Sattriya Dance - Sattra, Assam

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 6, 2022, 5:59

Mahapurusha Sankaradeva, a prominent Vaishnava saint and reformer of Assam, created the Sattriya Dance form as a strong vehicle for disseminating the Vaishnava faith in the 15th century A.D. Later on, this Indian dance form developed and blossomed into a distinct type of dance.

Origin of Sattriya Dance

The Sattriya Dance began in Sattra, Assam, in a monastery, and it was pretty integral to the neo-Vaishnavite movement, which Srimanta Sankardev started in the 15th century. He believed in chanting God's name with faith, which led to the inception of the dance form.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi gave Sattriya the status of classical dance in 2000. For generations, the Sattras, or Vaishnava mathematics or monasteries, have nurtured and preserved this dance and theatre. Sattriya adopted this dancing style due to its religious nature and affiliation with the Sattras.

Sankaradeva created the Sattriya Dance form by combining components from many treatises, local traditional dance, and his unique perspective. Before the neo-Vaishnava movement, Assam had two dance forms: Ojapali and Devadasi, both of which had numerous classical influences.

The dancers in the Ojapali chorus sing, dance, and use gestures and stylised movements to illustrate the story. In terms of Devadasi dance, the similarity of many rhythmic syllables, dancing postures, and footwork to Sattriya Dance is clear evidence of the former's impact on the latter.

Assamese ethnic dances, such as Bihu and Bodos, are also apparent influences on Sattriya Dance. Many hand movements and rhythmic words are startlingly similar in these dancing forms.

Severe rules apply in hasta mudras, footwork, aharyas, music, and other aspects of the Sattriya Dance heritage.

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Features of the Sattriya Dance

The basic stance of Sattriya Dances is quite different from all the other classical dances in India. Purush Pak is a posture taken up by males during the dance, while the females take up the Prakriti Pak posture. The dance celebrates different mythological creatures.

They perform elaborate dances and steps, and different singers write the portions of the songs and 'Borgeet' is played during these dances, which is traditional music from Assam. These dances involve huge instruments and bright costumes.

Ankiya bhaona and Ojapali dances are Sattriya Dances were the primary singer acts while singing, and this is called 'abhinaya', which is an art of telling stories.

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Streams of the Sattriya Dance

  • The first is the Bhaona-related repertory, which runs from Gayan-Bhayanar Nach to Kharmanar Nach.
  • Second, individual dance numbers such as Chali, Rajagharia Chali, Jhumura, Nadu Bhangi, and so on.

Sattriya Dance - Themes and Styles Used

Several themes are used in a Sattriya Dance. However, the theme of Radha Krishna is the one that is the most prevalent. Sankardev, a famous author of those times, used to write the script for these dances, and these were performed in both Masculine and Feminine styles.

The Sattriya Dance is one of India's most famous classical dance forms. It is usually practised in the northeast states. It would help if you memorised everything about them as it is a crucial dance form from an exam's perspective.

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FAQs on Sattriya Dance

Q1. What did males wear during the Sattriya Dance?

The males used to wear dhoti, chadar and pagri during the Sattriya Dance performance.

Q2. What do females wear during the Sattriya Dance?

Females usually wear ghuri, chadar and Kanchi during the Sattriya Dance performances.

Q3. Where was the Sattriya Dance performed initially?

The Sattriya Dance was performed in the monasteries of Assam initially.

Q4. Which body recognised Sattriya Dance as a classical dance in 2000?

Sattriya Dance was declared a classical dance by the Sangeet Natak Akademi.