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Seraikela Chhau between the covers

Did you know that Seraikela Chhau was a form of martial art before evolving into a classical dance form?

City-based author Yogendra Prasad has shared interesting facts like this and more in his new book on the age-old dance form.

A programme executive at the All India Radio, Jamshedpur, Prasad penned Jharkhand Ki Sanskritik Dharohar — Seraikela Chhau in Hindi to tell readers and lovers of the dance how chhau stepped into the modern world.

The 96-page read was released at a function at Tulsi Bhavan, Bistupur, on Friday in the presence of Seraikela royal family members Pratap Aditya Singhdeo and his wife Arunima Singhdeo.

Chhau exponent Mangala Prasad Mohanty was also present.

“While covering various programmes on Seraikela Chhau, I felt that there is no literature on this ancient art form. So, I penned my thoughts after extensive research and with a lot of support from the royal family. The book shows what chhau was hundreds of years ago and how it evolved into an Indian classical dance form,” said Prasad.

The author went on to add that Chhau was a martial art performed for entertainment during the reign of Asoka in ancient Kalinga. “It was Vijay Pratap Singhdeo, a member of the Seraikela royal family, who modified and invented the latest dance form.”

The book also delves into the myriad movements and the instruments used in the dance form.

According to Prasad, there are about six chhau exponents who have received the Padma Shri, while many more have been honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. Yet, chhau is yet to receive the same kind of recognition as other dance forms. “Chhau has received more recognition outside India than within the country,” he said.

Pratap Aditya Singhdeo was all praises. “It is great to learn that somebody in Jamshedpur has taken interest in researching and knowing about chhau. Seraikela Chhau just got a book in Hindi, which means more people will know about it,” he added.

Artistes from Srikalapith, the chhau learning centre at the Seraikela royal palace, performed a dance at the event.

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