CHHAU DANCE Chhau dance is a genre of Indian tribal martial dance whose origin is attributed to Mayurbhanj, an erstwhile princely state of Orissawhich is popular in the Indian states of Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. There are three subgenres of the dance, based on its places of origin and development, Seraikella Chhau, Mayurbhanj Chhau and Purulia Chhau.
Seraikella Chhau was developed in Seraikela, the present day administrative headquarters of the Seraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand, Purulia Chau was developed in Purulia district of West Bengal and Mayurbhanj Chhau was developed in Mayurbhanj district of Orissa. The most prominent difference among the three subgenres is in the use of mask. While, the Seraikela and Purulia subgenres of Chhau use masks, the Mayurbhanj Chhau uses none.
EtymologyIt is believed by some modern scholars that, the word Chhau, is derived from SanskritChāya (shadow, image or mask), but according to Sitakant Mahapatra, it is derived from Chhauni (military camp)..
The Chhau dance is epical in content, and is based on various episodes of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Sometimes certain episodes of the Puranas are also used. The dominant rasas are Vira and Rudra. In the end, generally, forces of evil are vanquished and the righteous triumphs. In the villages, no dais or raised platform is used; the dance takes place on the ground around which, the spectators sit in a circle. When performing outside their villages the dancers often use the stage. The dance, opens with the beating of drums followed by an invocation to Ganesha. by a singer. As soon as the singer finishes the song, host of drummers and musicians step in creates an in inexplicably wonderful environ prior to the dance. Ganesha appears followed in quick succession by other characters —gods, demons, animals and birds.