumura Dance

Ghumura of Kalahandi is one of the famous dance forms of Odisha. The word ‘Ghumura’ is basically derived from “Ghum-U-Ra”. ‘Ghum’ means a bowl like pitcher made up of soil or clay and having a thin face with big belly. ‘U’ means ‘Lord Siva’ and ‘Ra’ symbolizes ‘Raba’ or ‘Dhowni’ which means vibrating sound. The dress code resembles more like a tribal dance but the dance form being compared to similar to other dance forms of Odisha.

Origin of Ghumura Dance

This dance form was first originated in Kalahandi and Nuapada. The music of the Ghumura dance form is basically a war music that is being used during the war time to excite the soldiers with huge rage and courage. According to the Indian mythologists, this dance form is believed to be the favorite folk song of Ravan, the demon king of Lanka. Initially it wasn’t identified as an independent dance form as it was having a lots of derivatives from the other dance forms but as time went by, it has come to create its own identity with its own rules.

Places where it is mainly observed

This dance form was believed to be first performed in the waterway valley of Indravati and then it went on getting spread over the near by regions. You will also get some inscriptions of Ghumura dance form in the sun temple, Konark representing the exhibition of Ghumura dance in the bygone areas.

2. Chhau Dance

chhau dance of Odisha

About Chhau Dance

The word ‘Chhau’ is derived from the sanskrit word ‘Chaya’ which means shadow. This dance form comprises of performing martial arts, aerobics and athletics. The dance moves are performed ranging from a folk dance to a structured dance with religious themes found in Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism. The masks worn during this dance has its own importance as it conveys a lot of emotions and character.

Origin of Chhau Dance

This traditional dance form was first originated in the Muyurbhanj district of Odisha. It was discovered during the mock fights of Odia paikas (warriors) who had a style of fighting according to the flow of indigenous musical instruments. This dance form was discovered by the fusion of classical Hindu dances and the traditions of ancient regional tribes. It was believed that the Chhau dance brings people from a socio-economic backgrounds to a pure and religious spirits.

Places where it is mainly observed

Apart from Odisha, Chhau dance is also performed in states like Jharkhand and West Bengal during the spring festival of Chaita parba and has four stages of development. During a Chhau dance not only the performers but the whole community of the region be a part of it.

3. Bagha Dance

bagha dance of Odisha

About Bagha Dance

Odisha’s bagha dance or also called the tiger dance is widely popular for its furious and unique looks that the artists are supposed to have. The artists paint themselves with yellow and black stripes resembling as a tiger and perform this dance form. Kala Bagha(instrumental tiger) and Chitri Bagha(painted tiger) are the two types of tigers that makes this theme of this dance form.

Origin of Bagha Dance

It initially started as a way of pleasing Maa Budhi Thakurani of Mahuriguda jungle. According to the myths, It is said that the goddess was very much fond of tigers and the villagers could get their wishes fulfilled through performing this dance. Before the dancers would use the headgear and the tail, those would be worshiped under their Goddess and prior to that several rituals would take place n the families.

Places where it is mainly observed

Bagha Nacha is mainly practiced in Brahmapur region of Odisha. Apart from that, it is also performed in Binka, Sonepur of Subampura district and the Ganjam district. It is performed in the month of Chaitra.

4. Gotipua Dance

gotipua dance of Odisha

About Gotipua Dance

Talking about it’s derivation, ‘Goti’ means single and ‘pua’ means boy. Gotipua dance form is one the most unique dance form you will get in the list. The artists performing in this dance form are basically termed as the Gotipuas, who are boys of age group 6-14 years old who dress like female dancers and perform this art with huge determination just like any female dancer would do.

Origin of Gotipua Dance

This dance from has been performing in Odisha for many centuries. The classical and most famous dance of Odissi owes its origin to the Gotipua dance. Even though the Gotipua dance is relevant to the Odissi style but it varies in its technique, costumes and presentation. Around the sixteenth century, with the decrease of the Mahari artists, these artistes appeared in Odisha. This was done under the reign of Bhoi ruler Rama Chandra Dev, author of the Bhoi administration.

