Gauri Jog explores Single Hand Gestures or Hasta Mudras in Indian Classical Dance Kathak, Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi such as Pataka, Mayur, Aral, Mushti, Shikhar, Kapitha, Suchi
Folk dances reflect the ideals, thinking process, customs, rites, religion and special features of the society in a natural way. Here is a short description of various folk dances from India.
Indian culture includes a treasure of a variety of folk dances. The diversity in culture and tradition is reflected in the variety of Indian folk dances too. The tradition of folk dances is continuing from Vedic period. Folk dances of each country reflect the customs, rites and behavior of each country.
Folk dances strengthen mutual relations and provide happiness and establish peace and harmony in the society. Folk dances are usually related to religious festivals, agricultural processes or natural or geographical conditions.
Folk dances reflect the ideals, thinking process, customs, rites, religion and special features of the society in a natural way. Here is the short descriptions of folk dances from India.
Here is brief review of folk dances from various regions of India.
FOLK DANCES OF CENTRAL INDIA
Jawara (Madhya Pradesh)
The Bundelkhand area of Madhya Pradesh, well known for its folk dance ‘Jawara’ reflects the great joy and excitement of the people for a good harvest season. The dance is performed by both men and women. The women wear colourful costumes and jewellery, balancing pots skillfully full of Jawara on their heads while dancing. The accompaniment includes a rich variety of percussion, stringed and wind instruments.
Karma, Jatra and Paika are some of the most important dances of Bihar. In the Bhadra month on Ekadashi day, a branch of the Karma tree is planted and worshipped by offering a ritualistic dance. Everybody from the elders to the children drink rice beer called Handia and dance for 3 days continuously. The dances of Bihar vary from religious to Adivasi dance. Chhau dance of the Saraikella of Southern Bihar is the most well known dance.
EASTERN INDIA FOLK DANCES
The folk dance of Bihar is known as Chhau dance, which depicts enormous vitality and virility. The word ‘Chhau’ comes from the Sanskrit root ‘Chhaya’ meaning shade. As masks form an important feature of this dance it is called ‘Chhau’, which means mask.
Chhau dance includes certain steps from ‘Pharikhanda’ which is a system of exercise. This system of exercise has been an important part of training of Sipahis. All the performers hold swords and shields while performing this exercise.(Bihar)
The stages are decorated and brilliantly lit by a large number of torches, lanterns and flickering oil lamps. Ragas of Hindustani music is the main base of the tunes. The musical instruments used are the Dhol ( a cylindrical drum), Nagara ( a huge drum) and sSehnais (reed pipes). The dance is performed by men and boys. As it is difficult to dance for very long with a mask, the dance does not last more than 7-10 minutes.
The three main elements of classical dance, namely Raga (melody), Bhava (mood) and Tala ( rhythmic timing) form an important aspect of Chhau dance. This is because it follows certain traditions of the classical mode. Chhau dance is an expression of a mood, state or condition. They also depict nature and the animal world. Sagara Nritya (ocean dance), Sarpa Nritya (serpent dance), Mayura Nritya (peacock dance), etc., are examples of the different forms of dances. The dance may also consist of themes taken from mythology and everyday life.
Chhau dance is a dance full of vitality and robustness, unlike any of the Indian dances. The entire body and entire being of the dancer is employed as a single unit, as his language. This body language is extremely poetic and powerful. The legs form an effective means of communicating the expression. Although the face is covered by the mask it mysteriously expresses the feelings to be communicated.
In Mayurbhanj, Chhau is performed mainly in Saraikella On the 25th day of the Chaitra month, the Lord Shiva invocated and the dances began.
Chhau is mainly a male dominated art. However in recent years women have taken to Saraikella and Mayurbhanj. The leading exponents of the Chhau in Saraikella have been the royal princes in Mayurbhanj, the lower classes, the rabble and Purulia farmers, tillers and the like.
Brita Dance (West Bengal)
West Bengal, the state which has given us many of our renowned poets, thinkers, artists, has a rich tradition of folk art. Brita or Vrita dance is one of the most important traditional folk dances of Bengal. This is an invocational dance performed by the barren women of Bengal who worship in gratitude after their wish is fulfilled. Quite often, this dance is performed after a recovery from a contagious disease like small pox, etc.
Kali Nach is another dance performed during Gajan, in honour of the Goddess Kali. Here, the performer wears a mask, purified by mantras, and dances with a sword, and when worked up can make prophetic answers.
The ‘Dalkhai’ is a dance performed by women of the tribes from the Sambalpur district of Orissa. It is quite a virile dance rendered during the time of festivals. The men generally play the musical instruments and the drummers often join the dance.
A dummy horse version is the Chaiti Ghorha, danced by a community of fisherfolk. The performers are all men. Apart from dancing, the performers sing, deliver homilies of sorts, and offer brief dramatic enactments peppered with wit and humour.
Dancing on stilts is fairly common among the Gond children of Madhya Pradesh. The dance is popular in the Vindhyas and the Satpura ranges. This is danced in the rainy season from June to August. The dancer who has his balance on the stilts (Gendi) perform even in water or on marshy surface. The dance is brisk, and ends with a dance in pyramid formation.
