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Current Affairs

Chhau dance

Date: 04 January 2021 Tags: Dance and Music


The Chhau dance has slowly started to gain prominence with increasing participation of women in mask making.



  • Chhau is a semi classical Indian dance with martial, tribal, and folk traditions, with origins in eastern India.

  • It is found in three styles named after the location where they are performed, i.e. the Purulia Chhau of Bengal, the Seraikella Chhau of Jharkhand, and the Mayurbhanj Chhau of Odisha.

  • The dance ranges from celebrating martial arts, acrobatics, and athletics performed in festive themes of a folk dance, to a structured dance with religious themes found in Shaivism, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism.

  • The costumes vary between the styles, with Purulia and Seraikella using masks to identify the character. The stories enacted by Chhau dancers include those from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Puranas and other Indian literature.

  • The dance is traditionally an all males troupe, regionally celebrated particularly during spring every year, and may be a syncretic dance form that emerged from a fusion of classical Hindu dances and the traditions of ancient regional tribes.

  • The dance is performed especially during the spring festival of Chaitra Parva and in which the whole community participates. The Purulia Chhau dance is celebrated during the Sun festival.

  • The Chhau dance found in northern Odisha does not use mask during the dance, but they do when the artists first appear on the stage for introduction to the audience.

  • The dance is performed by male dancers, at night in an open space, called akhada or asar.

  • The dance is rhythmic and set to traditional folk music, played on the reed pipes mohuri and shehnai.

  • In 2010 the Chhau dance was inscribed in the UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

  • The Chhau mask of Purulia is registered under Geographical Indications. As the basic difference of Purulia Chhau the mask is unique and traditional.