ThePerforming Arts of Orissa have different aspects. While some dances are ritualistic in essence, others are pastoral; still others are religious and war dances. Some of these dances are performed by professional artists and are classical forms which can be mastered with thorough practices. Some again are simple in rhythm and can be formed by all villagers without too much of technical skill. The Karma Dance Of Orissa is a highly specialized dance form that is pastoral in essence.
Background and Performance of Karma Dance
Karma in the literal sense of the term means fate. It is performed in reverence to the Karma Devi or the fate goddess of Orissa. The dancers generally start performing in the Bhadra Shukla Ekadasi which is considered to be an auspicious day in the Hindu almanac. Tribals of Orissa mainly consisting of the Kisan, Kharia , Kol and Bhinjal clan participate in this dance. The dance has a lot of ritualistic significance. Branches of the Karam tree are used while performing the dance. They are planted at the altar or venue where the dancers will perform. It is a symbolic representation of God for them.
The tribals have their own way of appeasing Gods. They offer germinated grains and country liquor to the Karma Devi (goddess) before starting their performances. The dance form is accompanied by the beats of the madal which has a strange intoxicating effect on the minds of the audiences and the performers.
Karma Dance brings tells of vigor, energy, and color. Colorful costumes, peacock feathers, conch shells and assortments of different jewelry are a common sight amongst the performers. Sometimes only groups of women take part in the performance while at others it is only the men who can be seen performing. At others you will see dancers of both the sex. The main subject of the performers is nature, invocation to the Karma devi, pastoral beauty, love and humor. Sometimes young men could be seen with mirrors in their hands which is a symbolic representation of love making.