'About Seraikella Chhau' - A Feature
Chhau is a folk dance of Seraikella-Kharsawam region of the state Jharkhand. The word 'Chhau' signifies a mask. Originally a war dance to perfect fighting techniques named Parikhanda, it has over the years evolved into a narrative ballet. The dancer's identity and sex are concealed on account of the mask he wears when performing the Chhau.
On the eve of the spring festival, every year, people in Seraikella celebrate the colourful show of 'Chhau' performance. The Seraikella royalty used to preserve, project and participates in the dance Chhau, during the month of Chaitra Paru (April) at the venue of the kings palace. The masks are made on a wooden platform with clay and are kept in the sun to dry. Once the mask dries, it is layered with paper followed by a layer of cotton and a fine coating of clay. After layering, the eyes and mouth are carved out and then are once again kept out in the sun to dry.
The Adivasi version of the Chhau is called Sastriya Nritya. In the performance of Sastriya Nritya, the dancers sometimes do not use the mask. The use of songs, a common feature of all folk dance, is wholly absent in Chhau. The dancer expresses the mood or theme through varied gestures. The exquisite artistic gestures are all the more appealing with the accompaniment of music from the veena, flute and the drum. All these folk dances have their roots in the age old traditions of the region.