Baagh naach

Through the arteries of Orissa, all we could see is the living and continuing Indian culture–the temples, caves, mystical monasteries and the folklore. When speaking of Orissa’s elegance, the rhythmic and exotic classical dance is what assumes significance. Traditions, rituals and festivals play a very important role in the cultural lifestyle of Orissa. However, deriving inspiration from the sculptures and the temples, Baagh Naach, a unique dance style of Orissa, has mesmerized many dance connoisseurs since ancient times. A popular folk dance of Orissa, Baagh Dance is also known as the Tiger Dance. The dance is known for its vigorous movements and steps carried out by professional dancers only and are widely enjoyed by many people of Orissa. It is mostly performed during festivals or events or on some special occasions.

How did the Baagh Naach flourish?

As the dance requires lot of vigorous movements, an expert dancer performs it on various events or occasions. It requires a lot of practice to learn this dance form. The steps and movements of the dance are fast and vigorous and hence it asks for enthusiasm and energy level on the part of the dancer. Various institutes have been started to teach this dance. However, in order to learn Baagh Naach, one needs a lot of skill and energy. In some parts of the region, it is even known as Sambalpuri folk dance. 

In which regions of Orissa is it perfomed?

Usually performed in the month of Chaitra (March–April), the Baagh Dance is performed in the Binka and Sonepur regions of Subarnapur district in Orissa. However, these spectacular animal mask dances are also seen in the Ganjam district of Orissa, particularly in Bhanjanagar sub-division area. These dances are enjoyed during the Thankurani Yatra when the idols are taken out on the streets and these animal mask dancers dances before the procession as a sign of devotion. 

How is it performed?

The Baagh Naach dancers dress themselves with the most attractive makeup. It is basically performed by males. In order to get the resemblance of a tiger look, they paint their bare body with black and yellow stripes. In addition to this, they attach a tail behind to further enhance its look. The dancers collect people by moving from one house to another. The music is provided by the drummer and a bell player. There are acrobatic movements and the dancers make hissing sounds to attract mass audiences. 

Are there similar dance forms in the world?

The Tiger Dance, as it is rightly called, is popular throughout the world, especially in Asia. Dances in India, Nepal and Japan have similar characteristics of the Tiger Dance. Some of them include Pilivesa or Hulivesha of Mangalore and Udipi district, Newa People of Nepal, Onam of Kerela, Tiger Dance of Kamaishi, Iwate and Tiger Dance of Yokosuka, Kanagawa. 

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