Folk Dance of Kalahandi
The Ghumra dance originates from the south-eastern state of Orissa, of the Indian sub-continent. The Kalahandi district of the southern part of the state specializes in this dance form. The themes of the Ghumra songs are related to religious hymns, the glory of the rulers, mythological literature etc. The poets that have taken the Ghumra dance to an exotic level include Upendra Bhanja, Dinakrushna, Abhimanyu Samanta Singar etc. The Ghumra dance was highly encouraged by the royalties of the areas of Bhawanipatna, Jayapatna, Madanpur, Rampur, Khariar etc. The Ghumra dance is particularly performed to celebrate the festivals of Dussehra and Nuakhai in the state.
The birth of the Ghumra dance dates back to thousands of years. Several mythical stories and legends are attached to the history of the Ghumra dance. The Ghumura Janma Bidhan was written by the poet Kandarpa Panda in the year 1954, describing the Ghumra dance. Ghumra, which is a form of a drum, is said to be a combination of Lord Shiva’s Damru and Goddess Saraswati’s Veena that was created to kill the demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga. During the epic battle of Mahabharata, Ghumura was used as a war musical instrument by the Gods and the Goddesses. It is also said that Ghumura was used to produce the war music for the Lanka King Ravana, from another Hindu mythological epic, Ramayana.
The paintings displaying the Ghumra dance in the caves of the districts of Kalahandi and Nuapada mark its early existence. It is believed that the Ghumra dance was first performed in the river valley of Indravati and spread to the surrounding areas from there. There are several engravings at the Sun Temple of Konark, proving the performance of Ghumra dance in the medieval times. There are many variations or forms to the Ghumra dance such as Ghumura-Ladhei, Badi-Ghumura, Go Spada dance, Mesha Yudha dance, Chaki dance, Go Chanda dance, Kakuta Yudha dance etc. Ghumra dance is completely male oriented and there are no female participants in it.
The Ghumra songs acted as the war music to the Gods, then the kings and finally the soldiers at war. During the pre-independent era, the warriors were enticed by the Ghumura music and dance to enhance the spirit of fighting in them. It also helped them exercise and uplifted their spirits to fight for their rulers.
Costumes and Etymology
The costumes worn by the Ghumra artists resemble those of the tribal folklore; hence, despite its movements being similar to that of some of the Indian classical dances, it remains a folk dance itself. The artists attach Ghumra or a typical drum to their chests and beat it with their hands, along with dancing. Therefore, the performer and the musician are the same in this dance. Ghumra can be deciphered as Ghum+u+ra, which means an earthen pitcher of Lord Shiva, which produces a peculiar sound.
Ghumra dance is a package of social entertainment, relaxation of the mind, love for dance, devotion towards it and the brotherhood that it promotes amongst the various casts that come together to give the performance. During the contemporary times, Ghumra dance has had international acclaim in the city of Moscow. Despite the negligence from the Government in the promotion and preservation of the dance, Ghumra is still being recognized due to the efforts of some of the local enthusiasts. However, this heroic dance form is quite ahead of the similar folk dances of the state of Orissa. But it is relatively practiced more in the rural parts than in the urban arena.