Regular-article-logo Sunday, 11 June 2023

Thousands miss grandeur of Chhau

We requested only the minimum number of people and priests to attend the jatraghat this year: Seraikela royal family member

Antara Bose Jamshedpur Published 12.04.20, 06:42 PM
Devotees perform the Jatraghat in Seraikela on Saturday.

Devotees perform the Jatraghat in Seraikela on Saturday. Telegraph picture

The unprecedented situation arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic has come as a blow to a 300-year-old tradition.

In the past 300 years, residents of Seraikela, an erstwhile princely state, have waited for the royal family’s Chaitra Parva with bated breath. This is not just the biggest festival of their region, but also promotes heritage tourism in the district.


This year, the royal family and other groups performed the Chaitra Parva rituals called “Jatraghat” between April 10 and 12 with a minimum number of people and priests. Chhau dance recitals did not take place.

Chaitra Parva, traditionally dedicated to Lord Shiva and Shakti, is celebrated in this region with Jharkhand's folk dances apart from the famed Seraikela Chhau, where intricate and colourful masks bring out the grandeur of mythological characters.

Every year, thousands attend the performances simultaneously organised by the royal family on the palace courtyard and the Seraikela-Kharsawan district administration at Bhagwan Birsa Stadium during this time.

Traditionally, the Seraikela royal family celebrates the four yugas or epochs in Hindu mythology, Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. Chhau dancers who portray mythological characters are treated as divine incarnations. The belief is so strong that the stage for chhau performances is cleaned, purified and worshipped before the performances.

Pratap Aditya Singhdeo, a member of the Seraikela royal family, said that they kept the proceedings very minimal so as to avoid crowding at a time of lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“We kept it simple this year and requested only the minimum number of people and priests to attend the jatraghat that is performed by the river. We skipped the dance performances. It took an emotional toll on us, as this is a tradition that’s centuries old, but there is no way out.”

Director of Rajkiya Chhau Nritya Kala Kendra, Tapan Patnaik, agreed with Singhdeo. “There was no way out this year. Some people fasted at their respective homes and very few attended the jatraghat. There were no grand and colourful chhau performances at the royal courtyard and the Birsa stadium. I have never seen such a time before and hope I do not have to see it in future,” said the chhau exponent.

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