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Meenakshi Medhi – Sattriya Dance

meenmedhiThe Sattriya dance is definitively traced back to the Neo-Vaishnava movement in Assam with Srimanta Sankardev(1449-1568), the saint and preacher, poet and play wright, philosopher and reformer, artist and composer as its fountain head. The music and dance, poetry and drama, sculpture and architecture,painting and even many traditional village craft together sea a new age of revival during this period of the great movement.With great artistic and futuristic vision, Sankardeva treated the pursuit of art-both performing and plastic supplement the pursuit of bhakti. The term “Sattriya Nritya” is appended to the form of dance traditionally preserved and pursued in the Sattra institution ritually as parts of various prayer sessions even today. Thus the Sattriya dance unlike some of the Classical Indian Dance traditions is very much an enduring tradition.

The Sattriya dance may be classified and grouped as follows:

1. Dance included in Ankia Nats( plays of Sankardeva, Madhavdeva and other preachers). Dhemali: The dance movements performed prior to the Ankia Bhaona. Suttradhari Nach: The dance of the Suttradhar(the mediator or linkman of Ankia Nat) Gosai praveshor Nach: The dance of Lord Krishna or Ram performed while entering the stage. Gopi Praveshor Nach: The dance of the cowherds performed while entering the stage. Rasar Nach: The dance of Krishna and Gopis Rasalila. Kharmanar Nach: The dance variety performed by Krishna or Ram with his companies towards the end of a play. Gosain Bhangi Nach: Krishna and Ram perform this form of dance before starting any activity.

2. Dances which are indepently performed: Chali Nach: Alasya based dance form; composed byMadhavdeva. Vara praveshar Nach: Aform of dance Krishna and cowherd enact while they return from Vrindavan to Gokula in the evening. Baha or Bihar Nach: A dance performed by Krishna and cowherds while they play in Vrindavan. Jhumura Nach: A dance forn derived from Madhavdeva’s play.
Nadubhangi Nach: A dance of Krishna performed during the tunning of Kali Nag.

3. Ojapali: A party a chorus singers where Oja (Leader) sings and disoplays hastas, dramatize certain episodes from the scripture while
the Pali’s (followers) support him and maintain the rhythm and stepping.

On 15th November 2000,Sattriya dance was accorded with the status of a Classical form by the Sangeet Natak Akademi of India.

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