| (From top) Two youngsters perform with bamboo sticks and girls at the martial art rally in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Pictures by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, Nov. 21: The martial art dancers from all over Orissa gathered in the city for a martial dance contest as well as rally of martial dance forms held during the weekend.
It was great opportunity for the ancient warrior community of the state to portray their vigour and pride.
Thirty-five teams from various districts competed for the coveted title of the best martial art group on Saturday.
Visitors in huge numbers swarmed the Guajhara compound near Kedargouri temple where the event was held. Paika and Chhau dancers of Mayurbhanj, Khurdha, Angul and others showcased awe inspiring stunts and choreography based on traditional military techniques.
Sparks flashed when swords of the dancers from Mayurbhanj presenting a mock fight clanked.
The dancers held a shield in the left hand and sword in the right hand. While some teams presented duels among individuals, others had group mock fights.
The crowd cheered loudly when the dancers rotated the body flying up in the air simultaneously ready for attack and defence.
“These performances are unbelievable. With such rich heritage of martial dances, authorities should encourage the dancers by holding such events regularly,” said a viewer Dhaneswar Behera. “The artists and their teachers should be congratulated for having kept alive such amazing martial dances till today,” said Rina Mallik, a college student.
Apart from swords and shields, the performers also showcased fights using lathis or bamboo poles and bow and arrows. They also displayed heroic stunts like the one in which dancer slices the fruits on another’s chest with arrows or sword.
Some warrior artists even rotated heavy wooden chariot wheels that left the audience in awe. “We practice the dance throughout the year. It feels great to see such an overwhelming response of the viewers here to all the performances,” said Bijay, a Ruk Mar Nacha performer.
The main attraction of the event was the only group of female warrior dancers from Talcher. Mostly students of the Talcher Women’s College— these dancers practice martial dancers by forming the Rani Sukadei Regiment under the guidance of the principal of the college Soubhagini Debi.
The choreography performed on bow and arrow dances was well-synchronised so were the mock fights using swords and shields.
“Practicing the warrior dances makes the girls brave and confident,” said Soubhagini Debi. International Muay Thai (a form of martial art) player Mamita Rout was also a member of the group.
The martial dancers also performed during a rally from PMG Square to Kedargouri on the occasion of the birth anniversary of former Chief Minister Hare Krushna Mahtab on Sunday.
“The event is an effort to revive the traditional martial dance forms by encouraging Paika akharas,” said organiser Suresh Kumar Routray.