Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Madhya Pradesh


Saila dance

Young boys of the plains of Chhattisgarh bring life to the post-harvest time by the Saila dance.

Saila is a stick-dance and is popular among the people of Sarguja, Chhindwara and Baitul districts. But in these places, Saila is known by Danda Nach or Dandar Pate. The Saila often comes out with many variations and much buffoonery.  Sometimes 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 round and round.  Sometimes they pair off, or go round in a single or double line, occasionally, climbing on each other's back.  The climax of a day's Saila, is the great Snake Dance. The Saila songs, of which the refrain is the monotonous Nanare nana are usually of a progressive character leading to a highly vulgar conclusion.

Saila comprises over half a dozen varieties.  Some of them are named as the Baithiki Saila, the Artari Saila, the Thadi Saila, the Chamka Kunda Saila, the Chakramar Saila (lizard's dance) and the Shikari Saila.  Each variation has a certain theme and distinctive feature of its own. Saila's simple form is the Dasera dance which is always performed by the Baigas before Diwali. Some of the post-harvest dances reach the climax towards the festivities of Diwali.  The Diwali dances of the Ahirs and Rawats of Bilaspur and Raipur districts of the state have enough of vital appeal.  Wearing tight-fitting shirts, studded with ghungrus or tiny bells and armlets of ghungurs, the Ahir dancers vigorously perform the Danda dance.

Karma dance

Among the Gonds and the Baigas of Chhattisgarh and the Oraons of the north-west fringes of Madhya Pradesh, the Karma dance is very common. This form is associated with the fertility cult and essentially related to the Karma festival that falls in the month of August. The Karma dance symbolizes the bringing of green branches of the forest in the spring. Sometimes a tree is actually set up in the village and people dance round it. The dance is filled with breath of trees. The men leap forward to a rapid roll of drums. Bending low to the ground the women dance, their feet moving in perfect rhythm to and fro, until the group of singers advances towards them.

The Majhwars of Sarguja district dance the Karma towards the beginning and the end of the rainy season. The Gonds and the Baigas of Mandla and Bilaspur districts dance it at any time they wish. The Baigas, the Jhumies, the Kanwars and the Gonds of Baghelkhand area perform this dance to the accompaniment of the Thumki, the Payri, the Chhalla and the Jhumki instruments. The Sirki, the Ghatwar, the Jhumar, the Ektaria, the Pendehar, the Dohoari, the Tegwani and the Lahaki are some of the sub-varieties of the Karma dance.

There are other variants of the Karma. The songs associated with these variants differ with each pattern. The Thadi, the Lahaki, the Khalha, the Jhumar and the Jharpat are the variations of Baiga Adivasis dance. The Karma seems to have been the oldest dance form of the Adivasis of Madhya Pradesh. It is the only dance which is common to the many ethnic groups of India.