This is generally confined only to children and the attraction consists in balancing and clever footwork. In the villages where the wheat seedlings festival, Bhujalia, is celebrated, children prance on their gendis, collect near the village pond or the river in which bhujalias are to be immersed. Other children, dancing to the accompaniment of musical instruments join the group and they dance together. Sometimes, womenfolk also join them, but they do not use stilts.
The Gendi season begins on the day of Bak Bandhi festival in the month of June and concludes after the Pola dance celebrations in the month of August.
Goti Puas (Orissa)
It was thanks to the pioneering efforts of Ramchandradeva that Goti Pua (or boy dancers) came into being, during the latter half the 6th century.
The last of the great dynasties of Orissa had collapsed and the Mughals and Afghans were in the midst of a tug-of-war. Ramachandradeva, the Raja of Khurda (a principality in Orissa) had provided refuge to Mughal soldiers who had been defeated by the Afghan troops, and was consequently in the good books of Emperor Akbar. He was designated Gajapati or King of Orissa, with allegiance to the Mughal Viceroy. He was also appointed Superintendent of the Jagannath temple in Puri.
Ramchandradeva was not only an able ruler but also a sensitive and enlightened man. During his reign, maharis or devadasis attached initially only to temples, came to be patronised by the courts. It was in his time, too, and on his initiative, that another tradition of dance, came into being – the tradition of goti puas, the boy dancers.
Another reason that traces the emergence of goti puas is that the women dancing on the pretext of worship was greatly disapproved by Vaishnavas. So to eliminate the problem, the custom of dancing by boys dressed as girls was introduced. The boys are also students of akhadas, or gymnasiums established by Ramachandradeva in Puri, at the boundaries of the temple. Hence they were also known as Akhada Pilas -boys attached to akhadas.
The mahari and goti pua dance styles co-existed, each independently, but with common roots. The Odissi dance as we know it today has evolved from a curious amalgamation of both these dance traditions.
The word goti means ‘one’, ‘single’ and Pua, ‘boy’, but the goti puas always dance in pairs.
Boys are recruited at about the age of six and continue to perform till they are 14, then become teachers of the dance or join drama troupes. Goti puas are now part of professional teams, known as dals, each headed by a guru.
The boys are trained for about two years, during which, after having imbibed the basic technique, they learn items of dance, ornamental and expressional.
The goti puas, being youngsters in their formative years, can adapt their bodies to the dance in a far more flexible manner as opposed to the maharis.
Needless to say, one of the most demanding aspects of the dance tradition in Orissa – the bandha, which involves intricate contortions and positions of the body – is the domain of the sprightly goti puas.
A goti pua presentation is ably supported by a set of three musicians, who play the pakhawaj, the gini or cymbals and the harmonium. The boys do the singing themselves, though at times the group has an additional singer.
The goti pua performance is far more organised than that of the maharis, and includes items like Panchadevta Puja, Bhumi Pranam and Battu. A goti pua performance usually commences with Bhumi Pranam (salutation to Mother Earth), and wraps up with Bidahi Sangeet, a farewell song and dance item. The whole performance lasts around three hours.
During the Chandan Jatra festival, along with the maharis, goti puas are ferried in boats down the Narendra Sarovar, a holy tank in Puri, to perform before the deities. The Jhoolan Jatra, celebrated every August, is the ocassion when the goti puas completely overshadow the maharis.
Today, the surviving goti pua dals belong to villages and some prominent groups are from Dimirisena and Raghurajapur near Puri, and Darara, near Bhubaneswar. In the past goti pua artistes were patronised by Zamindars and were much in demand during festivals like Dol Purnima, or Holi and Dussehra.
Like the maharis their existence too is gradually fading into oblivion.
FOLK DANCES OF NORTH INDIA
Dumhal (Jammu & Kashmir)
The dance of the Kashmiris is called as ‘Dumhal’ with long colourful robes, tall conical caps, studded with beads and shells; the menfolk of the Wattal perform this dance on specific occasions. While dancing, the performers sing too, with drums to assist their music. The party of performers move in a ritual manner and dig a banner into the ground at a set location on set occasions. The dance begins with men dancing around this banner.
Hikat (Himachal Pradesh)
Hikat, danced by women, is a modification of a game played by children. Forming pairs, the participants extend their arms to the front gripping each other’s wrists and with the body inclined back, go round and round at the same spot.
Dance and music is a way of expression for the people of Himachal Pradesh. In all regions, people living in this place of natural beauty, embellish themselves for the dance at all times. The breathtaking landscapes and artistic history is garlanded by the passion for dance in this land.
The valley of Kulu, celebrates Dussehra with great grandeur and splendour. There is singing and dancing, around a collection of images of Raghunathji, brought from different temples. There are different dances for different occasions. Collectively all dances are called Natio. No festivals or social ceremonies go without dancing.
Namagen (Himachal Pradesh)
Different regions in Himachal Pradesh have different dances. In most of the dances, men and women dance together in a close formation.
The autumnal hue is celebrated in September by a dance performance called Namagen. The most striking dance amongst these is the Gaddis. The costumes are largely woollen and richly studded ornaments of silver are worn by women.
