After the birth of lord Ram, Jharkhand celebrates a unique festival — the three-day Chaitraparv Chhau Mahotsav — scheduled to start from April 10 this year.
Hosted jointly by the state art and culture department and Rajkiye Chhau Nritya Kalakendra, Seraikela, the folk dance festival will see performances by over 1,300 chhau artistes from Jharkhand, Odisha and Bengal. Sixty of these 1,300 artistes hail from Seraikela.
Apart from taking their cue from epic sequences, chhau artistes will also showcase secular themes such as save the environment, conflict between humans and nature, Jharkhand’s yug purush Bhagwan Birsa Munda and hamara desh mahaan.
A ballet troupe from Russia led by Margaret Alioon, will also perform with 11 chhau artistes on a composition titled “Never Repeat Again” inspired by Mahabharata.
“Through this, we will show Draupadi’s plight and highlight the need for women’s empowerment,” said Tapan Kumar Patnaik, director of Rajkiye Chhau Nritya Kalakendra.
The show is expected to draw spectators from Jharkhand, neighbouring Bengal and even Chennai.
Interestingly, Seraikela Chhau is considered the mother of all chhau forms. It once flourished under royal patronage. The dance of the masked artistes, the oldest form from Seraikela, has created ripples worldwide, courtesy its contemporary style.
In 1937, for the first time a 10-member chhau team performed in Bulgaria, Hungry and Belgium, giving international exposure to this folk dance.
The global fascination continues into the 21st century. During recent chhau festivals held in the US, France, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, artistes, attired in traditional costumes and masks, won the hearts of millions.
On the Seraikela festival, the director said: “The state art and culture department and Rajkiye Chhau Nritya Kalakendra will jointly chip in with funds for the festival. The cost is estimated at Rs 7.5 lakh. Our rituals have started from April 1, with tributes to Lord Shiva, and will continue till April 9. From April 10 onwards, our artistes will bring forth the beautiful compositions for three days in a row.”
Patnaik went on to add that they were, since the past nine years, inspired with a vision to protect their rich cultural heritage.
“Every year, we renew and keep alive this amazing performative legacy of our forefathers,” Patnaik added.