Baripada, 05th July, 2016 (OdishaLIVE Bureau): The district administration has taken initiative for the revival of past glory of ‘Mayurbhanj Chhau dance’, a world famous martial folk dance of the district.

For the cause, a project named as ‘Chhauni’ prepared with the suggestion of the experts has been launched by the district collector Shri Rajesh Prabhakar Patil. He said a change of approach was required to preserve the dance and hold the artists.

Participating in the meeting, the speakers expressed their opinions primarily on how to popularize and protect the interests, mainly the financial aspect of the artists.

“For the first time a systematic approach has been adopted by the district administration through an action plan to revive ‘Chhau dance’,” said Bibhudatta Das, a culture lover.

The action plan suggests database on socio –economic survey of all artists of the district, preparation of a curriculum, motivation and orientation programmes of artists, certification, and promotion of the dance and social security for the artists.

“If Odissi could attract tourists around the world to this land of Odisha, so can Mayurbhanj Chhau, but there is not a single institute which dedicatedly works towards the survival and popularization of this dance form”, said an expert, Suvashree Mukharjee.

“If the plan could be implemented at least the district administration will have a database with it about artists of the district, their conditions and will have intervention scope,” she said.

“To popularize the Chhau dance and protect the interests of artists there is a need of concerted efforts. In order to make it more popular there is a need to bring change in theme keeping in view the changing times. Instead of mythological themes, the groups can adopt the current social themes,” said Patil, the district collector, Mayurbhanj.

“We are trying to include our Chaau in the state and national culture show calendars and raise corpus fund to protect the financial security of the artists,” he said.

The ‘Chhau dance’, as far as history goes, began in Mayurbhanj in 1894 during the time of the then Maharaja of princely state, Shri Krushna Chandra Bhanja Deo. He had hired two artists from Sareikala and Kharasuan who not only performed the martial folk dance also trained the local residents.

Roughly till about a century from the beginning, the women roles were performed by the male artists in their attires. However, since 1995, the women artists are performing their roles instead of males.

There are about 4,000 artists and nearly 100 gurus in the district association on the ‘Chhau’ dance form.

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