DANCES OF ASSAM

Tribes

Dances

Assamese

Bihu, Bou Nach, Behula,

Plain Kacharis

Pai Majai,

Sattras

Sattras, Nadubangi

Rabha

Baikhu, Hussari, Ligang, Pharkanti

Bodo

Pardai, Bagrumba, Sikhla,Bardaichikhla

Deodhani

Deodhani

Sattras

Ankia Nat

Karbis

Banjar-Kekan, Nimso-Kerung

Mising

Porag

Sonowal Kacharis

Sonowal

Tiwas or Lalung

Sagra Misawa, Barat-Puja

Dimasas

Rajini Gobra

Adivasi

Jhumura

Bihu

Bihu is one of the most colorful folk dances of India. The dance is an integral part of the Bihu festival celebrated to mark the advent of spring and the Assamese New Year. Bihu ushers in the seedtime and also the season of marriage. In fact the festival had its roots in some earlier fertility cult. This preoccupation with fertility, both vegetal and human is reflected in the songs and dance with their overly erotic movements and expressions depicting the joys of spring and youth. In essence, the Bihu dance is an expression of youthful exuberance and vigour. Amidst nature’s pristine beauty, youths perform this dance accompanied by songs of erotic sentiment, virtile beating of drums called Dhol, soft strains of Pepa made buffalo horns and manjire, tokka (bamboo clappers) and many more indigenous musical instruments. The dance has been noted for maintaining authenticity and at the same time displaying the traditional Assamese handlooms and handicrafts in their glory and beauty by the dancers.

Pai Majai

This dance belongs to the plain Kacharis of Assam. The dance is performed as thanks giving to God after a good harvest. All the people irrespective of sex and age participate in this dance.

Sattriya

During the early 16th Century, dance and music flourished in the Sattras, an institution founded by great Vaishnava Gurus. This highly ritualistic form of dance later came to be known as the Sattriya. Sattriya is a devotional classical dance form, which contains both the “Nritta” and Nrittya” aspects.

Jhumura

Jhumura dance is a pure dance sequence with intricate rhythmic patterns. This dance depicts the Gopas descriptions, their anger and frenzy when their women folk deserted them to join Lord Krishna. The dance is divided into three parts and is more depended on movement rather than spoken words.

Deodhani

Deodhani is another dance of the Deoris. A Deodhani dancer is an unmarried woman and devotee of goddess Padma. She, while dancing before the deity, keeps her hair loose and dresses like a female warrior. She dances to the accompaniment of big drums known as Joidhol and Cymbals with various gestures of hand and intricate footwork. As the dancer rises to a crescendo, she loses her senses and becomes unconscious. It is believed that at this stage she is in the grip of a supernatural power. As she regains her senses she continues to sing the last portion of the songs describing how ‘Behula’ gave back life to Lakhindra. It may be mentioned that other groups, both tribal and non-tribal have similar shamanistic dances like the Deodhani associated with the more Puja ceremony.

Bardaichikhla

Bardaichikhla is one of the most colorful dances of the Bodo tribe of Assam. The term Bardaichikhla is “Bar” means storm “dai” means water and “Chikla means girl. So this dance performed girls depicting storm and rain with the intention to welcome monsoon. The dance is performed to the accompaniment of Kham (Big Drum), Sifung (flute), Charinda (an indigenous string instrument) and Cymbal. The dances play Khonjari with one hand and scarf in the other. The hair is kept loose. This dance takes different patterns or formations like circular, horizontal and parallel.

Bagrumba

Bagrumba is another dance form of the Bodos, the largest tribal community of Assam. Young women assemble somewhere in the neighborhood after the day’s hard labour for merry-making, singing and dancing in gay abandon. Holding the ends of colorful scarves hung round their necks, the dancers move forward and backward with alternate footsteps to the accompaniment of Kham (drum) and Sifung (flute). The dance begins in horizontal lines but takes a circular pattern later on. The special features of the dance like harmonious jerks of the waist, graceful forward and backward swinging of the body and wrist makes it if fascinating to the beholders.

Baikhu

This particular dance is a part of their Baikhu festival, the core of the occasion is the worship and sacrifices offered to ancestors, and gods and goddess and it lasts for a week. In this dance form, young men and women wearing their new clothes dance forming two rows facing one another, clasping the waist or the neck is forming each line. Various native instruments like Drum, Cymbals, and Karhanal etc accompany the dance and song. Underlying the whole of Baikhu festival and dance is the desire for welfare of the community, beasts and crops.

Hussari

The Hussari is a band of young boys who dance and singing during their festival. In this dance, they form circles while singing and dancing. The male dancers move in a shuffling manner, with a leader in the middle, who starts the songs while the others take up the refrain with musical instruments, like small drums, split-bamboo clappers, small cymbals and horn-pipes are in use. It is the custom to first dance and sings in the yard of the village Namghar, then visit houses of respectable and old persons. In some villages they consider it ill boding for the person at that are the Hussari dancers dance for the last time, therefore they sing and dance for the last time in same field.

Ligang

Misings observed their seed sowing festival known as Ali-ai- Ligang or Ligang for short. The ceremonial Ligang dance commences from noon. Here boys and girls with their new clothes and flowers in their hair dance in a ring at every house starting from the eastern most house in the village. This Ligang dance is purely religious and mimetic, representing sowing of seeds, planting, reaping and threshing of paddy etc. Food and drinks are offered to all and the dance later spreads to the fields and riverside.

Banjar-Kekan

Of these many dance forms of the Karbis of the Karbi Anglong Hill, perhaps the most important are those performed on the occasion of Chomangkan, the elaborate death ceremony, which is also the one of the biggest festivals. Banjar-Kekan is a dance in which specially decorated bamboo poles (banjar) are displayed. It is a dance in which only young men take part.

Pharkanti

Another important set of ritualistic dances is performed by the Rabhas on the occasion of the death ceremony called ‘Pharkanti’. In the colorful dances the performers carry swords and shields. Peculiar musical instruments made of wood and bamboo, which are called ‘Manselenka’ and ‘Badidika’ and which have clapping devices, feature in many of these dances.

Sonowal

The most important dance of the Sonowal Kacharis is performed with the singing of haidang song, in which men dressed in flowing robes dance with gentle movements holding peacock feathers in their hands.

Sagra Misawa

A truly imposing dance of the Tiwas of the hills and the adjoining areas is performed on the occasion of the Sagra Misawa festival. This is the spring festival and the bulk of the songs and dances reflect the spirit of spring youth and love.

Barat-Puja

Some colorful dances of the plains. Tiwas are associated with the Barat Puja. In one of such dance a peculiar instrument called ‘Sarailee’ a bamboo and wood affair with bird and animal motifs and clapping device has an important place.

Rajini Gobra

The Dimasa of North Cachar Hills has ritualistic dances associated with ceremonies like Rajini Gobra. The pathri oracle is supposed to dance with the help of heavenly power. It is another interesting Dimasa dance performed to welcome and honor visitors to the village. The dance is slow and proceeds for a long time with cyclic movements.