The dances in Uttar Pradesh range from simple performances to ceremonious ones. They are called the Doms and the Bhotiyas. Among these the Dhurang or Dhuring are related to death ceremonies. These dances aim to free the soul of the dead person from evil spirits. This dance has robust movements and remind one of the hunting dances of Nagas on the eastern borders of India.
Hurka Baul (Uttar Pradesh)
The Jhumeila, the Chaunfla of Garhwal and the Hurka Baul of Kumaon are seasonal dances. The Hurka Baul is performed during paddy and maize cultivation. On a fixed day, after the preliminary ritual, the dance is performed in different fields by turns. The name of the dance is derived from hurka, the drum which constitutes the only musical accompaniment, and baul, the song. The singer narrates the story of battles and heroic deeds, the players enter from two opposite sides and enact the stories in a series of crisp movements. The farmers form two rows and move backwards in unison, while responding to the tunes of the song and the rhythm of the players.
A famous dance of Kumaon, Uttar Pradesh, is the Chholiya, performed during marriages. As the procession proceeds to the bride’s house, male dancers, armed with swords and shields, dance spiritedly.
Amongst the occupational groups, the most enthusiastic dancers are the dhobis, the chamars and the ahirs. The dhobis dance to celebrate any significant occasion. They sing and dance on the occasion of a birth or marriage, and during Holi or Dussehra. There are Rasa Dances that revolve around the early life of Krishna.
The most interesting group of dances are the dances of the agricultural community which revolve round the annual seasons and which have a ritualistic and a functional dimension.
One of the most popular dances of India performed during Baisakhi by the men in Punjab is the ‘Bhangra’. Among the most virile and captivating dances of India it includes tricks and acrobatic feats. The songs include recitation of meaningless ‘bolis’, words, such as hoay, hoay.
The drummer usually in the centre of the circle, is surrounded by men dressed in lungis and turbans. The dance performed by the women folk of Punjab is called the ‘Gidha’. In the Gidha, at a time a woman or a pair of women dance while the others clap in rhythm. The dance is performed in the festival of Teeyan to welcome the rains. This dance also includes a step when women go round and round with feet planted at one place.
Jhoomer is a dance of graceful gait and self-surrender and is, sometimes called the cool dance of Punjab. This is also performed in a circle. Dancers dance around a single drummer standing in the centre.
Luddi is also a male dance of Punjab. It is danced to celebrate a victory. The performers place one hand at the back and the other before the face copying the movement of a snake’s head.
Jalli is a religious dance associated with the Pirs. It is usually performed in a sitting posture. Sometimes it is also danced round the grave of a preceptor.
Read more about Bhangra Folk Dance in Harvest Folk Dances.
The folk dance of Haryana is known as the ‘Dhamyal’ or the ‘Duph’. The dance can be performed by men alone or with women. The Duph which is a circular drum is played nimbly by the male dancers as they dance. In Haryana during the spring after work in the fields has been done with comes the time for celebration. Lahoor is the dance performed by women accompanied with songs which are phrased by witty questions and witty replies.
NORTH EASTERN FOLK DANCES
The folk dance of Assam is called ‘ Bihu’. Everybody from the young to the old, rich and poor take delight in the dance which is a part of the Bihu festival. The festival comes in mid-April, during the harvesting time which lasts for a month. During the day all the young men and girls gather and dance together though they do not mix much. Drums and pipes are played and usually love songs are sung. The dances are performed in circles or parallel rows.
The Dances of the Nagas portray the sense of fun and zest in their life. The Zemis, Zeliangs and other tribes of Assam have a series of dances. Harvesting season is naturally the time for celebrations. All the Naga tribes have their particular harvest dances. The characteristic feature of all Naga dancing is the use of the human figure in an erect posture with many movements of the legs and comparatively little use of the torso, and the shoulders. Khamba Lim is performed by two groups of men and women who stand in two rows. A similar dance is known as the Akhu.
Hajgiri is the folk dance of Tripura, the land of a large tribal population. The dance is performed by young girls who demonstrate a series of balancing skills and instruments of their kind. The dances are a part of their ceremony to appease the goddess Lakshmi, to ensure a happy harvest, as cultivation forms a main source of their livelihood. The compounds of their own houses are used as dancing grounds by men and women during principal festival.
To celebrate the remembrance of the evolution of Khasis, indigenous democratic states called Hima, ‘Nongkrem’ dance is performed during autumn at Smit, in Meghalaya. The Khasis are a tribe of Meghalaya who also celebrate the ripening of paddy for threshing, by dances and songs.
The Thang-ta dance of Manipur was an evolution from the martial arts exercises encouraged by the kings of Manipur. The dance is exciting and is performed by young men holding swords and shields. One of the instruments that dominates Manipuri dances is the drum. Dhol Cholom, a drum dance is one of the dances performed during Holi.
The folk dances capture the movements of everyday life as well as animals and birds.
In Arunachal Pradesh, an organised group of tribal performers perform dances, plays, musical scripts, dance dramas based on stories of Buddha. The dancers wear masks of demons or animals described in the tales of Buddha and splendid costumes. These are mostly performed in monasteries during festivals.
