Summary on Folk Dances and Music of Koshal
Compiled by Satyajit Nayak
Leaving apart the Koshali Language, the various types of exotic folk songs and dances which exist in this area give ample evidence of its speciality and originality. These songs and dances are not merely outbreak of emotions but finer elements of life and livings, scientifically fused into the rhythm of the percussion instruments of the region which spontaneously touches the heart; irrespective of caste, creed, sect, religion and time. Any human being who sincerely hears the music of the songs and dances, feels the vibration- in its body, heart and mind.
The speciality of Sambalpuri dance lies not in its tuning but in its rhythm, Rhythmically this form of dance are of five types, viz, dance based on Dhol, dance based on mandal, Ghumura dance, dance based on Mardal and dance based on Mridang. Among these five the most popular is the Sambaipuri Dance based on Dhol .
So lets begin our journey of sambalpuri Music and dance …..
Dand (Danda Jatra or Danda Nata) :
It is considered to be one of the oldest forms of variety entertainment in India. This is mainly ritual dance and performed during the Chaitra parva festival in the month of April. Men perform the dance only. As it is a ritual dance there is no class distinction for participation. Dhol and a Mahuri are the only accompanying instruments in this dance.
Comparing to dand it is rather a modern for of sambalpuri dance..This dance is also performed by Male dancers in a group.They sung bhajans of shri Krishna and play murdung and gini.They use a special instrument for this made of wood and ghoolgola’s are attached to that…A fomour krushnaguru song is “hai krushna hai krushna”.
Though Dusserah is the occasion of Dalkhai, it’s the most popular folk-dance of Koshal, its performance is very common on all other festivals such as Bhaijiuntia, Phagun Puni, Nuakhai, etc. This is mostly danced by young women of Binjhal, Kuda, Mirdha, Sama and some other tribes of Sambalpur, Bolangir, Sundargarh and Kalahandi districts under the Koshal region in which men joins them as drummers and musicians. The dance is accompanied by a rich orchestra of folk music played by a number of instruments known as Dhol, Nisan , Tamki , Tasa and Mahuri. However, the Dhol player controls the tempo while dancing in front of the girls.
It is known as Dalkhai because in the beginning and end of every stanza the word is used as an address to a girl friend. The love story of Radha and Krishna, the episodes from Ramayana and Mahabharata, the description of natural scenery are represented through the songs.
The young women dance and sing intermittently. The songs are of special variety with the additive 'Dalkhai Go' which is an address to a girlfriend. While dancing to the uncanny rhythms of the Dhol, they place the legs close together and bend the knees. In another movement they move forward and backward in a half-sitting position. Sometimes they make concentric circles clockwise and anti-clockwise.
The women generally dress themselves in colourful Sambalpuri Saris and wear a scarf on the shoulders holding the ends below in both the hands. Bedecked with traditional jewellery, their robust frames sustain the strains of the dance for long hours.
The Dalkhai dance has several adjunctive forms for all ages and groups :
Dances performed by girl Child : Chhiollai, Humobauli and Dauligit.
Dances Performed by teenagers : Sajani, Chhata , Daika and Bhekani.
Dances Performed by Youths : Rasarkeli, Jaiphul, Maila Jada, Bayamana, Gunchikuta .
The man who worship work, composes “Karma” and “Jhumer” invigorating Lord Vishwakarma and the Karamashani goddess.
Only men can take part in Keisabadi dance.Some of them holding a stick two feet in length. They dance in different forms by striking the sticks according to the rhythms of the song they sing. The leader sings first and others follow him. They sing in local dialect and in every stanza they shout " Haido". The main theme of the song is derived from the love story of Radha and Krishna.
Ghoomra is also known as vira-badya of koshal region. It was used during war times in the past to encourage soldiers. It is also used to give social message like forestation, saving girl child,literacy etc. It is a typical drum. It is just like a big pitcher with a long stem made of clay. The mouth is covered with the skin of a Godhi (a reptile). When played with both hands, it produces a peculiar sound quite different from other varieties of drums.
The dance performed to the accompaniment of this drum is called Ghoomra Nata. It begins fifteen days before the Gamha Puni (full moon in September) and culminates on that night in a ceremonial performance. Young men of various communities fix a Ghoomra each on the chest with string tied the body simultaneouly dance and play.