Places where it’s mainly observed

Gotipua dance is performed in almost all the rituals and celebrations in Puri.

5. Dhan Dance

dhan dance of Odisha

About Dhan Dance

The name derived from an instrument named ‘dhap” in this dance form. Unlike the previous dance forms, here both men and women can take part. Mostly, unmarried men and women perform this dance form. Men of one town hit the dance floor with women of another town which really takes the theme of this dance form to a next level. All the towns of the district take an interest in the exhibition together in harmony and agreement.

Origin of Dhan Dance

Dhan folk dance is an old adivasi conventional dance of the clans of Odisha. It was first originated by the Kandha tribe of Western Odisha. This folk dance is mostly performed during the weddings where all the people take part in this dance form. The main objective behind this is to please the Mother Earth to bless the newly married couple.

Places where it’s mainly observed

This Sambalpuri folk dance is generally performed by the Kandha clan of Kosal district.

6. Odissi Dance

odissi dance of Odisha

About Odissi Dance

The list of the most famous dance forms of Odisha would be incomplete without mentioning the widely popular dance form, the Odissi dance. Over the centuries, this has been developed under 3 schools namely Mahari, Nartaki and Gotipua (which we discussed earlier). Mahari has its roots from the temples where women who were attracted to the deities of the temple would dance. Then comes the Nartaki which was performed in the royal courts. Lastly, Gotipua where young boys would dress like girls and dance. A normal Odissi dance style comprises of Mangalacharana, Batu Nrutya, Pallavi, Abhinaya & Moksha.

Origin of Odissi Dance

This unique classical dance form which is originated from the temples. The foundations of Odissi are present in Natya Shastra which is an ancient Hindu Sanskrit book of performing arts. There are 108 basic dance units in the Shashtra and all are identical to Odissi. Natya Shastra is attributed to the ancient scholar Bharata Muni, and its first complete complication is dated between 200 BCE and 200 CE but is estimated to vary between 500 BCE and 500 CE. The dance and performance clearly states that this ancient text are a form of expression of spiritual ideas, virtues and the essence of scriptures.

Places where it’s mainly observed

Odissi being the glory of Odissa all around the globe, it is practised and performed in all the regions of Odissa.

7. Changu Dance

changu dance of Odisha

About Changu Dance

This dance form gets its name from the ‘changu’ drum which is an essential part of this dance form. Like the dhan dance, changu dance is also performed by the unmarried people of the town. The men will be the vocalists or the artists and the ladies will be dancers. All the developments are synchronized with the beats and the singing rhythm and overall the people throughout the town really enjoy this dance form.

Origin of Changu Dance

The Changu folk dance is very much essential to the ancestral way of life in Odisha. It is originated from the eastern province of Odisha by the Bhuyan tribe. It is believed to be a socially acceptable platform for the meeting of the eligible bachelors of the area as the dancers are supposed to be unmarried. It is also considered as a central event in many other occasions or festivities, like harvests.

Places where it’s mainly observed

Being the pride of the tribal communities of Odisha, this dance form would be observed in all the regional tribal communities of Odissa which would be almost one-fourth of the total population.

8. Ranapa Dance

ranapa dance of Odisha

About Ranapa Dance

The word Ranapa means ‘stilt’. So in the Ranapa dance form, the dancers stand upon the stilts and with proper balance and deliver an amazing dance. Ranapa dance form is mainly performed by the young boys of the town during the festivals of Dola Jatra and Giri Govardhan Puja. They wear anklets which produce very pleasant jingling sounds and together they sing songs about the childhood days of Lord Krishna. Overall, this dance form glorifies huge artistic skills you can’t get over it without appreciating.

