Chhau dance-drama as a folk art in Eastern India.

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What are the elements and origins of the masked dance-drama of Seraikela Chhau and Purulia Chhau of Eastern Indian and to what extent are they significant to the Indian culture as a folk art?

Abstract:

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India is a country with a rich range of various cultures and traditions. Each part of India has different ways to preserve those cultures traditions such as folk and classical dances. Folk and classical dances play a big role in the Indian culture as a way of communication. One of the dance-drama folk art that is performed in India is the Chhau dance-drama of Eastern India. There are three types of Chhau dance-dramas but this essay will focus on only two types:  the Seraikela of Bihar and the Purulia of West Bengal. Both Chhau styles are masked dance-drama forms that are unique. To understand the significance of this folk art for the Indian community, it is important to first understand the elements and the origins of the Chhau. The Chhau is very significant to the Indian culture because it is both a religious and mythological practise that has been passed on thought many generations. Not only is the Chhau dance-drama used for festive celebrations but is also used as a way to communicate moral message by the portrayal of stories from the Indian mythology. The portrayal of stories is where the theatrical aspect comes in the picture. The Chhau characters are mute so therefore, movements and masks are used instead of dialogues to show certain emotions and feelings to bring the story forwards. The study of the origins, history, costumes, music, staging, music and performers brings to the conclusion that indeed, the Chhau dance-drama is a folk art that is very significant to the Indian culture and the Indian people.

Acknowledgment:

I would like to thank my supervisor Tamojit Ray for his extraordinary help in guiding and advising me through the writing process of my extended essay. As Tamojit Ray is from the Eastern part of India, his advice and knowledge on the Chhau dance-drama were very useful to guide me in my essay.

I would also want to thank Tamojit Ray for putting me in contact with the Chhau dance-drama Master Chandi Mahato, and his role as a translator from the local language of the area resided by Mahato to English during the telephonic interview.

Table of Contents:

1 )Introduction- Folk dances in India                   5-7

2) The history and origins of Chhau                   7-9

3) Masks and Costumes              10-16

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