Sunday, December 4, 2022
Arunachal Pradesh


Folk Dance

The Wancho Dance

The Wancho tribes perform dances during appropriate occasions like festivals, ceremonies etc. Ozele festival of Wanchos is celebrated in February-March after the sowing of millet. It lasts for four days and was observed in Longkhau village.

The dance is performed from about 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. inside the chief's house. Among the male-folk, boys, youths and adults take part while among women, only girls and those young married women who have not joined the husband's family, take part in the dance. The dancers, dressed in their fineries, stand in a circle surrounding a bonfire. The girls stand on one side of the circle holding each other's hands. The male dancers hold a sword in the right hand and most of them place the left hand over the shoulder of the dancer to the left. The male dancers start singing when all take a short step with the right foot to the right, flex the knees with an accompanying forward swing of the sword and gently bring the left foot up to the heel of the right one. They repeat this sequence of movements. When the singing of the male-dancers, end, which is generally on the eighth or ninth step, all stamp their right foot twice on the ground. The female dancers take up the singing in reply. They stamp the right foot twice on the ground during their turn of singing, once generally in the fourth step and the next at the end of the singing which generally falls on the ninth step. Again the male dancers take up the singing and thus the dance continues.

All the male dancers have a cane basket hanging at the waist over the buttocks. The basket is decorated with coloured straw tassels, monkey skulls or wild boar's tushes. The straw tassels of the baskets are decorated with coloured beads. The straps of some of the baskets are decorated with white conch-shell discs. Each basket has a bell fitted at its bottom.

The tinkling of so many bells is the only musical sound. All have anklets of straw and girdles of one or two loops of red cane or of bands of cowries or beads just below the knee. The boys and a few youths are naked but others wear a loin-cloth which is white or light blue in colour with two red stripes at the ends decorated with small beads of different colours. This loin-cloth is tucked in position with a cane waist-band which is about six inches broad. The armlets are either of ivory, brass or red cane loops. The handle of the sword is decorated with coloured goat's hair. All wear some bead necklaces. Some wear necklaces of coins. The ear decorations are tufts of red woolen threads or ear-plugs decorated with the red seeds. Some have head-dresses made of bamboo, silver-shaped in a cone and decorated with horn-bill feathers. Some have red cane head-dresses decorated with wild boar's tushes. The hair up to the middle of the crown is brought forward and cut so that the fringe reaches just up to the top of the fore-head while the hair of the back is kept long and tucked round a red or yellow coloured rectangular piece of wood, called the Kahpak. Some of these kahpak's are studded with small pieces of glass while some are decorated with carvings of the human figure or human skull or with a tuft of coloured goat's hair. The side of the head are shaven.