Folk and Classical Dances of Assam
Along with the tradition of other forms, dance and music has always played
a very important role in enhancing the cultural glory of Assam which is
richly inherent in the social customs and rituals in various spheres.
Female participation among the tribes is the Karbis, the Dimasa Kacharis,
the Zemi Nagas and the Kukis in the hill and the Boro Kacharis, the
Misings, the Rabhas, the Tiwas the Hazons and the Deoris.
The Jongra dance of the Karbis is performed to celebrate the mirth and
grandeur of the nature’s elements.
Dimasa Kacharis :
The Dimasa Kacharis of the north Kachar hill district celebrate busu
a post harvest festival by performing a group dance known as Dimasa young
boys and girls in traditional costume dance in pairs in the open space
generally on moonlight nights.
Zemi Nagas and the Kukis:
A number of colorful varieties of dances of different Naga groups
represented by male and female are associated with their festivals.
The bamboo dance of Kukis which resembles the famous Mizo bamboo dance
involves a lot of care caution and patience on the part of the dancers.
Boro Kacharis celebrated the spring time Baisagu festival and marriage
ceremonies with dance and merriment just around the harvest season, the
Boro woman perform a dance with vigorous movements to invite rain. The
Maho Hunoi is another dance performed by the Boro Kacharis to derive away
The Ali Ai Lingang ( first sowing of seeds) is the prime festival which is
celebrated on the first Wednesday of the month of Fagun. Groups of male
and female dancers and drummers also visit other villages to participate
in drumming and dancing competition. The Misings also celebrate Bihu by
performing their distinctive style of Bihu dance accompanied by Mising Oi
Nitam and also Assamese Bihu songs.
The Rabha tribe has a rich and colourful dance tradition primarily
associated with their various festivals. The Rabhas dance representing
hunting and community fishing.
A number of significant Hazong dancers are associated with agricultural
activities. During the preparation of soil for plough, the young Hazong
boys and the girls perform Lewatona dance in the field. Charmaga is an
important festival of the Hazong tribes.
The Tiwas of the hill celebrate the spring festival Sugra Misawa with song
and dances which reflect the spirit of the spring youth and love. The
Tiwas worship nature and perform various rituals to preserve it by
observing Langhaun festival around December and January. The Tiwas
celebrate the Pisu (Bihu) at the advent of the spring season.
The celebration of Bahagiya Bisy (mid April) and Maghiya Bisy are the
chief festivals of the Deoris.
The Tea Tribes:
The tea garden labours in the tea gardens of Assam were recruited by the
British Planters in the later part of the 19th century mostly
from Bihar, Orrisa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamilnadu
etc. Jhumur songs and dances occupy a very prominent place in the life of
tea labour community.
Folk Dance Forms of Assam
Bihu is full of vigour and jubilation. It is generally danced in group by
young boys and girls where rhythm is uniformly maintained by the drummers,
pipe blowers and all other accompanist who play various traditional
instruments like Toka, Gogana, Pepa, Flute, Cymbals, Suthuli. It is
interesting to note that in the past, Bihu songs were composed extempore
and they embraced a number of themes which were based on Nature,
environment day to day activities and also the erotic ways of the youth.
Evidently, love and emotions instinct of the heart is the key note of most
of Bihu songs.
dance belongs to one of the very ancient traditional performing art forms
of Assam. The distinctive type of folk drama performance is presented
through choral singing accompanied by dances and gestures depicting the
meaning of the narration. An Ojapali troupe consists of an Oja and four to
five Palis or assistants. The chief of the assistants or Pali is known as
Another important festival associated with serpent goddess Manasa or Maroi
Puza is the Deuddhani festival held in Kamakhya Temple every year
from the last day of Sravana to the second day of Bhadra. An inspired
dance performed by a male dancer known as Deodha is the most significant
part of the festival.
Besides the above mentioned dances, there are some other folk dances of
Assam, which are performed entirely by woman. They are Devadasi,
Classical Dance Forms of Assam
was recognized as one of the major dance forms of India in the year 2000.
The graceful Sattriya style, which has all the ingredients of Indian
Classical dance, was created by the 15th century Vaisnava Saint
and reformer Shankardeva who was a great artist and musicians of rare
genius himself. The Sattriya dance numbers appended to the one act play
known as Ankia Bhaona which was composed by Shankardeva and his principal
apostle Madhadeva. Most of the Sattriya dance numbers belong to Ankia
Bhoona representing various stages and situations in a particular play in
Folk Elements in the classical forms
Folk culture is the basis of all the classical or refined forms of human
culture, like its counterparts in India, the classical Sattriya dance of
Assam grew out of the traditional synthesis of the ingenious cultural
Description and Analysis of Female Dances of Folk Form
Devadasi is a Sanskrit term, which literally means female servant of the
deity. This term has been in vogue in India in relation to religious
practice. Hayagriva Madhava Mandir of Hajo had a distinctive identity of
being a Visnuite temple unlike other centers of Devadasi culture of Assam.
Opinions vary regarding the antiquity of the tradition at various temples.
However, it is believed that the Devadasi tradition had been prevalent in
Hazo much earlier then the temple of Negherting and Dubi Mrdanga
and tall were the two main instruments that accompanied the dancers
here. The dancers were well trained in every aspects of music. During the
performance in the evening hour Nati used to cover their head and face
with transparent veils.
Deodhani is a ritualistic dance associated with Manasa culture or snake
worship and forms a part of an age old tradition of choral singing and
semi dramatic folk form known as Suknanni Ojapali, This Shamanistic dance
is usually performed by an unmarried girl who has to observe a number of
The Bihu dance is an integral part of the spring time. Bihu festival,
which is the most cherished festive occasion of joy and merriment for the
Assamese people. Bihu songs and dances performed by young man and woman
reflect youthful passion and sprit offspring season and also the
agricultural and pastoral experiences.
Description and Analysis of Female Dance of Classical form
The Sattriya dance of Assam has one of the major forms of India with all
the classical ingredients inherent in it. Cali Nac is one of the
most graceful of Sattriya dances which represents feminine grace and
sentiments. The guru carit puthis indicate that
was created by Madhabadeva in Barpeta Sattra. The
is consisted of three main parts, namely Ramdani, Gita nac
and Mela nac.
Gopi Bhangi represents the dance of the milkmaids of Vraja and other woman
characters of the dramas composed by Shankardeva and Madhavadeba. Among
the woman characters mention may be made of Yosoda, Rukmini, Sita,
Satyabhama etc. Gopi nac is divided into two parts Bajanar nac
and Slokar nac. The origin of Apsara nrtya is associated with the
story of Gobardhana Dharan by Krishna. In Auniti Sattra, this dance is
popularly known as Apsora nrtya and performed during Bohag and Magh
Bihu. In Dakshinpat Sattra this dance is known as Indra vishek
festival celebrated on the third day of Raslila. Sattriya dances
originally formed a part of the Sattriya drama. Sthana plays an
important role for both the male and female characters.