SATTRIYA- ASSAM

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SATTRIYA DANCE, ASSAM, INDIA

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Originating from the northeast of India is a traditional dance form (dedicated to Lord Krishna) known as Sattriya/Sattriya Nritiya. This “Vaishnavite” dance form is linked to the state of Assam, and was first developed by a 15th century saint known as Srimanta Sankardev. In addition, to Sattriya being a dance form, it also comprises of mixture of elements from drama and ballad. Furthermore, this dance form is usually performed in dance community halls (locally known as namghar) and monastery temples (known as sattaras). It was also officially given the status of “classical dance” by the prestigious “Sangeet Natak Akademi” in the year 2000.

a. History and origin of Sattriya

Sattriya is yet another classical Indian dance form whose roots can be traced back to the scared ancient Sanskrit text, “Natya Shastra. However, it was only in the 15th century that this dance form emerged, when Saint Sankaradeva managed to develop it. Once developed this dance form started acquiring popularity in Assam during the “Vaishnava Bhakti movement” via regular performances held at temple monasteries. Furthermore, this dance form was then perfected by monks, who very cleverly packaged it in the form of “dance-dramas” with the intention of narrating tales linked to the legend of Lord Krishna found mainly in the sacred Hindu text “Bhagavata Purana”.

b. Costumes used in Sattriya

Since this dance form can be performed by both males as well as by females, the costume used varies accordingly. They are as follows

1. For males:

The attire generally comprises of a dhoti, chadar, and a paguri i.e. turban.

2. For females:

The costume includes a ghuri, chadar, and kanchi (waist cloth).

c. Music used in Sattriya:

The essence of the music accompanying this dance form lies in the musical composition called “Borgreets”, composed by Sankaradeva and Shree Shree Mahadeva. In addition, an instrument known as Khols (i.e. two faced asymmetrical drum) is mainly used to produce music for this dance form. Furthermore, the other instruments used include a variety of Cymbals (i.e. Manjira, Bhortal, Pattital), flute, violin, and harmonium.

d. Training availability and dance technique involved in Sattriya

The dance technique (like many other Indian classical dance forms) comprises of two components hand gestures i.e. Mudras and footwork i.e. Padas. In addition, the basic unit of this dance form is known as “Mati Akhara”. These “Akharas” are then further dividend into Ora, Saata, Jhalak, Pak, Jap, Lon, and Khar. Furthermore, this dance form is also said to have two distinct styles i.e. a masculine type which is full of energy, and the other is the feminine type which is extremely fragile. As for training facilities there are not many centres available since this dance form has only in recent times become popular in states outside of Assam as well as outside the country.

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