Origin of Ranapa Dance

The history is filled with example of wars, which brave sons of the soil bravely fought. The “Kalinga war” was a case of exemplary bravery that the people of Odisha fought against Ashoka powerful army in the third BC. Emperor Kharavela established his loyalty by defeating and establishing his state in large parts of India. This dance forms was gradually originated from these wars to showcase the spirit of the martyred soldiers.

Places where it’s mainly observed

This is hugely performed by the residents of the Ganjam district of Odisha.

9. Karma Dance

karma dance of Odisha

About Karma Dance

The word Karma or Karam actually implies destiny in the Kosli language of the Sambalpur area. The tribal people would hold each others’ waists and dance in the rhythm of music welcoming the spring and forming a circle through their movements around a tree that is venerated as Karma. After the dance people would also clean the tree with milk and rice as a mark of respect.

Origin of Karma Dance

Karma dance form was originated from the Indian region of Jharkhand which is situated in Bihar state. Gradually with time, this dance started being practised in Odisha also. This dance form is performed prior to the celebration of Karma puja before or during the winters. The Karma dance is believed to be a worship to the Karma devta. All the people taking art in the dance form tend to worship and satisfy the Karma devta so that their God would shower gifts of love over them. Karma devta is worshiped as the bearer of their destiny.

Places where it’s mainly observed

You can hugely observe the Karma folk dance in states like Jharkhand, Madhya pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and also many other areas of the nation. In Odissa, this folk dance is mainly performed in the western parts.

10. Jodi Sankha Dance

jodi sankha dance of Odisha

About Jodi Sankha Dance

The word Jodi Sankha particularly means Double Conch. This shows a pure and beautiful representation of the rural music. All the dancers participating in the Jodi Sankha dance would be wearing colorful costumes and performing according to the music played. While blowing the conch, the artists display harmony between the inflection of the conch. Apart from the Badya and Sankhya, some other instruments like Mahuri and Changu baja are also used for the perfect formation of the melody in the dance form.

Origin of Jodi Sankha Dance

From the ancient times, Jodi Sankha dance form was originated from the tribal community of the Ganjam district of Odissa. The dance form is believed to be having its fold divinity as sound produced from the blowing of the conch is part and parcel of every religious activity. The movements in the dance forms are mainly various poses in martial art that artistically conveys the essence of our culture. 

Places where it’s mainly observed

It is a very popular folk dance in the Ganjam district. The performers of this folk dance have a huge recognition both nationally and internationally. These are performed in almost all religious functions like marriages and processions.

11. Dalkhai Dance

dalkhai dance of Odisha

About Dalkhai Dance

It is the most famous folk dance in the Western Odisha and the term ‘Dalkhai’ is means women love. The men shout the word ‘Dalkhai Bo!’ at the beginning and end of each stanza sung in the dance. The performers of this folk dance showcase the romantic tales of Radha and Krishna from the Hindu sages, Mahabharata, Ramayana and portrayal of nature. The most important fact to know about this folk dance is that this is continuously performed for 36 hours at one time.

Origin of Dalkhai Dance

Dalkhai dance originates it’s form from the Sambalpur district of the East Indian state of Odisha. It is the most popular dance form of the Western part of Odisha. This dance begins on Saptami and finishes with the Dashami of Durga Puja. This is mainly performed in festivals like Bhaijunti, Phagun pani, Nuakhai, Dusshera, Dalkhai and Durga puja.

Places where it’s mainly observed

Usually young women from Binjhal, Kuda, Mirdha, Sama and some other tribes of Sambalpur, Balangir, Sundargarh, Bargarh and Nuapada districts participate in this dance. 

12. Chaiti Ghoda Dance

chaiti ghoda dance of Odisha

About Chaiti Ghoda Dance

‘Chaiti’ refers to the chaitra month of the year that is March to April. Apart from the musical accompanies the performance team includes a male and female character. The Rauta is the main character of the mythology who is a male singer cum commentator in the folk dance and the female character is Rautani, wife of Rauta who acts as his co-singer and dancer. Over all the folk dance is created comprising of both dance and role-play having both melody songs and cuff dialogues.

