Home Culture 10 most popular folk dances of Odisha

10 most popular folk dances of Odisha

Folk dances are the common people’s dance. Often inspired by the local culture and tradition of a place, they hold years of imagination of a particular community in the form of songs and stories. Over the years they have been an exotic means of recreation for numerous indigenous communities of Odisha. With rich cultural diversity, Odisha presents a colorful kaleidoscope of art and dance forms.

Odisha has been molded by the amalgamation of different beliefs and societies. In this way, the state’s social canvas includes numerous tones, each assuming a significant job in molding its performing arts.The folk dances of Odisha are awe inspiring and are a visual enjoyment. The hearty cadenced foot-tapping music fills your senses and takes over your mood.

The beat of the drums, the lilting melodies, the elegant body developments loaded up with special stances, straightforward advances joins to turn into a moving pleasure.

The brilliant and stunning outfits, embellished with bright dabs, silver decorations with beguiling and beautiful headgears, clanking, and banging with each twisted development in the folk dances of Odisha, get the newness of the customary rustic flavor.

Here are some of the amazing folk dances of Odisha

Ghumura Dance

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Picture courtesy: Wikiwand

Ghumura of Kalahandi is one of the folk dances of Odisha. Initially it wasn’t identified as an independent dance form because of it having many derivatives from common classical dance forms but it has come to create its own identity owing to its origins and unique rules.

The works of art showing the Ghumura in the caverns of the areas of Kalahandi and Nuapada mark its initial presence.

It is accepted that the Ghumura folk dance was first performed in the waterway valley of Indravati and spread to the encompassing regions from that point.

There are a few inscriptions at the Sun Temple of Konark, demonstrating the exhibition of Ghumura dance in the bygone eras. There are numerous varieties or structures to this folk dance, for example, Ghumura-Ladhei, Badi-Ghumura, Go Spada, Mesha Yudha, Chaki, Go Chanda, Kakuta Yudha, and so forth. Ghumura dance is for men and there are no female members in it.

Baagha Nacha

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Picture courtesy: YouTube

Mainly practiced in Brahmapur, Odisha’s Baagha Naacha is a folk dance enjoyed by many. Also called Tiger Dance, this folk dance initially started as a way of pleasing Maa Budhi Thakurani of Mahurigada Jungle.

According to myths, she was very fond of tigers and through this, the villagers could get their wishes fulfilled. It is only performed by male artists by painting their bodies with yellow and black stripes resembling a tiger and they also attach a tail.

Before the performers adorn their headgear and tail, it is taken for worship in the Jatra Mandapa. Prior to this, their family has to go through some rituals.

They are also called as Manasikadhari. Kala Bagha (instrumental tiger) and Chitri Bagha (Painted Tiger) are the two types of tigers that are enacted.

While the Kala Bagha focuses on being a life-size tiger, the painted tiger has to be accompanied by other performers to enact the hunters or other wild animals.

The dancers are accompanied by people playing drums and have great synchronization amongst themselves.

This folk dance is also performed in Binka and Sonepur of Subarnapur district during Chaitra. Bagh Bahadur, a feature film by Buddhadev Bhattacharya, is based around this dance.

Dhan Dance

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Picture courtesy: Travreport

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

Unlike, the previously mentioned folk dances, here both men and women can take part in this. Men of one town hit the dance floor with ladies of another town. Generally, unmarried young men and young ladies participate.

The folk dance is performed during weddings and is named so as a result of going with an instrument called dhap. The dhap looks like a Khanjari consisting of wood, with one side open and the opposite side covered with leather.

Dhap folk dance is an old adivasi conventional dance of the clans of Odisha. It is performed during Nuakhai.

All the towns of the district take an interest in the exhibition together in harmony and agreement. The leader of the town is known as mukhia, who hits the dance floor with a hatchet on his shoulder.

This connotes the men will ensure the uprightness of the ladies of their town.

When the dhap folk dance is performed at a wedding, the artists please Mother Earth to favour the newly married couple.

The ensembles worn by the men playing out the dhap dance are a dhoti, a shirt and a towel or scarf around their necks.

The ladies are clad in a conventional vivid Sambalpuri sari and a blouse. Their gems contain khagla, ghika, cut, painri, katriya, an armlet, a bandira and brilliant coordinating bangles.

Changu Dance

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Picture courtesy: YouTube

The Changu is a well-known folk dance from the Eastern province of Odisha. Despite the fact that the Changu folk dance is essential for regular day to day existence for the entirety of the clans, it is viewed as nearer to the Bhuyan clan of Odisha.

The Changu dance form gets its name from the changu drum, which is the essential backup for the moves. This folk dance is performed uniquely by the unmarried people of the town.

The dance is performed in the centre of the settlement. The ladies move gradually while the men just groove with the music and now and again perform gymnastics. The men are the artists and vocalists and the ladies are the dancers.

The men are led by the youngster playing the changu and play a couple of different sorts of drums and sing fitting society melodies. The youngsters then again are wearing abnormally long saris that leave their hands and feet open.

The ladies move holding each other’s hands. In the Changu move, little youngsters approach the young men and accordingly the young men gradually retreat, and afterward the ladies retreat and again the men follow their development, and perform jumps and gymnastics every once in a while. All the developments synchronized with the beats and the singing rhythms.

The Changu folk dance is essential to the ancestral way of life in Orissa. It frames the focal occasion in any event for festivities and celebrations, similar to harvests and relationships.

This folk dance additionally fills in as a socially adequate stage for the gathering of qualified lone wolves in the town, since the artists must be unmarried.

