Tribal Dances in Odisha

Tribal dances are one of the attractions and cultural heritage of Odisha. Odisha, an eastern Indian state lying on the coast of Bay of Bengal, is home to 62 tribes. The tribal population in Odisha is proportionately high and constitutes 24% of the total populace of the state. Every tribe has its own unique dance, music, musical instruments, decorative articles and traditional attires. For tribal dance in Odisha, Dharua, Kisan, Oraon, Koya, Lanjia Saora, Santal, Dongaria Kandha and Lodha tribes are highly noticeable. Government of Odisha and several social organizations are putting in great efforts to preserve, promote and popularize the traditional art, craft, culture and heritage of these tribes. The colorful dances are suggestive of rich cultural wealth of the picturesque tribes.

Birli Dance of Dharua Tribe: Dharua tribe is numerically a small tribal group of Odisha mainly concentrated in the undivided Koraput district. They perform their dances wearing their traditional costumes during different festivals, rituals and ceremonies. ‘Birli’ is the principal dance form of Dharua tribe generally performed during the post harvest period in the month of January – February. Participated by men and women and mostly by the youths, this colorful and melodious dance is named after ‘Bamboo’ which provides livelihood to them.

Nuakhai Dance of Kisan Tribe: Kisan is numerically one of the major tribes of Odisha. They are largely concentrated in Sambalpur and Sundargarh districts. Agriculture is their mainstay. Their main festivals include Fagun, Sarhul, Karama and Nuakhai. Nuakhai is an agricultural festival mainly observed by the people of western Odisha. It observed on Panchami Tithi of the lunar fortnight in the month of Bhadrav. On the occasion of first eating of fruits and other agricultural crops, both male and female wearing new costumes perform dances with the rhythm of various musical instruments. Nuakhai is celebrated both at community and domestic level. After offering the Nua to the presiding deity, the eldest member of the family distributes Nua to other members of the family. After taking the Nua, all the junior members of the family offer regards to their elders and the elders bless their juniors and wish them long life, happiness and prosperity.

Karama Dance of Oraon Tribe: The Oraon is one of the major tribes of Odisha. They are mostly concentrated in Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Bolangir districts of the state. Karma and Jeth Jatra are main festivals. They usually perform this dance in front of the village dormitory. Groups of young villagers go to the jungle and collect branch of Karam tree and fix them in the center of the village and perform the dance. They worship trees, as it is their source of livelihood and pray to nature to keep their farm land green and ensure bumper harvest. Both the boys and girls wearing traditional costumes, participate in the dance.

Chaiti Parab Dance of Koya Tribe: The Koya tribe live in Malkanpur district of southern Odisha. The pastoral Koya tribe also practice settled cultivation and depend on non-timber forest produce collection for their livelihood. They perform dance followed by songs in different rites, rituals, festivals and social occasions, and also during leisure time. Chaiti Parab is performed in the month of February during the first eating of new fruits. The Koya organize their dance through adornment of traditional costumes with accompaniment of playing musical instruments like drum, bell fitted sticks and Jhumka.

Gotar Parab Dance of Lanjia Saora Tribe: Lanjia Saora is the primitive section of the Saora tribe. They are named ‘Lanjia Saora’ for the tail like lion cloth they put on. They are the hill dwellers found in Gunupur and Gumma area of Rayagada and Gajapati districts. They speak in their own Saora language. The Saoras are famous for their terrace cultivation. Round the year, they worship different deities and ancestors like Kitung, Balia, Rathua, Ayungang, Manduasum etc. Their festivities are always observed by dance and songs performed by the young folk dressed with their traditional costumes and attires. They perform ‘Gotar’ dance which is associated with their death ritual.

Salai Dance of Santal Tribe: Santal is a major tribal community of Odisha. They are concentrated in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Balasore district. They observe Nuakhai, Mahamare, Saharai and Karama festivals to appease their principal deities like Sing Bonga, Marangburu, Maneka, Majhi Bonga etc. Salai dance is performed during Saharai festival in the month of March and April when the Sal flower blossoms. They worship the Sal trees as they consider it as their source of livelihood and pray nature to ensure bumper harvest. It is generally performed in the month of January.

Pushunai Dance of Dongaria Kandha Tribe: Dongaria Kandha, a section of the Kandha tribe, is found in Kalyansinghpur block of Rayagada district of Odisha. Dongaria Kandha tribesmen live in the hilly areas of Niyamagiri hills. They are considered as one of the PVTGs of Odisha. Both male and female decorate themselves in varieties of ornaments during festive occasions. The Pushpunei dance is observed after harvesting of the crop. In this festival, the young boys and the girls of different villages sing and dance together to the tune of the harped circular drum (Dhap) and single membrane drum.

Chhau Dance of Lodha Tribe: Lodha, one of the PVTGs of Odisha, resides in Morada and Suliapada block of Mayurbhanj district. World famous Chhau dance of Mayurbhanj district has got a special place among all other folk dances of Odisha. It is a war dance and originally based on martial art. It has attached itself with Hindu mythology, religion and culture. The stories of Chhau dance not only are taken from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Purana, but also have included themes like national spirit, social problems, historical facts, natural beauty. According to its vigorous forms, Chhau dancer uses traditional musical instruments like Nagara, Dhol, Pakhawaj, Dhumasa, Turhi etc from which vigorous and high sounds are created.

Sarpha Dance of Santhal & Ho Tribe: Santhals and Ho are found in Central India, especially in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. They They belong to Munda Groups of Austro-Asiatic family. They are settled agriculturalist. They believe in various deities, ghosts and spirits. ‘Singbonga’ or ‘Dharam Devta’ is their supreme deity. They also worship Marangburu, the mountain which is considered a major source of their income. ‘Sohrai’ is one of the festivals in which they worship the bulls and cows. After the worship, the Sarpha dance is performed by the community in which both boys and girls sing and dance to the tune of Banam, a string musical instrument.

Enquire Now

Enquire Now