The performance begins with slow circular movements. The Nisan is a smaller variety of Kettle-drum played with two leather-sticks. The player always places himself in the centre and controls the tempo of the dance. He also indicates change over the movements. After a brief dance sequence in different rhythmic patterns all the dancers move in a concentric circle and then stand erect in a line. Then enters the singer who first sings in praise of Saraswati and other gods and godesses. During the song the drums remain silent. After the prayer-song Chhanda, Chaupadi and other literary folk-songs are sung. Each couplet of a song is followed by a dance. At the end of the each couplet the singer adds 'Takita Dhe' which is a numonic syllable for the time-beats and indicates the dance to begin. The origin of ghumra is Kalahandi dist.
This dance type named after the accompanying Jhoomar songs is current among the Mahanta and Munda communities of the Sundargarh district. Among the Mahantas the dance is performed by the men only. Among the Mundas the singers who accompany the dancers sing songs and the dancers follow them in chorus to the accompaniment of Madal. The Mundas are especially experts in this dance particularly in intricate foot steps, movement of hip and wrists and movement of body.
Karam or Karma literally means 'fate'. This pastoral dance is performed during the worship of the god or goddess of fate (Karam Devta or Karamsani Devi), whom the people consider the cause of good and bad fortune. It begins from Bhadra Shukla Ekadasi (eleventh day of the brightmoon of the month of Bhadra) and lasts for several days.
This is popular among the scheduled class tribes (e.g., the Binjhal, Kharia, Kisan and Kol tribes) in the districts of Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Balangir. This dance is in honour of Karamsani, the deity who bestows children and good crops
. After the puja is done it is followed by singing and dancing in accompaniment of drum (madal), cymbal etc. The dance performance full of vigour and energy combined with charm of the youth decked with colourful costumes in exuberance of red cloth, set in peacock feathers, skillfully designed ornaments made of small conch shells, brings the onlookers as well as the performers to a mood of trance and ecstasy. In this dance both men and women take part and continue to engross themselves for the whole night. The skillful movement of the young boys with mirror in hand indicates the traditional pattern of love-making in course of dancing and singing. The dance is performed sometimes by boys in group, sometimes by girls in group and sometimes both the sexes together. The subject matter of songs constitutes the description of nature, invocation to Karmasani, desires, aspiration of people, love and humour.
This type of dance prevalent in only in the Koshal region. It is a standardised performance of singing, playing on the musical instrument which looks like Mridanga but bigger in size and Jhanja locally known as (Kartal), and dancing. The peculiarity of this performance is that the performer displays his capability in gayana, badana and nartan. One cannot be an expert performer in the Bahaka dance unless he acquires adequate knowledge in these three aspects. The tuning of the songs, the stepping movement of feet and rhythmic playing of the musical instruments make the performance very interesting and charming. Bhajan, Janana, Chhanda, Chaupadi and Sanskrit slokas are recited while dancing. The main performer is assisted by another player who is known as palia Bahaka. This type of dance is generally arranged on social and festive occasions.
Biha Naach :
Prevalent among Gond tribes of Kosal in general and Balangir district in particular, this is a marriage dance – a dance of joy. Prior to the dance the bride and bridegroom are smeared with turmeric paste on the marriage pandal (Bedi). After the ritual the bride and groom join others in dance.
Thetak Dance :
This is also a Kosli Sambalpuri folk dance specially perfomed in the Sundergarh district.A male dressed as a female enters the arena. He is called thetak (meaning intermediary). After dancing for sometime the thetak invites 2 or 3 other boys, dressed as girls, who join in the dance arena. After some humorous conversation all of them sing songs in local dialect and dance with the thetak in front.
Madal Dance : The Gond and Bhunjia tribes of Kalahandi perform Madal dance. The dance has been named after the main instrument ‘madal’ used in the dance. Madal, or Mandal as it is called locally, is an earthen drum with the sides covered with animal skin, which appears a little bigger than the mridanga. The songs sung in this dance are known as ‘Sarudhana’ or small property.
Dhap Dance :
It is performed mostly by the Kondha tribe of Kosal region. Both men and women participate in the dance. Men of one village dance with women of another village. Usually unmarried boys and girls take part. The dance is performed during marriage ceremony and more often for the sake of recreation. The dance is named so because of the accompanying instrument called ‘Dhap.’ The dhap is in the shape of a Khanjari made up of wood with one side open and the other side covered with a piece of animal skin. The dhap dancer holds the dhap with his left hand, the sling slung over his left shoulder, and beats with his right as well as left hand.
Changu Dance :
It is performed by the Bhuyans of Sundergarh district in particular and tribes of Kosal region in general. They dance with an instrument called ‘Changu’ in their hands, hence the name of the dance. It is a group dance in which boys and girls dance together freely.
