Mahari Dance



Mahari Dance is one of the important dance forms of Orissa. Mahari dance of Orissa, originated in the temples of Orissa. History of Orissa provides evidence of the 'Devadasi' cult in Orissa.
Devadasis were dancing girls who were dedicated to the temples of Orissa. The Devadasis in Orissa were known as 'Maharis' and the dance performed by them came to be known as Mahari Dance.

It was during the reign of Chodagangadeva, Maharis were employed in the temples of Puri. After Chodagangadeva's death, Ananabhimadeva built Natyamandapa in the Jagannath temple for the dance performances inside the temple. Moreover, in those days, the Mahari dancers belonged to different categories namely, the 'Nachunis' (dancers), the Bahara Gauni, the Bhitara Gauni and the Gaudasanis.

The Mahari Dancers of Orissa are supposed to follow certain restrictions, such as:
  • They cannot enjoy.
  • They should dance on the ceremonies connected to Lord Jagannath.
  • They should adhere to the specifications made by the Sastras.
  • They must always wear clean cloths.
  • The dancer cannot be physically handicapped.
  • At the time of the performances, the dancers are not supposed to look at the audience.
  • The Maharis are married to the Lord at the age of nine.
  • Before their performances, the Mahari dancers pay their obeisance to the Lord.
In Orissa, one can also come across another type of Mahari dancers, who are known as 'Samarpada Niyoga'. The duty of the 'Samarpada Niyoga' is to dance during the ceremonial procession of the deities. These dancers perform during the Ratha Yatra, Jhulana Yatra, Dola Yatra, etc.



Last Updated on : 22/06/2013