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Tribal Dances of Eastern India

The tribal dances of Eastern India are closely connected to the soil. The very much indigenous performing arts are strictly performed by the aboriginals popularly known as ‘Adivasis’. These clans boast on their culture and heritage amidst the busy cosmopolitan population. We often relate the tribal dance forms with that of the folks. But the two dance forms differ from each other to a great extent.

The indigenous dance performance is in practice since the primeval times of the developing civilizations. Across different parts of India and Pan India—the Adivasis or the aboriginals are surviving and they still practice these dance forms. Visitors to such villages often get a glimpse of such beautifully depicted tribal dances.

Throughout eastern India, a wide array of tribal dance forms has emerged and even performed by the villagers today. We will take a stroll of the 5 most popular tribal dances of the eastern Indian regions.

tribal dance

Santhal Dance

Santhal community performs the Santhal tribal dance. The name of this performing art is named after the performing community. This is one of the most prominent indigenous dance forms of West Bengal. Both men and women are allowed to dance on the tune created mainly with dhols and flutes. Wearing white sarees with red borders is perhaps the never changing and so the flagship dress code for santhal dancing. Men are allowed to wear white dhoti. Women deck up their hair with the local flowers as well.

Mainly the dance is performed after a steady harvest. The step of the dance is simple yet enticing. They follow the footsteps holding each other’s hands creating a horizontal row. The movement and the steps of the dance resemble the harvesting actions.

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Cheraw Dance

Cheraw is one of the most popular tribal dance forms popular in Mizoram. Per the background of the enticing Cheraw, the dance form existed since the 1st-century A.D when the Mizos used to dwell somewhere in the Yunan province of China before they migrated to the present day Mizoram crossing over the great Chin Hills during the 13th century A.D.

The dance looks spontaneous and rhythmic but it needs excellent practice to perform.  Two men sitting face to face open and close two elongated bamboos by sitting on the ground. They do it with the beats and the girls beautifully adorned in popular Mizo dance attires called Puanchei, Kawrchei, Vakiria, and Thihna jump in and out with the rhythm of the tune as well. Usually, drums and gongs are played to create the music for Cheraw performance.

Garia Dance

During the shifting cultivation (Jhum) the Garia Dance is performed. The tribal dance of Tripura is performed to worship and thank God Garia in the month of April after a fulfilling harvesting. This is a seven-day festival called as Garia Puja, allures onlookers with attractive dances, music, and frolic.

Bihu Dance

Assam’s very own Bihu, though considered as a folk dance, per many sources is also a tribal dance forms performed by the Assamese to celebrate festivals. Assam, popularly known as the “Light of the East” is strengthening the philosophy of unity in diversity by using many of its cultures and heritages. Bihu is one of those performing arts that that has empowered Assam to create a mark of its own in the cultural sphere.

Bihu is celebrated thrice a year. Bohag Biru is also known as Rangoli Bihu. This is observed during the spring season. The Magh Biru (also known as Bhopal Bihu) is observed in winter and the Kongali Bihu (Kati Bihu) is autumn’s very own. Women performing Bihu are dressed with similar Mekhala (traditional Assamese dress for women) and very gracefully move their body with the tune created from drums and flute. Men are also allowed to dance Bihu. They can wear Chaapkan and dhoti during the performance.

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Hozagiri Dance

Another popular tribal dance form of Tripura, Hozagiri is performed by the Reang community. The dance is popular and stands exclusive among others for its unique moves. The performers are not allowed to move the upper part of their torso and so as the hands. This is a formidable belly dancing that is performed by the girls by standing on a pitcher and balancing a bottle and a lighted lamp on their heads. Sounds enthralling, but this is a dance of balance and needs passion and patience at the same time.

So, here were the top 5 tribal dances of Eastern India that are enticing the spectators for over the centuries and the legacy will be continued with the upcoming generations.

Featured Photo by jac099

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