Bihar is known for its rich cultural heritage, including a variety of traditional folk dances. Folk dances of Bihar are one of the most important aspects of the culture and heritage of Bihar. Some popular folk dances of Bihar include:-
1. Jat-Jatin Dance
Jat-Jatin is a popular folk dance of Bihar, performed by the women of the Mithilanchal region. The dance is performed on moonlit nights where the dance shows the love story and the separation of lovers ‘Jat’ and ‘Jatin’. Jat-Jatin is most popular in North Bihar, especially in the Mithila and Kosi region. The dance also enacts and reflects on several social issues like droughts, floods, love, sorrow and poverty. The dance depicts a married couple’s sensitive love and dispute. The story shows the love between couples and how Jat and Jatin were very much in love but had to live separately due to bad conditions. It is mostly performed in moonlight in the monsoon season. The women and pairs dance from midnight to dawn and are usually performed by two people.
2. Bidesia Dance
This is another very popular folk dance of Bihar. The theme of this dance is social issues, contradictory topics like rich and poor, upper class and lower class and conflict between the traditional and modern lifestyle. This dance form originated in the 20th century as a folk theatre form. The dance form is prevalent in the Bhojpuri- speaking areas of Bihar. This dance form started as a folk theatre play by Bhikari Thakur, a barber by profession. Bhikari Thakur was a well-known playwright and artist of his time and was also referred to as the ‘Shakespeare of Bhojpuri’. He used dance to showcase his views and did it in a sarcastic and entertaining manner which soon became very popular among locals. The Biraha songs used in this dance tell us about the struggle of women who were left behind by their husbands. It gives a clear picture of how women were treated. The female roles in this dance are enacted by male artists with the help of costumes and artificial long hairs.
3. Jhijhiya Dance
This folk dance form is a type of prayer dance that stemmed in the Koshi region of Bihar. This is a ritualistic dance performed when there is total drought and the land becomes dry and cracked. This dance form is often performed by women only. It also includes a lead singer, harmonium player, a flutist and a person who plays dholak. Through this dance, people pray and appease Lord Indra, the Lord of rain hoping for a good and life- giving rain as it is crucial and important for agriculture. Along with the dance, the people sing songs that show their conviction and devotion to Lord Indra for a healthy harvest and crops.
4. Karma Dance
This folk dance is performed by the tribal communities of Bihar and several other states. The dance is performed for more religious and social rituals than entertainment purposes. The dance is a form of worship to the Karma tree which symbolizes the Karama Devta, the God of Fate. It is performed by both men and women as they form a two-tiered formation. They dance in a circle, with the dancers holding each other’s hands and moving in a clockwise direction, taking quick, energetic and brisk steps, accompanied by intricate hand movements. The dance is performed to the beat of the traditional dhol and singing. At the end of the dance, the dhol starts to beat fast and loud and everyone dances on a happy note and expresses their happiness and joy.
5. Kajari Dance
This dance form is performed to welcome the monsoon season during the month of ‘Shravan’. It lasts the entire season starting from the beginning of the monsoon season till the end of the season. The dance is accompanied with Kajari songs. The dance expresses feelings of happiness, excitement, tranquility and mental refreshment one feels during the change in weather and the commencement of the rainy season. The song also describes the feelings and emotions of the people and the beauty of our planet because of rain. The dance is performed by the maidens and young girls as they dance and express their emotions and joy at the commencement of this season.
6. Chhau Dance
Another famous and renowned traditional folk dance of Bihar is Chhau, meaning ‘mask’. The word Chhau is inspired from the Sanskrit word ‘Chhaya’ which means shade. The dance is a combination of martial arts, acrobatics and storytelling and is performed by men. Chhau is typically performed during auspicious occasions and festivals and is accompanied by a dhol. The dancers wear colorful costumes and masks. There are three types of Chhau which are performed in the respective regions with different styles, masks and costumes – Seraikella Chhau, Mayurbhanj Chhau and Purulia Chhau. The Seraikella Chhau is known for its elegant and graceful movements, the Mayurbhanj Chhau is known for its energetic and powerful movements while the Purulia Chhau is known for its elaborate masks and costumes and its way of storytelling. The Chhau dancers hold swords and shields when they perform. Chhau is being recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as an effort to preserve and promote this traditional dance form.
7. Paika Dance
This type of traditional folk dance is performed by the Paika community, a warrior class of Orissa. The dance is also performed by the ‘Munda’ and the ‘Oraon’ tribes. Paika is a type of martial or war dance which includes acrobatic and martial arts movements and is usually accompanied by a dhol and a pepa, which is a type of trumpet. This dance form showcases agility, courage, and excitement. The dancers have weapons with them while dancing; they hold wooden shields and swords in their hands while they engage in fierce combat as part of their performance. This dance is used to demonstrate the physical strength of the performers and is performed during festivals and ceremonies. The performers also wear tight dhotis and colorful turbans.