In the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh a fascinating dance called Churkula is performed close to the Holi festival. Some particular villages like Oomri, Khemri, Sonkh, Mukhrayi etc specialize in this dance and onlookers from even far off villages come to watch the dance. Different dates near about the Holi festival are fixed for different villages for the performance of the dance. Churkula actually is a fabrication of either iron or wood which is like a circular cage that holds 108 burning lamps. This is balanced on the head by the trained female dancer. While balancing the Churkula on her head, the dancer also holds in both her hands two burning lamps put on lamp stands and balancing the Churkula dances mostly in circular movements. It is basically a solo dance and is danced in darkness so that the dancer is not visible clearly, but the moving lamps will be visible. It is indeed a fascinating experience to watch Chirkula in its native atmosphere. The dance is accompanied by a huge drum with one face called Bamb. It is put on a wheeled frame work that is pulled by ropes tied to it and the drum is played by more than one players with thick blunt batons. Besides the huge drum, idiophones like Jhanj and Chimta are also played to provide the percussion music for the dance. When one dancer completes her round the Churkula is passed on to the head of another dancer. Since the Churkula is quite heavy, the dancers are fed with healthy food for a few months before the performance so that they have the required strength to balance the Churkula on their heads on the day of the performance.
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