While dancing the girls are usually veiled and dance opposite the boys. When the girls move forward the boys move backward and vice versa. Hip movements predominate in changu dance. Giridhari Gomango, ex-Chief Minister of Orissa, is a very good exponent of this form of art.
Homo and Bauli Dance :
These two dances are performed by unmarried young girls of Kosal (western Orissa). In this folk dance no musical instrument is played. It is a playful dance performed during auspicious ceremonies.This dance cum traditional game for girls is said to be a thousand years old...
Oraun Dance :
Performed by tribals of Kosal region..It is a dance with circular formation and is initiated by young men. Young girls join later. Both make circles, bending forward and backward, placing left foot in front and right foot at the back. The hands are placed on each others’ waist. Waving of the body from waist upwards, bending of the knees, stamping the right foot backward are some of the peculiar steps of the dance.
Dhangara-Dhangiri Dance of Kandha Tribe :
The Kandhas inhabiting Phulbani, Kalahandi, Balangir and Sambalpur districts perform this dance. Dhangada means unmarried boy and Dhangiri means unmarried girl in Kosli/Sambalpuri & ‘Kui’ language. Boys of one village go to another village where the girls welcome them. They dance together without any instruments. The girls stand in rows holding each other firmly with their arms around each others’ waist. The boys dance merrily in front of and around girls. While the Dhangidis wear special costumes, the boys do not wear any special apparel.
Tiger Dance of Sonepur :
This dance is performed in Binka and Sonepur of Subarnapur district during the month of chaitra. The dancer (only males) paints his bare body with yellow and black stripes like that of a tiger and attaches a suitable tail. One or more dancers move from house to house and after a crowd gathers the dance begins. The dancers are accompanied by a drummer and a bell player who provides the music. The dance is nothing but acrobatic movement in rhythm. They make hissing sounds while dancing. Tiger dance is also performed in Berhampur during the Thakurani Jatra.
Besides the above Other popular Koshali/Sambalpuri dances are also there….These forms of sambalpuri dances are mainly perform by professional entertainers.
Some of these popular dance forms of Koshal are:
Dand, Danggada, Mudgada, Ghumra, Sadhana, sabar – Sabaren, Disdigo, Nachina – Bajnia, Samparda and Sanchar .
Musical Instruments Of Koshal
The Vedas refer to four types of musical instruments. They are
(i) Tata (stringed instruments like Ektara, Ghubkudu, Veen, Kendra etc.),
(ii) Sushira (wind instruments like flute, bansi, bansri, mohuri, etc.)
(iii) Ghana (instruments like gongs, symbols, manjiri, gini, kathi, ghanta, ghanti etc.),
(iv) Avanadha (percussion instruments like dunduvi, Nagara, Dhol, Mridanga, Madal, Mardal, Nishan and Khol etc.).
It is the last type of instruments which are extremely important in Sambalpur folk culture.
The folk instruments which are in vogue in the Koshal region are as follows :
Dhulak, Pakhoj, Dugitabla, Mridanga, Mardal, Nalbaja, Dhapada, Timkidi, Nagara, Behela, Khanjani, Dhapli, Muhuri, Bansi, Singh-Kahali, Bir-Ka-hali, Ghulghula, Ghunguru, Kendera, Khadkhadi, Ektara, Ghumra, Gini, Kathi, Jhanj, Dhol, Madal, Nishan and Tasha.
Out of these the Dhol, Madal, Nishan and Tasha are the four oldest percussion instruments without any metamorphosis which are used in combination or in to two in almost all types of folk songs till today. It seems Dhol is the oldest instrument of Koshal region, which is the easiest to make. Madal is the second percussion instrument which shows craftmanship and research over it. Nishan is the miniature of Nagara which is supposed to be carried by the dancer over his shoulder or around his waist, while he dances. Tasha is the another abbreviation of Nishan, for high pitch and faster beats. These four instrumants and their combination create an atmosphere which is the originality of the folk dances and folk songs of Sambalpur region.
Some of the Basic Koshali Msical Instruments with Description:
Dhol- Drum made up of wood & both side are made of cowhide.
Nishan-Drum made up of buffalo's hide & decorated with deer's horn.
Muhari- a type of Sehnai.
Jhanj- A musical metallic instrument
Ganda Baja -A drum-like musical instrument
Mandal-An instrument like Mrudang but mainly used in Ghumura Dance.
Tasa -an one sided drum
Tamki - a tiny one sided drum 6" in diameter played by two sticks