Shaila nritya is a popular folk dance in Surguja and Jashpur districts of Chhattisgarh. Members of the Rajwade, Yadav, Naik, Manikpuri communities perform this dance. “We dance from the day of the Shet festival which is also known as Chherchhera in the rest of Chhattisgarh and Odisha,” says Krishna Kumar Rajwade, from Lahpatra village in Surguja district.

In Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh, one group of 15 Shaila nritya dancers are here to perform in a state sponsored festival of handicraft. Krishna Kumar is one of them.

This is a dance full of colour with performers dressed in brightly coloured clothes, decorated turbans and with sticks in hand. The musical instruments used in this dance are flute, mandar , mahuri and jhal .

Only men perform and a few add peacock feathers to their dress, giving the impression that peacocks are part of the dancing group.

Chhattisgarh has a large tribal population. Most people here practise agriculture and this is reflected in the dance and music of the region. After harvesting is done, people enjoy dancing in the village, moving from one corner to another.

Watch the video: Chhattisgarh’s Shaila nritya

Purusottam Thakur

Purusottam Thakur is a 2015 PARI Fellow. He is a journalist and documentary filmmaker and is working with the Azim Premji Foundation, writing stories for social change.

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