To go around in circles is art here...

To go around in circles is art here...

To go around in circles is art here...

The many dance forms of Chhattisgarh reflect the exuberance of tribals, mirroring their rich culture and traditions. Being original and in no way influenced by outside traditions, these dances have retained their charm and uniqueness for many centuries now.

One such dance form is saila, also known as danda nach or dandar pate, performed by the young boys of Sarguja, Chhindwara and Betul districts of Chhattisgarh.

Performed post-harvest, saila brings life to the plains of Chhattisgarh with its variations and buffoonery. Danced to the tunes of saila songs, of which the refrain is the monotonous ‘nanare nana’, saila dance has over six varieties, including baithiki saila, artari saila, thadi saila, chamka kunda saila, chakramar saila (lizard’s dance) and shikari saila.

The dancers form a circle, each standing on one leg and supporting himself by holding on to the man in front. Then they all hop together in circles. Sometimes they pair off or go round in a single or double line, occasionally climbing on each other’s backs. The climax of the day’s saila is the snake dance. However, each type of saila has a distinctive feature while the Dussehra dance performed by the Baigas is the simplest, and occurs just before Diwali.

Diwali dances of the Ahirs and Rawats of Bilaspur and Raipur districts of the state are equally appealing, where the dancers wear tight-fitting shirts and armlets studded with ghungrus or tiny bells.

Another equally appealing dance form of Chhattisgarh is the muria and its many variations, performed by the Murias of North Bastar on happy occasions like festivals and marriages. Just before the performance, dancers worship their drums and invoke Lingo Pen, the phallic deity of the tribe believed by them as the first musician who taught the art of drumming to tribal boys.

While attending a marriage celebration, it is interesting to note the Muria boys and girls performing a happy dance called Har Endanna, which commences with a group of boys carrying ritualistic offerings and gifts. With this they lead the bridegroom to the ceremonial place.

The variety of movements in this dance is eye-catching, with the dancers and drummers moving in patterns with running steps and circles, then changing directions, kneeling, bending and jumping.

Of all the Muria dances, hulki is believed to be the most appealing and a favourite with performing groups, while karsana is performed for sheer fun and enjoyment.