In Sikkim the men are attracted more towards the monastic style of dancing, while the women have their own folk dance. The dances of Sikkim are different than those of Indian traditions. Masks used in dances are something close to Indian cultural dances.
NORTH WEST FOLK DANCES
Dandiya is the folk dance of Rajasthan, which shows the great vigour and joy of the people there. Dressed in colourful costumes these people of the desert play skillfully with big sticks in their hands. The dances are accompanied by the musical instrument called the ‘Meddale’ played by the drummer in the centre. Ghumer dance, Raika and Jhoria are other dances of the ‘Bhils’ of Rajasthan. Similar to the Bhils are the Mina tribe who are known for the Gher Dance, while the Garasias are famous for the ‘Valar’ dance.
‘Tarpha Nach’ or ‘Pavri Nach’ is the dance of the Kokna tribals from the hilly regions of the north-west. These dances get their names from the instruments of ‘Tharpa’ or ‘Pavri’, which are wind instruments made of dried gourd, played during the dance. The performers dance in a close formation, holding each other by the waist. The dances are also performed by men alone. They form pyramids or rapidly revolve a dancer round a stout pole.
Tera Tali (Rajasthan)
Two or three women of the ‘Kamar’ tribe perform the Tera Tali. They sit on the ground while performing the Tera Tali which is an elaborate ritual with many other rituals in it. Small metal cymbals called Manjiras are tied to different parts of the body, mostly on the legs. The dancers hold cymbals in their hands and strike them in a rhythmic manner. At times the women clench a sword in between their teeth and a decorative pot is balanced on the head. The women cover their head with a veil.
FOLK DANCES OF SOUTH INDIA
One of the most colourful and enchanting dances of Southern Kerala associated with the festival of certain temples is called Padayani or Paddeni. These temples are formed in the districts of Alleppey, Quilon,, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts. The main kolams (huge masks) presented in Padayani are Bhairavi (Kali), Kalan (god of death), Yakshi (fairy), Pakshi (bird), etc. The literal meaning of Padayani is military formations or rows of army, in folk art. It involves a series of divine and semi divine impersonations weaving Kolams of different shapes and colours and designs painted on the stalks of arecanut fronds.
The performers consist of dancers or actors, singers who recite different poems for different Kolams and instrumentalists who play wild and loud rhythms on their drums called Thappu and Cymbals, etc. The actors or dancers wear Kolams which are huge headgears with many projections and devices with a mask for the face or a chest piece to cover the breast and abdomen of the performer. All the dancers singers and instrumentalists form a procession of Kali and her spirits returning after the killing of the ‘Asura’ chief Darika.
Kummi (Tamil Nadu)
Kummi and Kolattam, which is an extension of Kummi, are dances performed by the tribal women during festivals.Kummi is simple where dancers form circles and clap as they dance. The only difference in Kolattam is the use of small wooden rods in their hands which are struck in rhythm instead of clapping.
Kargam (Tamil Nadu)
One of the most essential parts of a ritual, dedicated to Mariamma, the goddess of health and rain, is the Kargam. It is performed by men, wherein they balance pots filled with uncooked rice, surrounded by a tall conical bamboo frame covered with flowers. Drums and long pipes form the musical instruments accompanying the dance.
SOUTH WEST FOLK DANCES
Dollu Kunitha (Karnataka)
It is a popular drum dance of Karnataka. The large drums are decorated with coloured cloth, and are slung around the necks of men. The dances are at times accompanied with songs relating to religious praise or wars. The dance is performed with quick and light movement of the feet and legs. The tribes of Karnataka are basically hunters and food gatherers. They are stocked with a regular précis of songs and dances of hunting, food gathering and burial funeral rites. Kavadis are ritual dances for the worship of Lord Subramanya. At harvest time the Dodavas of Karnataka perform the Balakat, the Dollu Kunitha mentioned earlier forms a part of the ritualistic dances which come under ‘Kumitha’. Devare Thatte Kunitha, Yell-ammana Kunitha, Suggikunitha are each, dances related to the name of a deity or instrument which is balanced on the head or held in the hand.
Ghode Modni (Goa)
Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for many years. Hence, the European influence is very strong andis quite evident in the annual Carnival.
The brave deeds of the Goan warriors is expressed in their dance Godhe Modni (dummy horse presentation) where the attractively dressed dancers perform armed with swords. Three days in a row the people are in a mood for fun and frolic. There are elaborate parades and spectacular processions other than the dances of the boys and girls.
Lava Dance of Minicoy (Lakshadweep)
The dances of Dadra and Nagar Haveli depict their own uniqueness. Throughout the moonlit nights, the tarpa dancers encircle the Tarpakar and tap their feet while dancing. One of the most colourful of their dances is the Mask dance or Bhavada.
An important feature of the Nritya aspect of Kathak dance is the Nayak-Nayika Bheda, or the distinction between the male and the female characters.
