The history and the progression of Odissi dance-form in Indian arenas

A flashback to the roots of Odissi

In India different art forms mainly dance, painting, songs are very famous in various styles. Most of the forms are based on mythology and folktales. Since ancient times, people started carving stories on the walls of the caves using figures. Inspired by that, Odissi was created. Odissi is known as one of the oldest dance forms of India.

Historical background of the dance-form

Odissi came from the state called Odisha, eastern India. Odissi is based on ‘Natya Sastra’ and ‘Abhinaya Darpan’. This form of dance represents love, passion and divinity in one shell. Udaygiri and Khandagiri gave historical evidences of this classical dance form, situated near Bhubaneswar. From 2nd century B.C. probably this form appeared, inspired from Jagannath, Shiva and other Gods and their stories, worshiped at that time. In the territory of the famous sun temple of Konarak, statues with different postures and ‘Natya Mandap'(dance hall) were found.

The ‘Maharis’ were first to be the vessel of Odissi. Women who held this title ‘Mahari’ were dancers in temples. They used to offer their dance to the God to make them happy. Later some boys were taught to perform, they were called ‘Gotipuas’. An art form which was only created to please a God, eventually became a source of entertainment for everybody.

Its uniqueness

Odissi is a very unique form, it evolved with time and became richer with different styles created by some great people. In the 12th century ‘Gita Govinda’ was Written by Jayadeva. This book contains poems, telling the stories of ‘Radha and Krishna’ in a totally different manner. This masterpiece changed the version of Odissi again. The concept of ‘Nayak and Nykaa was introduced, after that male and female participants started dancing together in one frame.

This form is filled with gracious body language especially clear and beautiful hand movement, leg movement with an emotion. Various emotions were also enlisted as a new name called ‘Rasa’ and had nine parts in it.

Speciality of Odissi

‘Mangalacharan’ is the traditional opening of this dance while performed on the stage. Special hand movements are used to offer salutation to mother nature and earth and to the deity especially chosen by the dancer. The dancers are required to be fit in order to gracefully reflect the emotions with a lot of tough hand and leg movements. Orchestra is included in this dance as a background support with some special instruments like Pakhawaj, flute, sitar and Manjira. With sari and silver jewellery from Odisha makes their looks more attractive.

Odissi is ancient and everybody should try this once at least to taste the beauty and divinity created once.

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