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Dances of West Bengal

There are five main dances practiced in West Bengal. They are the Brita, the Chaau, the Tusu, the Santhal, and Gambhira. Brita is one of the popular folk dances of West Bengal. It is an invocation dance, generally performed by barren women. Through this dance, the dancers invoke the blessings of Gods so that they are blessed with a child. This dance is also performed after recovering from a contagious disease.

The Chaau is a masked dance. In West Bengal, this dance form is centred around the Purulia region. It is a very vibrant dance form and is usually performed by males, with the accompaniment of drum beats or the music of bamboo flutes. No song accompanies the dance, and the dancer also doesn't utter a word. The dancer has to communicate the emotions and tensions of the character he portrays only through body movements. The dance is very vibrant and is accompanied with acrobatic feats. The themes of these dances mostly revolve around the two epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana.

The Santhals are worshippers of nature, and to that end, the community (mostly women) performs different kinds of vibrant dances to the sound of sweet music.

Gambhira is popular in north Bengal, especially in the Maldah district. It is performed by a pair of dancers, one representing the grandfather, and the other, the grandson. The characters of the dance voice contemporary social, political and moral concerns through their dances. The dance also involves songs, and dialogues in both prose and verse. The supporting instrument to the dance is the dhak, which is a big drum, harmonium and flute. The artistes also wear masks.

Rava dance is another dance of West Bengal, which is practiced in the northern parts of the state. It is performed by the women of the Rava community. The dances are colourful and rhythmic, accompanied by melodious music. The themes of the dances vary from the chores of daily life to joys of various festivals.

Last Updated On: 2011/07/12