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Tribal Circuit

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Dance and Music

Bison Horn Maria tribal,  ChhattisgarhThe Chhattisgarhi tribal sects take equal interests in dance and music. Few of the popular dance styles common among them are the Panthi, Raut Nacha Karma and Soowa. The traditional folk songs which steal a listener’s heart are Sohas, Pathoni and Bihav. The chief parts of Bihav are Telmati, Chulmati, Nahdouri, Maymouri, Bhadoni, Parghani and others. Pathoni songs are correlated to Gouna, the departure songs for the brides to their in-laws house. These songs and music are no more restricted to the state’s boundaries, but getting worldwide recognition in the present times. An integral part of the festivals and ceremonies of the tribal population of Chhattisgarh is their affluent and diverse tradition of music and dance which they have retained and gracefully maintained since ages. They exhibit their emotions through the medium of music – their happiness and pathos, their cravings and yearnings, their passion and lifestyle, their fondness for nature and outlook towards the human society. Although the art of performing the songs and dances differ from one clan to another, yet certain features are generally familiar to all. The tribal dances are complemented with rhythmic beats of drum-beats, clapping of hands (by the dancers/spectators) or a diminutive arrangement of musical instruments. Life is never easy for these tribal clans. However, fighting against all oddities of life for their survival, they have sustained and carefully preserved their wide-ranging legacy of multi-speckled dance and melodies. Interestingly, they are never professionally trained or guided on these subjects; both dance and music form an integral part of their livelihood through which they divulge their suppressed expressions, feelings and thoughts. Age or gender is not any bar for these performing arts young or old, male or female – all form groups and get awfully engrossed and addicted with the beats of drums. They dance to the numbers sung by them. The male members take the initiative to play the music in the form of flutes or drum beats. There are vigorous and uniform movements of various body parts. To add colour to their performances, often they attire themselves in colourful dancing costumes and gears.
The most striking dances are that of the Maria tribes where the men perform decked in strip of fabric round their chest, bells round their writs and ankles and colourful feathered headgears. In case of Bison-horn Marias or Hill-Marias, the groups are divided in boys and girls. Saila is another form of dance which is performed by men only during public gatherings, rallies or national festivals. The Soowa dance is performed by girls and boys for proposing each other and also to appease the goddess of wealth. The Karma dance is again acted upon for worshiping the Karam tree with milk and rice beer which is later on planted centre stage of the dancing dais.

In order to articulate and convey the thrill of belonging in the lap of nature, they often express their emotions and delight by humming songs and tunes. These songs are either traditional or weaved by them. The varied human sentiments are revealed through the lyrics and tunes like wit, spoof, fables etc. These songs have a fragrance of the earth - raw and natural, not mixed with so called modern, urban music-mixtures. Different types of songs are sung during the time of festivals and occasions where they sing to the glory of Gods and Goddesses, praise the bounty of nature or narrate anecdotes from the epics. To conclude, the passion of dance and music enables them to breathe free from the hardships of mundane life and rediscover their souls in joy and ecstasy.



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