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Folk / Regional / Tribal / Ritual / Martial dances

* 21 May 2022
Ghumura is a folk dance and a legacy of the district of Kalahandi.
Chatar Jatra is a traditional festival celebrated by the people of Kalahandi District, Odisha. The annual journey symbolises Maa Manikeswari ’s return from Jenakhal to the main temple. During the festival, a tribal dance is performed to please Maa Manikeswari, which is known as the Ghumura dance.  It is a dance performed with the traditional Ghumura Veer Badya instrument. The dancers tie the Ghumura (badya / instrument) on their shoulders and hang it tightly on their chests. Then there are groups playing Ghanta and others playing traditional instruments like ‘dhola’ and ‘nishan’ to demonstrate the rich heritage of the region, among others. Earlier, only one musical instrument from the royal family named ‘Dum Baza’ accompanied the procession of the deity.

* 9 Jan 2022
Khukuri Naach - Pinterest collection
Khukuri is a small knife that symbolizes victory. It generally has carved wooden handles with sharp blades. Khukuri is a very important part of Gurkha culture. Gurkhas display their triumph using a khukuri. It is a sign of robustness and power. Khukuri was designed for the warriors who won the battles and saved the pride of Gorkhas.

Khukuri Naach is performed by Gurkhas. In this folk dance, Khukuri is used as a prop. This knife is the soul of Khukuri Naach. The dancers perform various tricks using the Khukuri while dancing on the beats.
Khukuri dance not only symbolizes courage, but it also demands courage. Only the bravest are entrusted with a khukuri. It is not easy to balance Khukuri while following the beats and elegantly moving your feet. Since Khukuri dance includes the use of a dangerous knife, the movements are restricted. The dancers stand in their fixed position throughout the performance and use their legs to match the beat.
Source: Khukuri Dance - Gurkha Folk Dance by Navya Agrawal,

* 2 Jan 2022
Mudiyettu - Pinterest collection
Mudiyettu is a ritual dance drama from Kerala based on the mythological tale of a battle between the goddess Kali and the demon Darika. It is a community ritual in which the entire village participates. After the summer crops have been harvested, the villagers reach the temple in the early morning on an appointed day. Mudiyettu performers purify themselves through fasting and prayer, then draw a huge image of goddess Kali, called as kalam, on the temple floor with coloured powders, wherein the spirit of the goddess is invoked. This prepares the ground for the lively enactment to follow, in which the divine sage Narada importunes Shiva to contain the demon Darika, who is immune to defeat by mortals. Shiva instead commands that Darika will die at the hand of the goddess Kali. Mudiyettu is performed annually in ‘Bhagavati Kavus’, the temples of the goddess, in different villages along the rivers Chalakkudy Puzha, Periyar and Moovattupuzha. Mutual cooperation and collective participation of each caste in the ritual instils and strengthens common identity and mutual bonding in the community. Responsibility for its transmission lies with the elders and senior performers, who engage the younger generation as apprentices during the course of the performance. Mudiyettu serves as an important cultural site for transmission of traditional values, ethics, moral codes and aesthetic norms of the community to the next generation, thereby ensuring its continuity and relevance in present times.

After Koodiyattam, the oldest Sanskrit theatre tradition, Mudiyettu is the second Kerala art form being included in the UN list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Mudiyettu is a ritual performance that involves rituals, music, dance, and theater. Evolved at Kali temples on the shores of rivers, it is connected with the worship of the Mother Goddess in central Travancore. A village festival celebrating rich harvest, Mudiyettu is a thanks offering to Mother Nature. It traces its origin to the days of Parasuraman, the legendary founder of Kerala. The caste known as Kuruppu is the custodian of this ritual art. Hence it cannot claim tribal origin. However, Dravidian aspects are there which show a merger of two populations, the ethnic and the settlers.
Today Mudiyettu is carried on as annual festivals associated with certain temples. The ritual art has three stages: kalam varkkal, drawing of the stylized figure of Bhagavathy on the floor; Kalam pooja, ritual adorations and Kalam maikkal, the performance part.
Mudiyettu is a stylized drama, the roots from which Koodiyattam, the world famous Sanskrit drama, must have sprung. The costume and the masque remind one of Kathakali. The dialogue spoken is a mixture of poetry, prose and nonsensical sounds in old Malayalam, the roots from which the spicy Chakyar Koothu must have sprung.
It has the sophistication of drama divided into seven scenes that move from Kailasam (the abode of Lord Siva, to Asura Lokam (home of demons), and from Earth to Paathalam, the lowest of the three worlds in Indian imagination.
Source: Mudiyettu by Padma Jayaraj,, December 7, 2010

* 2 Jan 2022
Theyyam - Pinterest collection
Theyyam dance of ancestor worhip is a ritual art form of Kolathunadu (Kingdom of Cannanore) among the communities like Vannan, Malayan, Mavilan, Velan, Munnoottan, Anjunnoottan, Pulayar, Kopalar performed from the month of Thulam (October/November) upto June.
The performer actually assumes the role of the hero or God and the viewers actually worhip the performer seeking his blessings. The accompanying instruments are Chenda, Veekan Chenda (Veekkuchenda), Ilathalam (Elathalam), Kuzhal (Kurumkuzal).  In the first part Vellattam or Thottam, the performer gives a sort of introduction without the make up.  Depending on the character played, the performer dons different flamboyant costumes, majestic headgear and paints his face accordingly with natural colours extracted from Chayilyam, Karimazhi, Aripodi and Maniyola.
There are over 400 separate Theyyams, each with their own music, style and choreography. The most prominent among these are Raktha Chamundi, Kari Chamundi, Muchilottu Bhagavathi, Wayanadu Kulaven, Gulikan and Pottan.
From December to April, there are Theyyam performances in many temples of Kannur and Kasaragod. Karivalloor, Nileswaram, Kurumathoor, Cherukunnu, Ezhom and Kunnathoorpadi in North Malabar are places where Theyyams are performed annually (Kaliyattam) and draw huge crowds.

* 5 Nov 2021
Pili Yesa
Pili Yesa - Pinterest collection
Also spelt differentnly as Pili Yesha, Pili Vesa, Pili Vesha, Huli vesha.
Pili Yesa or Tiger dance is a traditional folk dance of the Tulu regions of Karnatka and Kerala, that originated  in Udipi, Karnataka.  It is traditionally performed during Janmashtami (Krishna Jayanthi), Dusshera (Dasara) during the Goddess Sharada procession, Ganesh Chaturthi, both as a religious offering to the Gods and also as a ritual performance.
Pili vesha means Tiger form or in tiger costume.  Pili in Tulu means a tiger.  Young boys and men wear a brief costume with a tail and paint their bodies as a tiger, leopard or cheetah.  Sometimes a tiger mask is also worn. They mainly perform during the Sharada procession but also give short performances on street sides to collect the contributions made by the public who gather to view the performance.