Panthi dance

The state of Chhatisgarh is home to many tribal communities different from each other. One such community is the Satnami. One of the unique features of this community is its dance form the Panthi Dance, which highlights the culture and heritage of the people in the Satnami region as well as Chattisgarh. The Panthi Dance is performed in a unique way representing the whole arena of people of the local region in the state. People perform the Panthi dance with great enthusiasm and zeal during the festive time worshipping guru Ghasidas. One of the important dance forms of Chattisgarh state, it is very expressive in its description and is performed to the accompaniment of melodious songs. It dance bears religious overtones and epitomizes unique styles of the State. Also, the district of Durg, an ancient community of the state, is endowed with enriched cultural traditions and boasts of a plethora of indigenous performing arts of the region in its beautiful dance forms, melodious songs and expressive dance dramas. The Panthi dance is one such dance that percolated from ancient times to the modern era.

Why is the Panthi dance performed?

There is a religious significance behind the performance of the Panthi dance. The dance is performed on Maghi Purnima–birth anniversary of Guru Baba Ghasidas. There is a jaitkhamb set up for the occasion and the dancers dance around it. The zeal in the dancers can be seen through the songs that eulogize their spiritual head. Reflecting the Nirvana philosophy, the songs convey the spirit of renunciation of their Guru and the teachings of the saint poets such as Kabir, Ramdas, Dadu, etc. 

How is it performed?

The dance is performed mainly by the male dancers as it requires great flexibility and stamina and various challenging steps. The dance begins by the leader of the group singing a song with slow body movements while the rest follow him. The dancers gradually bend their torso and swing their arms and continue to do so till they get carried away by their devotion. They indulge in acrobatics and even form human pyramids as the rhythm quickens. The different formation is made by groups of men to the various rhythmic tunes played on the mandar drum and the jhanjh. It is usually the people or member of the Panthi Nritya Mandir who participate in this dance. 

Which musical instruments are needed to perform Panthi?

Many musical instruments are used for the performance of the Panthi dance. The music of Chhatisgarh makes use of various types of drums and different techniques of drumming. The rhythm of traditional folk instruments to which the dancers mainly dance comprise of Mridanga and Jhanjh. Also, the performers occasionally dance to the loud beats of the drums. 

Is there a costume peculiar to this dance?

In order to represent their happiness and enthusiasm through their performance to the viewers, the dancers wear colourful clothes and jewellery. They dress themselves in colourful traditional attires and wear minimal ornaments in accompaniment to their attire. These costumes of the performers reflect a vibrant and dynamic cultural life of the local inhabitants of the Chhatisgarh state. 

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