Chhau Mask-Dance Festival

Chhau Mask-Dance Festival

Mid-April
Chhau is a form of dance rooted in the religious beliefs of Indian folk culture. Different regions of India practice their own unique style of Chhau, incorporating various folk, classical, and traditional elements. The masked dancers are often silent and use stylized movements to illustrate the conflict between good and evil to the accompaniment of drums, pipes, and cymbals. The dramatic situations that give shape to the dances are often drawn from episodes in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, two famous epic poems of India.
The Seraikella Chhau dance held every April in the Singhbhum District of Bihar State reflects variations that are unique to the region. The influence of the martial arts can be seen in the dance, but the predominant mood is lyrical. Seraikella is also the home of the Government Chhau Dance School, which sponsors the two-day festival.
In the Mayurbhanj Chhau Dance, also held in the middle of April, the dancers do not wear masks but hold their facial expressions as still as possible, as if to imitate a mask. Unlike other forms of Indian dance, the Chhau dancers use all of the space available to them, and there are many long entrances and sweeping gestures.
CONTACTS:
Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Rm. No 123, Transport Bhawan, No. 1, Parliament St.
New Delhi, Delhi 110 001 India
91-11-23715084; fax: 91-11-23715084
www.tourisminindia.com
Government of Orissa
Dept. of Tourism, Museum Campus
Paryatan Bhawan
Bhubaneswar, Orissa 751 014 India
91-674-432177; fax: 91-674-430887
www.orissagov.nic.in
SOURCES:
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 203
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