Arts & Culture
Chhattisgarh is rich in its cultural heritage. The State has a very unique and vibrant culture. There are over 35 big and small colourful tribes spread over the region. Their rhythmic folk music, dances and dramas are a treat to watch and also provide an insight into the culture of the State. The most famous dance-drama of the State is Pandwani, which is a musical narration of the great Hindu epic Mahabharata. Raut Nacha ( folk dance of cowherds), the Panthi and Soowa are some of the other famous dance styles of the region.
Pandwani is a folk ballad form performed predominantly in Chhattisgarh. It depicts the story of the Pandavas, the leading characters in the epic Mahabharata. It is narrated in a very lively form, almost constructing the scenes in the minds of the audience.Traditionally a male preserve, it has seen the inclusion of women artist in recent times.The artists in the Pandwani narration consist of a lead artist and some supporting singers and musicians. The lead artist narrates one episode after another from the epic in a very forceful manner. He enacts the characters in the scenes to produce a more realistic effect. Occasionally, he also breaks out into a dance movement. During the performance he sings along the rhythm produced by the ektara held in his hand. There are two styles of narration in Pandwani; Vedamati and Kapalik. In the Vedamati style the lead artist narrates in a simple manner by sitting on the floor throughout the performance. The Kaplik style is livelier, where the narrator actually enacts the scenes and characters.
Teejan Bai, kapalik style of Pandawani performer from Ganiyari Village of Durg district, has contributed immensely in popularizing this dance form in India and abroad. She has been showered with honours including the Ahilya Devi Samman and the prestigious Padmashree in 1988, Shreshtha Kala Acharya in 1994 and the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy award in 1996 to name a few. In 2002 Guru Ghasidas University, Bilaspur announced the award of D.Litt honour for Teejan Bai.
Like Teejan Bai, Ritu Verma from Raubandha, Bhilai also adopted the Kapalik style of Pandawani. Ritu Verma had already visited Germany and England for Pandwani performance. Shri Poona Ram Nisad, vedamati style of Pandawani performer from Ringani Village of Durg district had received Padambhoosan for Pandwani performance.
The folk dance of the Satnami community of Chhattisgarh bears religious overtones. Performed on Maghi Purnima - the birth anniversary of Guru Baba Ghasidas, the dance is evolving still to include a variety of steps and patterns. The dancers dance around a jaitkhamb set up for the occasion, to the songs eulogizing their spiritual head. The songs also reflect the Nirvana philosophy, conveying the spirit of renunciation of their Guru and the teachings of saint poets like Kabir, Rasmas, Dadu, etc. Dancers with bent torsos and swinging arms continue to dance till carried away by their devotion. As the rhythm quickens, they indulge in acrobatics and even form human pyramids.The accompanying instruments included Mridang and Jhaanj.
Raut Nacha, the folk dance of cowherds, is a traditional folk dance of yadavs/yaduvanshis as symbol of worship to Krishna at the time of 'dev udhni ekadashi' (awakening of Gods after brief rest) according to the Hindu calendar.