The most essential quality of a dancer is his or her natural appearance. One’s individual or god-gifted appearance can undoubtedly be made more beautiful and attractive by make up, dress and ornaments. Natural appearance of a dancer is the keynote of his success. Natural appearance or handsomeness or prettiness by birth does not only mean fair complexion, but healthy, proportionate, well-built, attractive body. Beautiful nose, lips, eyes, face, height, teeth, fingers etc are the basic ingredients of a beautiful physique. Ordinary height, thin lips, big eyes, long and thin fingers etc. are the characteristic feature of a handsome body.
A beautiful body is not the criterion of a dancer. He or she should be healthy and free from any disease. Dancing is a good exercise for health. So an unhealthy dancer is unable to do the strenuous exercise meant for dancing. Hence the second quality of a dancer is healthy body.
Besides good appearance and healthy body the dancer should have training from a good teacher. The dancer’s guru must be a proficient dancer and an expert trainer. The dancer’s success largely depends on his or her dancing education received from a good teacher.
The dancer must do Riaz, or constant practice of the art, or whatever he or she has learnt from his or her guru. Laya plays a prominent part in Nritya. So a dancer should be Layadaar, that is to say, he or she should not commit any mistake in rhythm and time beats, for which he or she has to practice regularly with the help of tabla and pakhawaj.
A dancer, in addition, should not be addicted to any intoxication. Introxicated dancer is apt to lose his or her established fame.
The dancer should also be self-confident, and should have reliance on his or her training and knowledge of dancing, attained after vigorous labor. A dancer, when he or she loses confidence on the stage is invariably booed and derided by the onlookers.
The Parhant system or the practice of reciting bols by the dancer on the stage with claps on the time beats is traditional. Good recitation conveys clearly the intricacies of the bols to the audience. A dancer’s recitation should be forceful and attractive.
The Sanskrit treatises on literature and dance have drawn a number of distinctions between male and female characters according to their respective attitudes and temperaments. This distinction is known as Nayak-Nayika Bheda. The earliest work giving a reference to this distinction is undoubtedly Bharata’s Natra Shasrta (2nd century A.D., it was composed in the last quarter of the 10th century A.D. during the reign of Munja, Vaakpatiraja II, the king of Malwa). Later on, scholars gave much more importance and discussed at great length the Nayak-Nayika Bheda in literature. During the Moghul period, an account of the licentious characters of the Muslim kings, Nawabs and chiefs, unhealthy elements were introduced in the female roles, prompting the literature to incorporate certain coquettish sentiments and amorous writings in their works. These writers also took the help of certain old books and apparently wrongly attributed an improper meaning to them. They cited Kalidasa’s Kumar Sambhawom and Jaideva’s Git Govinda, without actually realizing their spiritual, devotional and artistic qualities.
The significant and major limb of Kathak possesses Rasa and Bhava which have close bearing on the Nayak-Nayika temperaments.
Man has been divided into three categories, according to his qualities and temperaments and those three divisions are Uttam (best), Madhyam (mediocre) and Adham, (base). An Uttam person speaks the truth, behaves well, is learned, large and kind hearted, ready to sacrifice comfort and pleasures, reserved by nature, always eager to help others and can control his senses. Madhyam persons are well-behaved, clever, and experts in arts and crafts. The last category includes persons of low types, wicked, mischievous, ill-mannered, deceitful, angry, jealous, proud, passionate sinful, negligent, harmful and men of evil design.
According to religion there are three types of Nayaks, Pati, Upapati and Vaishik. Pati or a married husband, has been divided into five classes :- Anakul (favorable), Dakshin (clever and dextrous, Dhrishta (impertinent), Shatha (dishonest) and Anabhigna (inexperienced). Upapati or a paramour has been divided into two classes. Those who are Vaak Chatur or cunning in talks and Kriya Chatur or cunning in action. Vaishik or a person who makes elopement with a prostitute has been classified in two groups : rnaani and proshit: proud and staying in a foreign country respectively.
Bharata in his Natya Shatra has enumerated five types of men with regard to their love affairs (Kamitantra) in chapter 25 (Slokas 53-63). Bharata says that with reference to their dealings (lit. application) with women, they are of five types such as “excellent” (chatur, lit. clever), “Superior” (Uttama), “Midling” (Madhyama), “inferior” (Adhama) and “too old” (Sampravriddlm). (Slokas 53 and 54).
A man is known to be “excellent”, when he is sympathetic, able to endure hardship, skilled in pacifying anger in connection with love, expert in sexual acts and is honest. (Sloka 55)
A man is to be known as superior, when he does not do anything displeasing, is exalted (Dhirodaatta), sweet tongued, dignified and knows thoroughly the mysteries of (human) feelings (lit. heart). One who is sweet (in manners), munificent and feels love, but is not overcome by passion, and when insulted by a woman gets disgusted with her, is (to be known as) a “superior” man. (Slokas 56 and 57).
A man who takes in every way the (emotional) states of a woman with calmness and is disgusted with her on discovering any fault of her, is to be known as “middling” (Sloka 58).
A man who makes a gift in proper time, does not have much anger even when he is insulted, but on discovering her art of deceit gets disgusted with a woman, is to be known as middling (Sloka 59).