Origin of Chaiti Ghoda Dance

This folk dance is performed by the fishermen community of the Odisha. There is a small story behind it. It is said that when Lord Rama was finding difficult to cross a river the Keot fishermen were actually the ones who helped him to do so and in return Lord Rama gifted them a horse. In respect to this tale, the dance form was originated

Places where it’s mainly observed

This folk items is connected with the Sakti cult of coastal Odisha confined to the people of Kaibarta caste only. 

13. Keisabadi Dance

keisabadi dance of Odisha

About Keisabadi Dance

The dance form is mainly performed by the men of that particular region with sticks in their hand and after every verse of the song they would yell ‘haido’ with huge energy. The main theme of the songs and dance moves in the Keisabadi dance form represents the romantic tales of Radha and Krishna. The performers would be using a two-feet long stick which is said to be ‘badi’ in Odia language as a dance prop.

Origin of Keisabadi Dance

This dance form had its initial presence from the Sambalpur region of Odisha. The songs in this Keisabadi folk dance are in a native language called Kosli which is a neighborhood language of Sambalpur. Engravings of the dancers and musicians found on the walls of the ancient temples speak about various dance forms. Keisabadi dance form has its roots in mythology also as the mainstay.

Places where it’s mainly observed

Keisabadi dance can be hugely observed in the Sambalpur region of Odisha.

14. Paika Dance

paika dance of Odisha

About Paika Dance

Basically this dance form is a war dance where the performers would wear colourful turbans and dhotis just the way our ancient soldiers use to wear and come up to the stage with swords and shields in their hand. One group would be the attacking group and the other would be the defensive group. Both the groups would together perform such a war dance your eyes cannot get over it.

Origin of Paika Dance

It is said that this type of dance form was performed by the people known as Paikas in ancient times. Elaborating it’s meaning paikas were the group of peoples or soldiers who served their lives for the safety of the kingdom. During the festival of Dussehra, all the Akhadas celebrate their annual festivals and display traditional gymnastics, acrobatics during the various village-groups competitive performances. 

Places where it’s mainly observed

You will hugely observe this dance form in the Khurda district of Odisha. Apart from Odisha you will also get to observe this dance form in states like Bihar and Jharkhand.

15. Daskathia Dance

daskathia dance of Odisha

About Daskathia Dance

Being famous throughout many regions is because Daskathia is a very unique dance form in it’s own way. The main reason behind it is that it is not only a folk dance form but also a play or in local language called as ‘Natya’. The people performing this dance form narrate the tales of Lord Shiva and his incarnations as Rudra, Hara, Mahadeva, Shankar, Bholanath, and so forth. Along with that legendary tales of Lord Vishnu, Ganesh, Durga. and Kali are also narrated in this dance form. People watching not only enjoy the dance form but also get to know about different stories about their Gods and Goddesses.

Origin of Daskathia Dance

Originally, the performers for Daskathia dance were the low-caste Hindu community people. However with time it’s recognition increased and the people belonging to all other higher castes such as Kshatriyas and Brahmins also started participating in it. One person who leads is called Gahana/Gayaka and one performer follows, called Palia. The performance is usually a form of ballad singing

Places where it’s mainly observed

The Daskathia dance form is performed by the local or travelling performers throughout the state. So you can observe this folk dance anywhere in the regional areas of the state during ‘Jatras’ which refers to fairs.

So this was all about the top 15 famous dance forms of Odisha. As you may have analyzed every dance form, its melody, its performance, its costume designs, its history, its origin has its own significance and every other dance form is different and unique in its own way. That is the main reason why without exploring the traditional dance forms of Odisha your cultural tour of Odisha would stay incomplete. These folk dance forms makes Odisha to be known for its art, culture and heritage. So if you found the article productive enough or you want to share any feed back to us don’t miss out on sharing your views down in the comment section.

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