Dances of Assam: Most Popular Classical and Folk Dance
Dances of Assam have been the most important and most long standing tradition in Assamese culture.
Assam, a northeastern state of India, features a hybrid culture that has evolved with times. Dances of Assam have been the most important and most long standing tradition in Assamese culture. Assam has people belonging to many tribes, and each tribe have their own unique dance. Some tribe have dances for different occasions as well. The best places to witness their dances are in the many festivals taking place throughout the year. People of Assam consider their dances more than just a medium of expression, more than a medium of entertainment, dances are a part of their religion and believes. Apart from famous folk dances like Bihu Dance, the classical dance of Assam named Sattriya Dance which is one of the eight distinguished Indian classical dance.
This dance form is basically performed in the village Namghars and Satras, in order to promote the Vaishnavite culture in Assam. It is actually a theatrical depiction of the one-act play Ankiya Nat, initiated by Sankardeva. An integral part of the dance is the Sutradhara, who recites the slokas, sings, dances and explains the various stages of Bhaona in detail. Another form of dance included in Bhaona is the Natuwa or Cali dance. One of the subdivisions of this dance form is the Hajowaliya, which is basically a woman’s dance and is the combination of both Tandava and Lasya.
Oja- Pali is a form of classical dance, representing the rich tradition and cultural heritage of Assam. Oja and Pali are actually a group of chorus singers and dancers, with Oja as the leader and Palis as his assistants.
Sattriya dance is a renowned classical dance of the state of Assam and was introduced by Srimanta Shankardev to propagate the religion of Vaishnavism.
Bihu is a popular folk dance associated with the state of Assam in India and it is performed generally during the Bihu festival. There are primarily three Bihu festivals that are popular in Assam namely Rongali Bihu, Kongali Bihu and Bhogali Bihu and the Bihu dance is performed during the Rongali Bihu.
This is a typical folk dance performed by the tea community in the state, locally called ‘Chah Baganar Jumur Nach’ or the Jumur dance of tea garden. Boys and girls hold each other’s waist and dance to the tunes of the Jumur dance, with exact precision of foot work. Watching them sway to the tunes of the song is indeed a very pleasant experience.
Ali Ai Ligang Dance
The Mishing community of Assam performs a dance while making an offering to their deities during the Ali Ai Ligang festival. This form of dance is seen only in the north-eastern parts of the state, namely Sonitpur and Lakhimpur.
Deodhani is a dance form associated with the worship of the snake goddess Manasa. This dance is performed by a girl who, in a trance-like inspired state, goes on dancing to the beats of the Ciphung (flute) and the Kham (drum). At one stage of the dance, she even takes a sword and a shield performing a virile war dance, honoring various gods and goddesses, like Shiva, Lakshmi etc.
Barpeta’s Bhortal Nritya
This form of dance is mainly a propagation of the Sankari culture of Assam and was originally developed by the well known Satriya artist, Narahari Burha Bhakat. During the festivals in the Barpeta and Guwahati regions, this dance is performed by a group of 6-10 dancers equipped with cyrnbols.
Dhuliya and Bhawariya
This is basically a form of theatrical performance, using masks, drums and cymbals.
This is one of the best folk dances performed by the Bodo community of Assam. A number of Bodo girls, dressed in colorful apparels, dance to the tune of the tribe’s traditional musical instruments, with slow steps and outstretched hands. This is commonly seen in the Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Nalbari, Darrang and Sonitpur districts of Assam.