A man who shamelessly approaches a woman with a steadfast love even when she has insulted him and loves her more strongly in spite of a friend’s advice to the contrary even when he has come to know of her deceit is to be known as “inferior” (Slokas 60 and 61).
A man who does not care for fear or anger, is foolish, naturally inclined to women, obdurate, shameless in acts of love, rough in love-quarrels (and) in striking connected therewith, a laughing stock (lit. plaything) of women is to be known as “too old” (Slokas 62 and 63).
In accordance with habits and attitudes a Nayak has been divided in four classes. Dhiroddhata, Dhirodaatta, Dhirlatita and Dhirprashanta.
Dhiroddhata Nayaks are proud, jealous, and dishonest, like Ravana, Kansa etc. Dhirodaatta Nayaks are never overcome by grief and anger. They are reserved, of firm conviction, modest and calm. Rama, Buddha etc. are the best examples of Dhirodaatta Nayaks. Generally Rajas come under the third classification of Nayak, which is Dhirlatita, and these characters are lovers of art, easy going, who want comfort, and are mild-tempered. Dhirprashanta Nayaks belong to the high and noble caste and social status. They are Brahmins and Vaishyas. They are endowed with Satwik (pure and noble) qualities and are of calm temperament.
There are eight ingredients of Satwik quality are : Sobha (luster), Vilas (luxury), Madhurya (sweet or joy), Gambhirya (serious), Sthairrya (calm), Tej (valor), Lalitya (graceful) and Audaarya (munificence).
Regarding the Nayikas, Bharata in his Natya Shastra has enumerated various types of women and heroines, viz., women of divine, Asura, Gandharva, Rakshasa, Naga, Pishacha, Yaksha types, women of various birds, snakes and animal types, and women of high family, home-maids and courtesans. He has also mentioned eight kinds of heroines in chapter XXIV of his treatise.
Nayika-Bheda has been determined by the social relationship of the different categories of women, which in old days sometimes called religious (Dharma-Bheda) relationship between man and woman. If the social contact is established by a conventional marriage, the Nayika is Swakiya: if it is against it, she is Parakiya, or belonging to others; and it is by the needs of profession, she is Samanya or a public woman.
Bharata essentially divides women into Vaishya, Kusaja and Preshya, which correspond to Samanya, Swakiya and Parakiya respectively. On the other hand, parallel to the Nayak Bheda he has given four Nayikas.
Swakiya Nayika is a chaste and modest lady, and is devoted to her husband. She dances for the pleasure of her husband, so her dance performance is limited to her husband only. Swakiya is of three kinds according to age :- Mugdha, Madhya and Praudha. It is futher divided into eight sub-divisions, viz.. Jyeshtha Kanishtha, Smarandha, Garhtarunya, Samastaratikovida Bhavonnata, Daravira and Aakraantanayaka. Mugdha Nayika is an adolescent woman who is tender both in limbs and temperamentally, as she is an inexperienced woman. She is simple and is easily pleased. She is seldom angry.
Dhanajaya Gupta in his book has elaborated the age-group classification. He mentions in his “Dasarupa”, Vayomugdha, Kamamugdha, Rativama and Kopansvadu for Mugdha Nayika’, Yauvanavati and Karnavati for Madhya-Nayika; Garhayanvana, Bhava-Pragalbha and ‘Rati-Pragalbha for Pragalbha Nayika.
In works of the principles of Sanskrit literature, Vishwanath has made further sub-divisions of Nayikas, the number of whose Alankaras has been increased from ten to eighteen. According to him Mugdha Nayika is of five kinds:- Prathama vatirna-Yanyoma, Prathama-Vatirna Madana Vihara, Rati-Vama, Manmrudu and Samadhik Lajjawati.
Madhya Nayika has been classified into five categories: Vichitra Sutra, Praruda-Ismara, Praruda-Yauvana, Ista-Pragalbha Vachana and Madhyama-Vradita.
Pragalbha Nayika has six voriations :- Ismarandha, Garha-Tarunya, Samasta-rata-kovida. Bhavonnata, Darvrida and Akratta.
According to Bhanudatta, which provides a foundation to Hindi Nayika Bheda, a Mugdha Nayika has been divided in three forms, viz., Anukrit Yauvana, Navorha and Vipralabdha-Navorha; Pragalbha Nayika in two, viz, Rati-Prita and Anandat Sumoha; whereas Madhya Nayika has no division.
Vishwanath has further considered only two kinds of Nayikas: Parakiya or Parodha and Kanyaka. Bramha Bhatta has given six types of Parodha and many more sub-divisions.
Madhya Nayika is an experienced woman who is well-versed in Shringara Shastra. Madhya Nayika has been sub-divided in seven more groups viz., Madhya-Dhira, who takes pleasure in making her husband repentant for committing an offence or error; Madhya-Dhira-Dhira, who shedding tears, makes her husband repentant for committing an offence or error; Madhya-Adhira, who makes her husband repentant for committing an offence or error by means of expressing harsh words and anger, Anya-Surat-Dukkhita, Garvita (Rupa garvita, Prem garvita and Maanavat), Yauvanavati and Kamavati.
