Dr. Basanta Kumar Mohanta

    As most of the dance items exhibit vim and vigour moods, in the earlier days this Chhau dance had been performed only by the mole artists, even if, the role of female characters are also played by the male artists dressed in female costume. Apart from his own view, Mohanta (1993:12) has analyzed about five basic causes responsible for the non-participation of female artists in Chhau dance. These are the important factor accountable for their non-participation.
    These are some major causes responsible for the male dominance in the Mayurbhanj Chhau dance.
(a) Physical Labour
    Most of the dance items express the mood of vim and vigor and because of this these dance items are very painstaking and laborious in nature. For performing a dance item, an artiste has to practice regularly which gives pain to the delicate body of o female artiste.
(b) Degradation in Social Status
    In orthodox society an adult girl going to clubhouse or Akhara for practicing Chhau dance or to go outside their village for performing Chhau dance, is negatively viewed by the society. These girls are called as ‘Nachini’ – a dancing girl. Nobody agrees to marry a Nachini girl because of her free mixing with boys. Traditional people do not like their women to roam with dance troups and show their body to lustful eyes of men.
(c) Problem in Natural Expression
    In some of the dance items like, Premiko – Premika, Nishith – Milan etc. both the male and female characters jointly express some erotic moods. As because all these male dancers are belonging to their own village and sometimes, from their own kin and relatives, they would not like to dance with the female members of their own relatives. Secondly the grown up girt or elderly girl would not feel easy to express such type of dance items in front of the elderly mole members of their family and relatives.
(d) To Protect from Unsociable Activities
    As discussed above, the rural and tribal people of Mayurbhanj are very orthodox in nature. Looking towards the fast growing crime in society and unsociable activities happening in the day-today life, the parents do not allow to go their matured girls outside their houses which indirectly cause the non-participation of female artists in Chhau dance.
(e) Disturbances in Education
    Presently all the parents are interested for female education and accordingly they are sending their girls to schools and colleges. To face their daily routine work and high competition the girls are also spending their time in studying various subjects. As Chhau dance needs a regular practice, it makes disturbances in their study. Because of this, some guardians do not allow their girls to take part in Chhau dance.
(f) Disturbances in Domestic Work
    Until her marriage, a girl in a rural family of Mayurbhanj gives a major economic support to her parental family. She helps her mother in her day-to-day household works. This participation in household activities indirectly becomes training for the girl, which gives idea to manage herself in in-laws house after her marriage. A girl should prove to be good homemaker not public entertainer.
New Trends
    Now with changed environment, people have accepted girl’s participation as a source of income. Chhau dance has been widely acclaimed. Many Chhau Nrutya Prathisthan or dance schools have been established and they are interested to include female artists and train them accordingly. These female artists are also trying their best to perform a good and attractive dance. Viewers also like to see female role to be played by women. The orthodox social views are now melting.
To falsify the concepts of non-participation of female artists in Chhau dance, Mohanta (1995:31-32) has opined that "Many persons, even if those who are very closely related to the Chho dance believed that, Chho is such a dance which only express the mood of vim and vigour and hence there is no place for female artists. But from the close study of its Tobkas and Ulfies it is evident that, out of the six tobkas half of the tobkas i.e. Sada, Lohra and Muda tobkas express Loashya mood, whereas others like Dhew, Duba and Uska tobkas express Tandava mood. Like this, out of the 36 Ulfies practised in present time, almost half of the Ulfies express Laashya mood."
Now-a-days many of the female artists are exhibiting their dance at different places and getting rewards. Example may be cited from Sulachana Mohanta, a female artiste of Chitrada Chhau Nritya Pratistha, who performed wonderful dance in Tamuria Krishna at Banga Sanskriti Sammelan in 1973 at Calcutta and received prize from the honorary President of India (Mahato, 1987:49). The other renowned female Chhau dancers are Sumitra Devi, Bimbadhari Sahu, Molly Mohanta, Dipti Das, Usha Mohanta, Susila Mohanta, Jayanti Mohanta and Malabati Mohanta (Mohanta 1995:32).


  • Mohanta, Adikanta 1995 Mayurbhanj Chhau: Eko singhabolokon (in Oriya). In Ranga Bhumi, (7th issue) edited by Dr (Smt) Sudha Mishra, Bhubaneswar; Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi. Pp.-29-32.
  • Mohanta, Basanta Kumar 2005 Mayurbhanj Chho (Chhow) Dance : A Technical Analysis. The Tribal Tribune E.Journal, site www.thetribaltribune.com. volume –2. Issue-1.
  • Mohanta, Basanta Kumar 2005 Music and Musical Instrument of Mayurbhanj Chho (Chhow) Dance. The Tribal Tribune E.Journal, site www.thetribaltribune.com. volume –1. Issue-10. 
  • Mohanta, Basanta Kumar 2007 Chhau Dance: Understanding the Power of A Folk Artistic Performance in Mayurbhanj, Orissa. Submitted to Madhya Pradesh Bhoj (Open) University, Bhopal for the partial fulfillment of Post Graduate Diploma in Heritage Management and Museology. 
  • Mohanty, Rabindra k. 1993 Chhow Dance in Orissa-Its Dynamic and Deterioration as an old art form. Orissa Review, Vol.-L(3), October 1993,pp.-10-14.
  • Mohanty, Radha Mohan (year not mentioned) Mayurbhanj Chhow Dance: Origin, Growth, Grammar. Bhubaneswar: Smt. Basanti Das.
  • Mohanty, Radha Mohan 1993 Chhau Dance – A Shaiva Ceremony. In Chhow Dance of Mayurbhanj ,pp.82-91, edited by Mohapatra S.,Cuttack: Vidyapuri.

ISSN: 2249 3433


The word tribe is variously used in literature to denote a community on the basis of homogeneity. Originally many autochthonous communities who were identified by similar culture, social organisation and governance, living away from the main stream life of a country, were mentioned as tribe by their colonial rulers and Western scholars. Many such communities have moved towards the mainstream lifestyle so that they may no longer be identified as secluded, underdeveloped people with queer customs. This has happened to all areas of the world where tribal communities live. Still, many tribal communities lead their lives in very primitive ways devoid of the techno-economic glamour of contemporary civilization. These communities are labeled as "Primitive Tribal Groups". Indian Government has identified such tribal groups to give special attention to their development, whereas in the Indian Constitution all the tribal groups are recognized as "scheduled tribes".


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