Chhau dance: Exploring the Energetic Rhythms

Chhau dance

Chhau is a traditional Indian dance form that originated in the eastern state of Jharkhand, but is also practiced in parts of West Bengal and Odisha. The word “chhau” is derived from the Sanskrit word “chhaya,” which means shadow or shade. This dance form is known for its energetic and acrobatic movements, colorful costumes, and use of masks.

History and Origins

The origins of Chhau dance can be traced back to the 18th century, during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It is believed to have originated as a martial art form practiced by the soldiers of the region, who performed it to boost their physical strength and agility. Over time, it evolved into a dance form and was performed during various festive occasions, especially during the spring festival of Chaitra Parva.

The Dance Form

Chhau dance is performed in three different styles: Seraikella Chhau, Purulia Chhau, and Mayurbhanj Chhau. Each style has its unique features, but all three styles involve vigorous footwork, leaps, and spins, with a lot of emphasis on the use of masks and colorful costumes.

Chhau TypeOrigin
Seraikella ChhauJharkhand
Purulia ChhauWest Bengal
Mayurbhanj ChhauOdisha

Seraikella Chhau

Purulia Chhau

Mayurbhanj Chhau

Chhau dance


Chhau dance is not just a form of entertainment, but it also has cultural and spiritual significance. The dance form is performed during various festivals and occasions, including weddings, religious ceremonies, and harvest festivals. It is believed that the dance form has the power to ward off evil spirits and bring prosperity and good luck.

In recent years, Chhau dance has gained popularity not just in India but also on the international stage. Several dance troupes from Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha have performed at various festivals and events around the world, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Chhau dance is a unique and vibrant dance form that represents the rich cultural heritage of the eastern region of India. With its intricate footwork, acrobatic movements, and colorful costumes, Chhau dance continues to captivate audiences around the world and is a testament to the rich artistic traditions of India.

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