Pragalbha Nayika is always proud of her youth and is well-versed in Shringara Shastra. She is ever watchful to make her body look pretty. Like a Madhya-Nayika, Pragalbha-Nayika has three main sub-divisions, viz., Pragalbha-Dhira, who conceals her anger and on the contrary exhibits too much formality through her sweet words. She is not keen in love making. Pragalbha-Dhira Dhira, who chastises the hero by means of her sarcastic remarks, and Pragalbha-Adhira, who angrily remarks the Nayak and also gives him trouble. The other sub-divisions of Praudha or Pragalbha are Ratiprita, Ananda sammohita, Surata Dukkhita, Garvita (Rupagarvita, Premgarvita and Maanavati), Garha yauvana, Bhava-Pragalbha and Ratl-Pragalbha.
There are two more sub-divisions in addition to the above mentioned ones, and those are Jyeshtha and Kanishtha. Jyeshlha is one, who receives much more attention and love from her husband, and Kanishtha gets less care. Mugdha has always got one character or Rupa, so she has no sub-division.
Parakiya Nayika has two main types, viz., Uurha and Anurha. Uurha is a married woman and Anurha is a spinster. Parakiya has the following sub-divisions : Udbuddha, Udbudhita, Surata Gupta (Bhuuta-surata-Sangopana, Vartman-Surata-Sangopana, Bhavishya-surata Sangopana (Guarded in past, present and futures) Vidagdha (adroit) Vachan Vidagdha, Kriya Vidagdha (by her speech and action). Lakshita (showing love openly) He-tu-Lakshita, Surata Lakshita, Kulata (unchaste) Anushayana (regretting for not being able to keep assignments with lovers (Sangeta vighathana, or Prathamanushayana, Bhavi Sanketanashta or Dmtiyanushayana, Ramanagmana or Tritiya-nushayana) Mohita (delighted).
Samanya Nayika is a courtezan, who is clever in arts, courageous and shrewd. She expresses false love for wealth, and mercilessly drives away the Nayak from her house after fleecing out money from him. Sometimes a courtesan cherishes true love for the Nayak.
Samanya Nayika has three main divisions :- Janani Adhina (under the tutelage of mother), Swatantrata (independent) and Niyama (regular).
There are further ten varieties of Samanya Nayika in accordance with their condition and behavior
- Swadhinpatika (Mugdha Swadhin Patika, Madhya Swadhin Patika, Praudha Swadhin Patika, Parakiya Swadhin Patika). Swadhinpatika is always very happy, because her husband stays with her, remains under her control and serves her.
- Vasaksajja (Mugdha Vasksajja, Madhya Vasaksajja, Praudha Vasaksajja and Parakiya Vasaksajja) Nayika waits with expectation and happiness for the arrival of her husband after fully dressed up and ornamented.
- Virahotkanthita (Mugdha Virahotkanthita, Madhya Virahotkanthita, Praudha Virahotkanthita, Parakiya Virahotkanthita) is unhappy as her husband never arrives in time.
- Khandita (Mugdha khandita, Madhya Khandita, Praudha khandita, Parakiya khandita). Nayika is one who is jealous on surmising that her lover is attached to any other woman.
- Kalahantarita (Mugdha Kalahantarita Madhy Kalahantarita, Praudha Kalahantarita Parakiya Kalaliaiitarita) woman does not take care of her husband as a sequel to quarrel but feels remorse.
- Vipralabdha (Mugdha Vipralabdha, Madhya Vipralabdha. Praudha Vipralabdha, Parakiya Vipralabdha) Nayika goes to meet her husband at a particular spot, but not finding him, she becomes dejected.
- Proshitpatika (Mugdha Proshitpatika, Madhya Proshitpatika, Praudha Proshitpatika, Parakiya Proshitpatika) is one whose husband is abroad.
- Abhisarika (Mugdha Abhisarika, Madhya Abhisarika, Praudha Abhisarika, Parakiya Abhisarika, Shuklabhisarika, Krishnabhisarika, Divabhisarika), who goes to her lover being blind with youth and who calls him.
- Pravatsyatpatika (Mugdna Pravatsyatpatika, Madhya Pravatsyatpatika, Praudha Pravatsyatpatika Parakiya Pravatsyatpatika) is one who is worried to hear the news of her husband who is about to leave for foreign countries.
- Agatpatika (Mugdha Agatpatika, Madhya Agatpatika, Praudha Agatpatika, Parakia Agatpatika) is happy on listening to the news of the return of her husband from another place.
Nayikas have again been divided according to nature. Those are Uttama, Madhyama and Adhama. Uttama is a well-wisher of her husband forever. Madhyama responds to the wishes of one, other than her husband, proficient in coquetry and suddenly becomes angry and all of a sudden again laughs with glee. Adhama is mischievous, wicked, harsh tongued, full of anger, and always goes against her husband.
Divisions have also been made of the Nayikas in accordance with their appearance. (1) Padmini (Pretty looking with less hair on the body, and one who has taste for the fine arts), (2) Chitrani (modest, humorous, one who loves music, one with middle stature, nose like the Til flower and eyes like the blue lotus), (2) Shankhini (thin bodied, immodest, proud, angry, and whose neck has wrinkles like a cone shell) and (4) Hastini (flabby, body full of hair, wrathful, violent and who walks like an elephant, moving the head up and down).
