Ojapali folk dance: A glimpse of culture
Ojapali folk dance in Assam represents the Assamese culture and heritage. This typical dance form is the most distinctive dance style found in the north east of India. Assamese culture is incomplete without the elements of the ethnic tradition of diverse tribes, casts, their religion, and language. A complete ojapali dance form combines singing and dancing assisted by dramatic dialogues and actions. The word ‘ojapali’ is an aggregation of two different words that are ‘oja’ which means leaders and ‘pali’ which signify assistants. In an ‘ojapali’ dance group the one who is proficient in singing, dancing, recitation and is fluent in delivering of dialogue is called the Oja. Oja is considered as the main artist of the group and he must be attractive.
Style of Ojapali
Ojapali is a dance form that high lights the stories from epics and Puranas. The song sung by the singers is of Sanskrit language which is of two types: mananci or malaci geet and jagar. The story contains three parts- Deva Khanda, Baniya Khanda and Bhatiyali Khanda. The dance style focuses on many Indian dance forms such as ‘Hasta’ ‘Gati ‘ ’Bhramari’ ‘Utplavana’ ‘Asana’ and so on. in the ojapali dance form, the Oja wears ‘Ghuri’ ‘Bangles’ ‘Nupur’ ‘Unti’ ‘ring’ and ‘Tangali’.
Types of Ojapali dance
Biygoa Ojapali and Sukannani Ojapali are the major types of Ojapali dance. Both the dance forms carry different dance style. Biygoa Ojapali mainly deals with the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. In this dance form, the singers sing the whole story and the only instruments is played is Khutitaal.
Where as in Sukannani Ojapali describe the painful story of Behula and Lakhindar. Who perform Sukannani Ojapali are called ‘Maroi-gowa’. In Sukannani Ojapali hand gestures or Mudras play a significant role. The singers praise the God and Goddess by singing hymns before performing the main story.