Dunno who might first have taken the first foot forward with a swaying back and a thumping belly, but the expression of joy and happiness with the whole of the body in motion have travelled down the genesis of the human being in many forms and variants.
The Chhattisgarhi culture is immersed with varieties of dance form, varying with each tribe and sub dialect. There are many major and minor dance forms in existence in Chhattisgarh, of which we shall try to cover a few.
One of the lesser known dance form of Chhattisgarhi which should not actually be categorized as a dance form as there is no proper pattern of dance in Jhirliti. Not much have been documented about Jhirliti in any of the major works or media. You won`t find any stuff except for a couple of anthropological survey.
It’s a Halloween sort of ritual, played by the kids in the Bastar region. As the sun sets in, in the dusky twilight, the kids all dressed up in rags and fancy worn out costumes, face laced with chalks, powdered coal and smearing colors of perhaps leftover Rangoli powders, with bowls and short bamboos and fancy wooden stuffs in their hands, dance in circles in front of all the houses in the village. They are given sweets, or ration articles like rice and lentils or some coins after their short jovial and funny dance. The kids’ hangout and have picnic with the stuff gathered in Jhirliti.
The most popular of all the dance form in existence in the state, without a shadow of doubt is Nacha or Raut Nacha. This dance is attributed to the phase of the awaking of the deities. The customary dance might have descended from the occult, having similar traditions all around the world. The Raut Nacha is performed by the Raut people or the Yaduvanshi clans who consider themselves to be the descendants of their Kul-Dev (clan-deity) Krishna.
The other version of Nacha is actually a form of theatre, with more than 4 variants including the Khare Saaj Nacha; Gandawa Nacha; Dewar Nacha and Baithe Saaj Nacha. The Nacha is performed except in Bastar and Sarguja region.
Gendi is fun. Mounting on two long bamboo or just any firm sticks, you will have to maneuver through the crowd of other Gendi (sticks) ridden dancers and thumping on the ground, performing excellent balance as they sway to the tribal acoustics and percussions.
Panthi is a dance form which echoes the heartaches of Nirvana, a plea of human souls from unknown millennia.Panthi is the exclusive folk dance of the Satnami samaj who follow the teachings of their Guru Ghasidas. Guru Ghasidas propagated a deviant form of sanatan dharma and led a radical life and revolted against the prevalent superstitions and the malpractices of the self-professed religious gurus. Despite years of persecution and the assassination of his son, his teachings and way of life prevailed among the followers and family. The Panthi dance in this context is a prayer for salvation, lost in the syntax of time and evolution of the organized religion.