All the above mentioned classifications of the Nayaks provide a fundamental basis of the Ashtha (eight) Nayikas in Kathak dancing according to Avastha or situations which determine the mental state. A single Nayika may experience different situations from time to time; so a Kathak dancer has to make expositions of the Nayika Bhedas very cautiously adhering to the codified regulations, determining the period, time, attitude and psychological bent of mind of this spectator and the social set up, being packed by appropriate instrumental and vocal music.
The following are the Asta Nayikas:-
- Swadhinpatika (contended)
- Khandita (disconsolate at being betrayed by her husband or love)
- Abhisarika (one who reaches an appointed spot to meet her love)
- Kalantarita (one who has quarreled with the love and is repentant)
- Vipralabdha (one who is disgraced by the lover unresponsive of signals)
- Proshita-Patita (one whose husband is abroad, and is distressed at his absence)
- Vasakasajja (one who adorns herself with ornaments etc. waiting for her love)
- Virahotakanthita (frustrated by the non-arrival of the her love at the appointed time)
Nayikas have again been divided determining their nature in three groups, which are (I) Divya or having godly qualities, Adivya or having qualities of an average woman, and (3) Divyadivya or possessing godly qualities which are expected in any nice human being.
Kathak is a major classical dance form of Northern India.
Kathak is a major classical dance form of Northern India. The word Kathak comes from the original Sanskrit word “Kathakar” which literally means a story teller. “Katha” means a story and Kathakar means a storyteller. “Katha kare so Kathakar”, which meant “one who tells a story is a storyteller”. Traditionally these story tellers were both men and women, a woman storyteller was known as “Kathika” and a male storyteller was “Kathaka”. These so called nomadic bards of ancient northern India, performed in village squares and temple courtyards, mostly specialized in recounting mythological and moral tales from the scriptures, and embellished their recitals with hand gestures and facial expressions. It was quintessential theatre, using instrumental and vocal music along with stylized gestures, to enliven the stories.
With the advent of Mughal culture, Kathak became a sophisticated chamber art. Under the patronage of medieval rulers and Nawabs a class of dancing girls and courtesans emerged to entertain the palaces and courts. Medieval traditions imparted Kathak a distinct Hindu-Muslim texture. Patronized by art loving rulers, the practitioners of Kathak worked at refining its dramatic and rhythmic aspects, delighting elite audiences with their mastery over rhythm and the stylized mime.
The technique of Kathak today is characterized by fast rhythmic footwork set to complex time cycles. The footwork is matched by the accompanying percussion instruments such as tabla and pakhawaj, and the dancer and percussionists often indulge in a virtuoso display of rhythmic wizardry. The dance movements include numerous pirouettes executed at lightning speed and ending in statuesque poses. The interpretative portion, based on tales of Radha and Krishna and other mythological lore, contains subtle gestures and facial expressions.
Lucknow, Banaras and Jaipur are recognized as the three schools, or gharanas, where this art was nurtured and where the interpretative and rhythmic aspects were refined to a high standard.
In the court of Wajid Ali Shah, the Nawab of Oudh (a student of Kathak), Kathak dance emphasized dramatic and sensuous expression and developed into a distinct style called the Lucknow Gharana. This Gharana is said to have originated with Wajid Ali Shah’s court dancer Thakur Prasadji. The Lucknow gharana developed a style of kathak that is characterized by precise, finely detailed movements and an emphasis on the exposition of thumri, a semiclassical style of love song. The Jaipur gharana required a mastery of complicated pure dance patterns. Nowadays, however, performers present a blend of kathak based on the styles of both gharanas.
A traditional Kathak performance features a solo dancer on a stage, surrounded on all sides by the audience. The repertoire includes amad (the dramatic entrance of the dancer on stage); thaat (a slow, graceful section); tukra, tora, and paran (improvised dance compositions); parhant (rhythmic light steps), and tatkar (footwork).
Kathak dance can be performed by both men and women. A Kathak dancer is not required strictly to stick to fixed steps and stages in. He or she can change the sequence of steps to suit his or her skill and style of dancing. Male dancers perform in Persian costume of wide skirts and round caps, while female dancers wear a traditional Indian garment called a churidar pyjama.
The narrative and poetic repertoire of Kathak continues to expand into the twenty-first century, including epics, devotional, romantic and mystical poetry in all the major languages of North India. Poetry written in Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi and its dialects such as medieval Braj Bhasha and Avadhi reflects the mixed Hindu and Muslim roots of Kathak. The North Indian Hindustani style of classical music accompanies the dance, played by a musical ensemble that can include tabla and pakhawaj drums, sarangi, sitar, sarod, bamboo bansuri flute and vocalists.
Combining the spiritual fervor of the Hindu temple with opulent entertainment from the Moghul and Rajput courts, the Kathak dance tradition in the Twenty-first Century continues to evolve through the art of Kathak dancers in India and throughout the world. Enriched by contemporary literature, music and performance practice, Kathak responds to an increasingly global culture.