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11 Dance Forms from Odisha That Depict the Underrated Richness of Oriya Culture

A visit to Odisha should be a must for everyone who enjoys India's cultural heritage. It is a land of diverse culture and rich tradition, with a great variety of languages, cuisine, music, and dance. The state has various beautiful ancient dance forms that have been the love of many dancers for centuries. They not only reflect the ancient times, but also the culture of the state. 

So, we bring to you a list of the various graceful dance forms from the state, each distinctive in its own way.

Odissi

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This is the most popular dance form from Odisha that is known worldwide for its grace and royalty. This unique classical dance form has its origins in the temples of the state. The dance has evolved for years under three schools which are namely Mahari, Nartaki, and Gotipua

Chhau

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This is an ancient dance form which originated from the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. This is a warrior dance which is done on indigenous music and was founded during the mock fights of paikas (warriors). This is a rhythmic dance form and is generally performed during the Chaita Parva. The costumes and the masks that these dancers wear is of vital importance as they convey the emotions of the dancer.

Gotipua

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This is the dance form from which Odissi originally came from. This dance is mostly performed by young boys, who dress up as females and wear beautiful ornaments. The boys who perform this dance are between six to 14 years of age. They not only perform this dance with sophistication, but also grace. It has high degrees of technique and presentation.

Sambalpuri folk

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This is a folk dance from western Odisha, and is influenced by both tribal and rural cultures. This is a high-energy dance form and is performed by various tribes in Odisha. The instruments used in this dance form are dhol and mahuri.

Ghumura

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Ghumura is a folk dance from the Kalahandi district of Odisha. From the dresses to the ornaments, everything in this dance form reflects the rich folk culture of Odisha. Researchers claim that this is a war dance from ancient India that was performed by Ravana in Ramayana. This dance can be found in the carvings of the Sun Temple of Konark.

Mahari

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This dance form is known as Parijata flower of Utkal (Odisha). This is a devadasi dance form and is performed in front of Lord Jagannath. It depicts the union of Lord Jagannath and the great Nari Mahari. This art form depicts the emotions of devotion, love, and life.

Ranapa

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Another popular dance form is Ranapa. It comes from the southern part of the state. This dance form is performed on stilts. The songs, which are related to the childhood stories of Lord Krishna, are accompanied by music which is played on drums.

Jodi Sankha

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Jodi Sankha or double conch is a depiction of rural music through dance. The artists in this dance wear colourful costumes and dance to melodious music while blowing the conch. This form comes from the Ganjam district. 

Ghoda Dance

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This form is also known as the dummy horse dance. This is a folk dance form performed by the fishermen community of Odisha. The Rauta, who is the male character in the dance is the main singer who also plays the role of narrator, while the Rautani, the female character plays the role of his wife and co-singer.

Bagha Nacha

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Bagha Nacha is also known as the tiger dance. In this dance, the male dancers paint their bare body with yellow and black stripes like that of a tiger’s skin, and even attach a tail to resemble a tiger. 

Karma Naach

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Karma, which literally means ‘fate’ in Kosli Oriya, is performed during the worship of the goddess of fate (Karamsani Devi). This dance form is popular among tribes like the Binjhal, Kharia, Kisan, and Kol tribes in the districts of Balangir, Kalahandi, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, and Mayurbhanj. 

Which dance forms have you seen, and would like to experience now?

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