Bardo chham

India is well known for its culture, traditions and mythological stories. The epics of Puranas, Mahabharata and Ramayana are the most devoted stories of the past. However, on Indian land, there is a place which is a hub of these myths and is hence considered to be the Prabhu Mountains of the Puranas. The region is Arunachal Pradesh. It finds its mention in the literature, according to which, it was where sage Parshuram washed away his sin, King Bhishmaka founded his kingdom, sage Vyasa meditated and Lord Krishna married Rukmini. Such is the significance of Arunachal Pradesh. However the influence of these myths is reflected in its dances too. One such renowned Indian folk dance of Arunachal Pradesh is Bardo Chham. A folk dance of a small community of West Kameng District called Sherdukpens, Bardo Chham clearly depicts the victory of good over evil. The dancers perform this dance indicating that the activities of human beings are governed by the Gods who rewards and punishes accordingly. Let us understand some detailed aspects of Bardo Chham.

How did it originate?

The literal meaning of Bardo Chham is the dance of horoscopes and is hence performed by the Sherdukpen tribal community on festive occasions. The local tribals believed that there are both evil and good forces that rule mankind. According to them, there are twelve types of stupid things or evil forces that appear in one year. These evil forces appear every month and get together. In order to get rid of or to fight these evil forces, the Shardukpens mask themselves in the mask of different animals. An ancient folk dance, not much is known about its origin, barring the fact that it was founded by the Sherdukpens who founded their own culture and hence become the famous dance of diversified India. 

What are the musical instruments used?

Music for Bardo Chham is played on a large frame drum with a long handle along with a stick on it. The tribals of Sherdukpens fight against the evil forces of mankind through this dance in accompaniment of drums and crymbals as an act of performance. It is usually performed on many festive occasions. 

Is there a costume peculiar to this dance?

Bardo Chham dance is mainly the performance of an act. The act rejoices the victory of good over evil.  Hence the performers of this dance wear masks along with colourful costumes. These masks representing different animals highlight the story behind the dance.  

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