Traditional Dance in Terai:
The dance tradition of Nepal Terai is many century old. In fact, this tradition has been in existance since the creation of the universe. Lord Krishna is considered the divine dancer where as Lord Shiva is considered the greatest classical dancer. Shiva is called Nateshwar (the Lord of dance). He performs the “Tandav’ dance at the time of Mahaparlaya (catastrophy). These and other dances exhibit topographical features. Every ethnic group has its own dance tradition in Nepal. There are several types of dances in different parts of Nepal Terai. This tradition has been very popular because it has been influenced by culture, religion, customs, manners and professions. The dances of Nepal Terai are lyrical and musical expression of joys and sorrows, grief and grievances, love and pangs of separation of its people.
These dances are related to religion and folk tradition. So they are performed on several religious occasions. They have evolved from the inner rhythm of heart of the people. Terain people are very religious by nature. So they sing devotional songs and dance out of ecstasy on various auspicious and religious festivities. These types of dances are mainly devoted to the goddess Durga and to god Shiva, the divine Lord Krishna the everlasting dancer. The folksongs which are sung during these dances are called ‘Maheshvani’ and ‘Nachari’.
This dance is devoted to the mother goddess of Nepal Terai. It is performed on the auspicious occasion of Dashain, a famous festival of Nepal. This is especially devoted to Durga Bhavani, the goddess of victory over vice. The main objective of this dance is to ward off evil spirits. The moon shines in the milky sky. The rains are over. The paddy plants dance in the fertile field of the Terai. The very whether is also soothing and sweet. This dance is performed during night by young girls. In this dance they dance with burning lamps on top of the water-jars they carry on their heads.
One scholar has written about the dance tradition of Nepal Terai which is correct to some extent “Maithil” women scarcely ever dance. So the men dress up as women, paint their faces theatrically and nimbly pirouette and glide about.
This dance is very dazzling. The dancers are not trained but they learn it from their elders. They have been learning it from generation to generation because there is no dance institution. They dance competently. They never lose their balance. The water-jars never fall from the heads, while dancing. This creates musical atmosphere all around. They also go from door to door singing and dancing in devotion to the goddess Durga for fourteen consecutive nights.
This dance drama is also performed after the rainy season. This is both a dual dance and a group dance. The role of Jat is performed by male and the role of Jatin is performed by female. In this dance, the male dance as Lord Shiva while the female dances as Parvati, the consort of Shiva. Two groups of girls stand on each other’s opposite sides. There is one dance leader in every group. This leader leads the dancing group. They express their griefs, grievances, agonies and anguish in musical tones. They also express love and disgust, despair and pangs of separation in love while dancing.
Sama - Chakwa
This dance is a duet one. It is performed for a full fortnight under the starry night. It starts on the day when Terain ladies observe fast on the occasion of their greatest festival Chhatha. It ends on the full moon night of October. This very day is also observed as full moon festival in Nepal Terai. The ladies sing and dance and pray for their brother’s long life and success in life. This is a symbolic dance in which love between brother and sister is displayed through many symbols. The girls also dance in group and express theirsentiments. They make earthen idols of chugla (clown), Brindavana, Satbhiya (Seven Brothers), Khanjan (A migratory bird) and dog. The clown (Chugala) is condemned. It indicates that people who spy on others are insulted in social life of Terai Belt. They start playing this dance drama from the day of Bhaiya Dooj, a famous folk festival also of the Terai.
This dance is widely practised from Mechi to Mahakali in Nepal Terai. It is a very ancient dance devoted to Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna. It is especially performed on the auspicious occasions of Satya Narayan Puja (worship of Lord Satya Narayan) who is a very popular god in Nepal. It is also performed on the occasion of Ashtayam and Ekah (recitation of the name of Lord Ram for twenty four hour continuously). Ashtayam is celebrated for eight days chanting the names of Ram and Krishna. Even Vidyapati has mentioned in his book ‘Purus Parikasha’ about this dance. It is deeply rooted in the hearts of Terain People.
