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Ghanta Patua

Performer of Ghanta Patua dance

For the whole month of Chaitra the village streets in Orissa reverberate with the sound of Ghanta (brass gong) played by Ghanta Patuas in accompaniment to their peculiar dance on the stilts which is very similar to the Karaga dance of Mysore.

In Orissa, it is closely associated with the worship of Mother Goddess who has various names as Sarala, Hingula, Charchika, Bhagavati, Chandi etc. Ghanta Patuas are the non-Brahmin servitors of the deities. With the blessings of the respective deities attached to the shrines, they set out in groups of two to four dancers. One of them dresses himself as a female with a black color bandana tied on the head like a round cap while the flowing two ends held by him in both the hands separately. He places the Ghata (sacred pitcher) on his head which is beautifully decorated with flowers, vermilion, sandal paste and colored threads. With the Ghata on the head, he displays a variety of Yogic postures. Then he dances a while on a single rope drawn parallel to the ground. Without any support for the hands the dancer displays rare skills of body movements. Dhol and Ghanta are the accompanying instruments and their players, while working out uncanny rhythms control the tempo of the dance. After the performance, the dancers offer holy vermilion paste to the villager and collect money and grains. They move from village to village to showcase their dance skills and get paid in cash or kind for the whole month. They return to their respective shrines for their annual celebration on the first day of the Hindu New Year, Visuva Sankranti. Such celebrations are marked by small fairs and ornate rituals connected with the worship of Goddesses together with performances of dance and music.

 

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