Sunday, December 4, 2022
Andhra Pradesh


Chiratala Bhajana

Chiratala Bhajana or Chekka Bhajana resembles Kolattam very closely in its movements, steps, dance and style and songs except that the players hold Chiratalu instead of sticks. All the technical terms like jattu, Garidi, Uddi, Kopu, Ettugada, Muktayimpu, Usi are common to both Kolattam and Chiratala Bhajana.

Chiratalu, a pair of wooden pieces chiseled and riveted with jingling bells and metal pieces, produces metallic and rattling sound. The two pieces can be held in a palm like a single piece by inserting the thumb and middle finger into the rings fixed in the centre on the top side of the wooden pieces. By opening and closing the palm the two pieces strike each other and produces musical sound. In Kolattam each player hold two sticks one in each hand, in Chiratala Bhajana the players hold a pair of Chiratalu in one hand and a colourful handkerchief in another which he waves while jumping and dancing. The kolattam kopus are of short  duration where as the Chiratala Bhajana kopus are of long duration facilitating  narration of episodes from Epics and Puranas. There are nearly 100 kinds of kopus depicting variety in the steps. In modern times long  narratives have been divided into small bits with different gatis and styles. In olden days lamp posts used to be erected in the middle of the circle of players. Now troupe leader stands in the middle and sings the narrative playing cymbals or Chiratalu.

A troupe consisting of 10 to 20 members forms into a circle while the leader who stands in the centre begins the bhajan, directing the troupe. All members follow him. The commencing steps are known as Adi Adugu (beginning steps). This is compulsory item. The other steps are known as Potu Adugu, Kuppadugu, Kulukula Adugu, Joku Adugu, Nemili Adugu, Gurappu Adugu, Uyyala Adugu. The players hang garlands in their necks and tie jingling bells  to their ankles, they also tie colourful waist bands.

Dappu Dance

Dappu is a percussion instrument. It is a counterpart of Dandora of North India. It is also called Tappeta in coastal Andhra. It is made out of calf hide fixed to the margosa wooden structure in a circular shape. It is beaten with two sticks one thin and the other thicker. The form belongs exclusively to Harijans. Dappu dance is a vigorous type of dance as the Dappu is a powerful percussion instrument. A troupe consisting of ten to twenty artistes presents Dappu dance during marriage processions, car festivals  of deities and village fairs and festivals.

Tiger steps, bird steps, horse steps are some of the styles of dance movements presented in the Dappu dance. Sometimes the songs sung verge on obscenity as in Lella Patalu  to settle old scores. The beat of the Dappu and the foot work of the dancers synchronise with each other so perfectly that from a slow moving, low-beating rhythm, it reaches its climax with the frantic drums keeping pace with the dazzling foot work by the dancers. They play several kinds of rhythms like Trisra, Chaturasa, Mirsa, Khandagati, Sankeerna, jatis, comprising seven type of beats. They follow different kinds of dance, leaping from one side to another with complicated foot work. They tie jingling bells to their ankles. Spectators throw coins on a Dappu placed on the ground. when the players around that Dappu beat their drums vigorously, the Dappu placed on the ground responds to the sound vibrations and the coins over it dance and slide down to be picked up as a reward by the artistes.