This is a Devotional dance dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is accompanied by devotional songs. They are also called Mahesh Vani (The words of Mahesh). The Terain People are outwardly and widely devotees of Lord Shiva than to Lord Vishnu because Shiva is considered very benevolent. He is also pleased very easily by limited means of worship and offerings. Nachari dance is purely devotional in nature. Devotees of Shiva perform this dance on the auspicious occasions of Maha Shiva Ratri and Vasant Panchami and in the early hours of the day and also in winter season.
This religious dance is performed to ward off the evil spirits which attack men and women. Bhagata is a man who sings and dance under the influence of some deities. He is supposed to help getting rid of ghosts and spirits. A group of Bhagata performs this dance to worship Kali and Sokha, famous local deities of Nepal Terai. They are clan deities of certain castes and creeds.
It is a popular dance of western Nepal Terai. Dancers earn their livelyhood by entertaining people with dance. They move door to door and sometimes village to village singing and dancing in group of four to five persons carrying musical instruments. They are professionals. This dance is popular in the Tharu community of the Nepal Terai.
This is also called stick dance. This is characterized by hand and hip movements. This is a popular dance of the Tharu community of western Nepal and also of Chitwan. Tharu youths holding wooden sticks in their hands dance to their own stick beats. Musical instrument Madal is accompanied with the beatings of sticks. These days this dance is especially performed to entertain the tourists visiting Royal Chitwan National Parks and Bardiya Wild Life Camp in western Nepal. This dance of Nepal Terai has been internationalized and gaining popularity day by day.
This is a very popular dance of women folk of western Nepal. It is performed during Durga Pooja festival. In this dance young girls dance rhythmically holding handkerchiefs in their hands. They dance to the beat of the musical instrument Madal.
This is a very popular folk dance of Nepal Terai. In this dance women form a circle sing songs to spend their time. This is very popular dance among women. This is also performed as a folk game by women, accompanied by folksongs and dances.
This dance is the dance of youth, romance, colour and of the spirit of spring. It is performed in the beautiful spring season. This season is considered as the season of Kamdev-god of passion. So it tends to express the erotic and amorous sentiments of the young boys and young girls. One group dancer leads the group and often repeats his utterance on his drum, ‘Hori Hai Hori Hai’ and dances. Others follow him. In this way they move from one door to another in group. Every house owner receives this group with respect and serves what he can serve. Abir (Red powder) and red colour are freely applied in the face and body. The whole group becomes red. Musical instruments are used in this dance. They are percussion instruments like Dhol, Damph and cymbals. This dance is a great source of popular entertainment in Nepal Terai. The spring festival of Fagua in Nepal Terai is the most buoyant of all Hindu festivals.
Dances are also performed in the main temples of Nepal Terai on different auspicious occasions. Temple festival is one of them. The Jhula dance which is performed at Janaki Temple of Janakpur is very famous. This dance is performed for a fortnight during the rainy season.
The Terai people work hard in their fields in day time and at night they relax and entertain themselves by dancing and singing before the idol of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha. This is performed in a temple before the idol of god and goddess in the whole Terai Belt. Dance drama like Krishna Lila is also inacted on this occasion to highlight the characteristics of Lord Krishna and Radha. This dance is the source of recreation as well as inspiration. There is also a divine touch in it. This dance is performed during moonlit night of Srawan (July-August) when the rainy season is at its peak. Sometimes even when it rains heavily outside, the dance goes uninterrupted the whole night inside the temple. People assemble at almost every temple of the Nepal Terai. This creates an atmosphere of both religion and recreation. Distribution of prasad is also customary in some of the temples which have adequate resources of income. This dance is accompanied by several musical folk instruments.
The Terai people also entertain themselves by dance performed by professional
prostitute dancers which are called Baijee Ke Nach during marriage ceremony.
It is also performed on the auspicious occasion of sacred thread ceremony (Vrata
Bandh) occasionally. This dance is very popular and people from far and near
come to see this dance.