Home >>Indian Dance >> Folk and Tribal Dances of  Bihar







Dances from Bihar can be divided into tribal (‘Munda, Santhal, Oraon, Kharia, Ho) and non-tribal (‘Bhojpuri, Majhi, Maithili). The themes of these dances generally centre on agricultural or hunting occupations or religious subjects. The most important dances are ‘Chhau,Karma, ‘Jatra and ‘Paika.


Chau: The Chhau dance is indigenous to the eastern part of India, especially Bihar and originated in the 18th and 19th centuries as a martial art form. Chhau is generally performed with the onset of the month of ‘Chaitra Parva, which comes about the middle of April every year. The Chhau dance got its name from ‘chhau or mask, which is an essential feature of this dance form. The techniques of Chhau dance incorporated certain basic steps, which seem to have stemmed from the ‘Pharikhanda system of exercise, which has been an important part of the training of the ‘Sipahis or ‘Pharikhanda. The depiction of birds and animals is a distinctive feature of Chhau. This has given rise to several sub-forms such as ‘Mayura Nritya (Peacock dance), ‘Sagara Nritya (Ocean dance) and ‘Sarpa Nritya (serpent dance). There are also heroic dances using swords, bows or shields, with which the dancers demonstrate their dexterity. The drums, nagra and dhol, and shehnai provide the main musical accompaniment to the Chhau dance. The tunes are based mainly on the ragas of the Hindustani music. There are three main recognized styles of Chhau: ‘Seraikella, ‘Purulia and ‘Mayurbhanj.  Masks are not worn in the Mayurbhanj Chhau. In the contemporary times, the Mayurbhanj Chhau is increasingly being choreographed to modern dance.


Jadur: It is performed by the ‘Oraon’ tribe.

Jata Jatin
: It is performed in moonlight by the ‘Mithila’ women.


Karama: It is performed by the boys and girls of the ‘Kol tribe during rainy seasons.


Paika: The ‘Paika’ is a stylized presentation of war dance performed by the ‘Munda’ and ‘Oraon’ communities of Bihar (and Jharkhand). It is also performed as a festive dance during weddings and the Dussehra days. This dance is performed by the males along with traditional weapons like the shield and the sword.


Sarbul (Sarhul): It is a summer dance of the ‘Oraon’ tribe.


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