script) -->

West Bengal Dance

Displaying the inherent essence of various ecstatic expressions, the heritage of Dance speaks of an ancient tradition of Bengal. Rabindranath Tagore and Uday Shankar, the two famous figures of the past century, played a dynamic role in bringing the various Dance forms of Bengal into the forefront.

The present day Dance forms in Bengal represent an enticing range of expressive art skill that is performed by veteran Dancers of the state. While nritya-natya or Dance drama and classical Dances claim a special mention, there are many other equally captivating forms that are seen in the districts of West Bengal.

Tusu Parab

Tusu Parab derived its origin from the cultural roots of Birbhum district. Celebrated during the holy occasion of makara snakranti, Tusu Prab is performed only by the girls of Bengal. During the months of December to January, which is called in Bengali as paush, Tusu Parab is followed by the local people.

The young females of Birbhum are found making idols of Goddess Tusu with clay during the Parab. After completing the idol-making process, the girls go to a nearby river where they then sanctify themselves by taking a dip or two. After taking a bath, the females start praising the Goddess by singing various local songs. These very songs are known as Tusu in Bengal. A plate of rice is also offered to the deity on the occasion.

While some of the girls sing devotional verses, some others dance in sync with the vocal melodies. Tusu Parab in Bengal does not involve any kind of musical apparatus as such and is enriched by vocal variations only.

Jhumar Dance

An ancient dance type of Bengal, Jhumar is performed between the months of March to April which is collectively known as chaitra in Bengali. When the male groups enact Jhumar then their movements are accompanied by drums. While the females perform Jhumar by dancing and singing during paddy sowing periods.

Known as one of the pure forms of harvest celebration, Jhumar in Bengal also possesses beautiful connotations of Lord Krishna and Radha's eternal love for each other. The very essence of this adoration of two mythical figures is represented through the transplantation of paddy in the agricultural lands of Bengal.

The dance form remains as Jhumar at the time it is performed by the males of Bengal. However, the version in which the females participate is called by the name of Ashariya Jhumar. One interesting fact about Jhumar is that the intrinsic theme of the dance remains common irrespective of the gender of the dancers.

Chhau Dance

Initiated in the Baghmundi area of Purulia district, Chhau Dance is performed in Bengal to celebrate the sun festival. The colorful masks that are used by the Dancers during the performance have a unique artistic appeal. Themes of Chhau Dance are based on two historical Indian epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The general structure of Chhau Dance in Bengal comprises of a group of men some of whom enact the divine characters while some others play the role of demonic figures. The Dance primarily depicts the dynamic victory of the good spirits over the evil ones.

While the faces of the Chhau Dancers are covered with masks of various mythical characters, the expressions of the form are shown through movements of the hands and feet. Vigorous jumps, hops and other similar energetic moves of the Dancers set the mood of Chhau.

Performed during the night hours, Chhau Dance of Bengal demands an open area, generally village grounds, where the Dancers can freely make movements with their limbs. Chhau Dancers generally wear bright shades of clothes like that of green, red, yellow and black. Men who play the role of Gods use red, green and yellow colors, while those who enact the devils part wear black costumes.

Raibense Dance

Raibense Dance originated in the district of Bhirbhum in West Bengal. The inherent characteristics of this Dance involve majestical movements of several artificial war instruments. From shields and staves to trishuls and spears, all kinds of historical weapons are used by the Raibense Dancers.

As the special attraction of Raibense Dance lies in the skilled handling of various martial instruments hence while performing the art form the Dancers have to remain on high alert. On one hand musical accompaniments like dhols and others add beats to Raibense Dance. On the other hand, the elegant mastery of the performers over the weapons creates an irresistible appeal to the Dance.

Only after considerable practice sessions, the Raibense Dancers are allowed to perform on a public platform. The veterans of Raibense Dance are well-acquainted with every move of the form and hence know when and how to change their postures. Dancing with a straight torso is one of the common traits of Raibense Dance.

Last Updated on 21 March 2013