Choliya Dance - Folk Dances of Kumaon
Dating back to over a thousand years, the Chholiya Dance has its origins in the warring Khasiya Kingdom of Khasdesh, when marriages were performed at the point of the swords. They were united by the Chand kings who arrived' on the scene in the 10th century. In Nepal, the word Khasa is still asynonym for Kashatrya, and in Khasdesh, too, they took on the customs of the Rajputs, who were themselves honorary Kashatryas.
Keeping the old tradition alive, the Rajputs dance this at their weddings as a part of the marriage procession itself, led by the male dancers who go on dancing till they reach the bride's house. Performed by the Rajputs with sword and shield in pairs, the drummers are usually Harijans called Dholies, while the Turi and Ransing are played by Bairagis, Jogis or Gosains. The Turi and Ransing are typical Kumaon instruments. Perfectly synchronized, and marked with jumps and turns of the body, the dancers show several sword-fighting feats. Attired in the material costumes of ancient warriors, the flashing swords and shields, along with the war-like music, huge red flag with various animal symbols stuck on it conveys fear, joy, awe and wonder, through eyes, eyebrows and shoulders, creating at the same time, the impression of group advancing for an attack.
The costumes consist of a Churidar Pyjama, one long Chola, one cross belt, one belt round the waist, pattis on the legs and a turban. With' Chandan, or Sandalwood paste, and red vermillion they decorate their face, while on the ears are ear-rings, a bronze shield and real sword complete the ensemble. Specially trained, though dancing is not their profession, these Rajput dancers come from the Champawat and Almora. The full team consists of 22 person, eight of which are dancers, and 14 musicians. Cultivators all, they assemble when invited.
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