Goti Pua Dance

folk-dances-of-Odisha-Goti-Pua-Dance-utkal-today
Picture courtesy: Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham

In the Odia language, goti signifies single and pua signifies boy. For a considerable length of time, the Gotipua dance has been performed in Odisha by little youngsters who take on the appearance of females to applaud Lord Jagannath and Lord Krishna.

The genuine type of this folk dance is executed by a gathering of young men who perform moves derived from the lives of Radha and Krishna.

The young men begin training at an early age. The young men don’t trim their hair in order to tie it into a large bun for dancing. Laurels of blossoms are woven into the hair. They apply make-up all over with white and red powder combined.

In ancient times, the sanctuaries of Odisha had female artists called Devadasi or Mahari, who had dedicated their lives to Lord Jagannath.

The models of the artists, in the celebrated sanctums of Orissa (the Sun Temple in Konark and the Jagannath temple in Puri) show the proof of this exceptionally antiquated custom.

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.

The Gotipua folk dance follows Odissi style, however, their strategy, ensembles, and introduction vary from those of the Mahari. The singing is finished by the artists themselves.

Karma Dance

Picture courtesy: Wikipedia

Karma folk dance is performed by the clans of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, and different areas of the nation. This folk dance is performed during the pre-winter celebration of Karma Puja.

This dance is performed before the Karma tree that represents the Karma devta. The individuals attempt to satisfy Karma devta with the dance so that Karam, the God of Fate, would shower his gifts on them. Karma devta is worshiped as the bearer of their destiny.

Karma Naach is performed with incredible pageantry and quality in the Western parts of Odisha. The word Karma or Karam actually implies destiny in the neighborhood Kosli language of the Sambalpur area. The Karma Naach is shown to venerate the Karma devta and goddess Karamsani Devi, who choose the fortune of their subjects. This dance is either performed in discrete gatherings of young ladies or young men or both together.

Chhau Dance

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Picture courtesy: YouTube

The Chhau is a well-known folk-dance of India that fuses components of combative techniques with itself. This folk-dance form is practiced in Orissa, West Bengal, and Jharkhand. The word Chhau is believed to originate from the Sanskrit word chhaya which implies veils, shadow, or picture, while different researchers accept that the word originates from chhauni which means a military camp.

There are three subtypes of this folk dance: Purulia Chhau, Mayurbhanj Chhau, and Seraikella Chhau. Contrasts between the three are subject to their source. So as to keep up the sanctity of this move, the artists scrub down and do Puja before performance.

The Chhau was the most sought-after dance of the Jain and the Buddhist period. Afterwards, different scenes of the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata were incorporated in it. Also, a couple of scenes from Indian Puranas were utilised. Out of the three styles, Mayurbhanj performers practice all three of them.

Also read: Bengei Nacha – The villager’s plea for monsoon

Dalkhai Dance

folk-dances-of-Odisha-dalkhai-dance-Utkal-today
Picture courtesy: Gosahin

Dalkhai is one of the most famous folk dances of Western Orissa. In the Odia language, the term Dalkhai signifies woman love. The men yell Dalkhai bo! in the refrain of the song and from this phrase comes the name Dalkhai folk dance.

The subjects on which the folk dance is performed include romantic tales of Radha and Lord Krishna, scenes from the Hindu sagas, Ramayana and Mahabharata and portrayal of nature. This dance can end up being repetitive, as it is performed continuously for around 36 hours at a time! This dance begins on Saptami and finishes with the Dussehra celebration of Durga Puja.

The Dalkhai is performed in events like Bhaijuntia, Phagun Puni, Nuakhai, Dussehra, Dalkhai and Durga Puja.

The unmarried young ladies known as kuanris, start the exhibition with a society tune, which is followed with a Dalkhai performance.

Keisabadi Dance

Keisabadi-Dance-Utkal-today
Picture courtesy: Bharatanatyam Dance Costume

The Keisabadi folk dance originates from Sambalpur region of Odisha. This dance is predominantly performed by men.

The songs used in the dance are in native Kosli language. After every verse of the song, the men yell haido with energy. The theme of the songs and the complementary dance steps often portray romantic tales of Radha and Krishna.

The performers use a two-feet long stick as a dance prop..

The pioneer of the gathering begins the tune and different men follow their lead into the tune and dance rhythmically.

Daskathia Dance

Daskathia-Dance-Utkal-today
Picture courtesy: Pinterest

Daskathia, one of the folk dances of Odisha, is a form of dance-cum natya. This dance narrates ancient puranic tales and legends of Lord Shiva and his incarnations as Rudra, Hara, Mahadeva, Shankar, Bholanath, and so forth.

Alongside them, tales of other Hindu gods and goddesses like Vishnu, Krishna, Ganesh, Durga, and Kali, and so on, are also performed.

The exhibition of Daskathia is considered formal in nature. The performance has less music and more poetry. Its emotional piece comprises verses taken from different Puranic references which are used to narrate stories to the audience.

The artists dress up in shiny and gaudy dresses portraying the character they intend to play. Those artists who sing along in the background and play instruments, wear a white vest and with a red dhoti during performance.

So, these were some of the famous folk dances of Odisha. These folk dances of Odisha is one of major element of the Odisha culture. To know more, click here.


Soumya Das
A postgraduate in English from The English and Foreign Languages University, Soumya possesses a knack for collecting critical information as well as putting it out in a structured manner. She believes that a firm and unwavering opinion on varied things, along with the capability of critical judgment is of paramount importance. A lover of offbeat books and movies, Soumya really wishes to make a difference in this morbid dystopia that we live in.

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