Animal Mask Dance in Odisha

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The spectacular animal mask dances are prevalent in the district of Ganjam, Orissa (Odisha), especially in Bhanjanagar sub-division area. Particularly during Thankurani Yatra, when the idols are taken out on the streets, the animal mask dancers go on dancing before the procession. During the marriage ceremonies also they lead the bridegroom’s procession all the way to the bride’s house.

The three animal mask dances typical of the area are the tiger, bull and horse dances. Two persons get into cane frame and conceal themselves within it. Their legs become the legs of the animals they are representing.

Animal mask dances are tiger, goat, bull horse, lion, elephant, deer, peacock, duck, etc. Ram, Laxman, Raja, Rani (one dancer dancing) . All the masks are bigger in size than the head which are colorful Traditional Painting, decorative and spectacular . While the heads are made papier-mache, cow dung and wood, the frames are made of canes. The frames are covered with coats made of thick cloth and profusely decorated with applique work and mirrors.?
In each of the framed mask two dancers conceal themselves only with their leg visible to give the impression of the quadruple animals . The dancer dances with various movements the rhythm of ?? Changu? played by traditional drummers.

Mostly the mask dancers leads religious procession especially Takurani yatra, Ramnabami yatra, Dola yatra procession and other ceremonies. This dance is widely appreciated. While performing this kind of dance, the time of staging is kept in mind and guidance of director .

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