Diwari Pai Danda, a Folk Dance of Bundelkhand

The festival of lighting Diwali is approaching, and excitement and zeal are apparent in Indian society. Diwali celebration especially in Bundelkhand is very popular due to its uniqueness. As we are resilient, India is known everywhere because of its distinct feature - Unity is diversity. People living in all corners of the country celebrate Diwali festivals in their own ways portraying the tradition, culture, and myth behind their religious practices. Exquisite examination of the rituals and conventions it can be said that behind each tradition, custom, ritual, myth, etc. some logic is realized embedded. As for as the Diwali festival is concerned, it is celebrated in the whole of the nation by lighting lights, gathering in families, and worshiping the God and Goddess. By and large, Goddess Lakshmi is adored during the celebration. Diwali follows the lunar schedule and it spreads over the five days and contains five rule ceremonies: love of abundance, the festival of Vishnu's triumph over the demon Narakasura, love of Lakshmi, the triumph of Vishnu over Bali, dice-play, and the trading of charitable and genuine fondness. The most common way of celebrating this festival is enlightening diyas on every day of all five days, beginning with the trayodasi tithi (thirteenth day) of the dim portion of the moon in the long stretch of Asvina (September-October).

The most popular belief associated with this Diwali festival is Hindu Lord Rama with his wife goddess Sita and Brother Laxmana reached his kingdom after victory over Lanka defeating lankeshapati  Ravana, completing 14 years of exile. As He was a very fava king among the people of his kingdom Ayodhya. His subject celebrated his return home by lighting a series of Diwas which is known as Dipawali ( Diyas + Ali (series). Banda is a nearby place of Chitrakoot situated in Bundelkhand region of UP. It is around 70 Km far from Chitrakoot. Both districts Banda and Chitrakoot are well for its cultural, religious, and archeological importance and have a significant place in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.  Both districts are known for its distinct feature of Diwali celebration by proposing eye-catching glimpses inviting men of letters to brood over, reflected by these districts at the occasion of the Diwali Festival.  Kamatanath, the holy Mountain is worshipped for blessing goddess Sita for her returning home safely with Lord Rama and Brother Lakshamana. Her desire is fulfilled by the blessing of Dev Kamatanath.  After the victory of Lord Rama, she came to Dev Kamatanath to express her obligation to fulfill her desire by lighting diyas there and making a round of the holy mountain. Since that time this tradition of lighting Diyas and making the round of the holy mountain became a tradition and it is still being followed by local denizens and others with full devotion. This way this Dipdaan each year becomes the centre of attraction in UP state.  The fervour of this Dipdaan can be seen in full swing the whole month. People go on their feet walking 20- 30 Km and more. Local vehicles can not run smoothly and all the schools and colleges remain closed during the period of Diwali. Everything just stops and Special protection forces are fixed everywhere to stop any mess. This way with great zeal Diwali and Dev Uthani Diwali are celebrated in Bundelkhand region. This has been the first very popular belief among people. The second myth related to Diwali is the holy matrimony of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi after the Samudra Manthan. It is believed that in process of churning the cosmic ocean of milk by the gods and demons, Goddess Lakshmi born. Then Lakshmi chose Lord Vishnu as her Husband on Diwali night. Consequently, Diwali is celebrated with the worship of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu. The significance of the Diwali festival is depicted in the epic of Mahabharata, where Pandavas returned to Hastinapur on the day of Kartik Amavasya after their banishment which happened to be the night of Diwali. It is the belief of people that the names of Rama and Krishna are also associated with Banda and Chitrakoot.

The folk dance called Diwari which is performed by villagers on the occasion of Diwali always catches the attention of people. How vigorously they play in groups is praiseworthy and advocates the need for the holistic development (balance between body and mind) of people. People participating in Diwari Dance (folk dance) must have a stick of bamboo in their hands It is about 6 feet long and its weight is around 500 grams. The heroic Ras dominates this Diwari performance, artists call their opponents to dance with a type of shout representing eager, anger and courage. Artists in the Diwari dance use drums, dressed up in colourful short dresses which make them move freely, bearing pajeb with bells to their legs and tie bell- girdles around their waists, holding the bundle of peacocks’ feather sticks in their hands.  All these enhance the magnificence of the Diwari dance.  They end their dance in the chorus. The Diwari dance starts with the Panchami of the month Bhado. From this day artists start their practices going in the villages and go on their practices. Its best presentation is displayed at the time of Diwali festival reaching Chitrakoot and moving around the holy mountain Kamatanath. Their performance shows us an amazing balance between their body and the pace of their moves. Their bodily moves are well-tuned. They constantly dance in a circle having aged, teenagers and children. The Diwari dance shows a type of martial art in which like warriors they attack opponents and others protect themselves from their attacks. This makes us feel the importance of elementary defense skills and should maintain excellent physical fitness. One should be capable to protect own self. In this line one more interesting tradition associated to Diwari artists is that they keep their mouths shut which is called MAUN CHARANA just on the next day after Diwali. They collect peacocks’ feathers and tie in a bundle then with this they visit five villages then, end their fast. This also has a connection with the myth related to Lord Krishna. The logic which appears behind keeping fast of not uttering a single word boosts our self-power. There are many types of the Diwari dance like Pai Danda, Khapari (skull) far (torn), Dadhi (chin) tor, Ghuma hul hul, ek takana (leg), do takana, shaiahi (stick) Diwari, etc. Each has its own characteristics. The artists of Diwari have displayed their performance not only in India but abroad also like Srilanka, Mauritius, and Indonesia. They have secured recognition by bagging international awards.

Elucidation of the mythological background of the Diwari dance is apt to cite here. The origin of Diwari dance took place at the time of Lord Rama reached Ayodhya after the victory of Lanka. At that time there was a unique jubilance in the atmosphere, lakhs of diyas were lit no to let any darkness lie anywhere. Name of Diwari came in existence in name of Diwali which is the result of the distortion. This Diwari dance came in practice from the dwapar yug of Lord Krishna. Dwapar Yug signifies an agricultural economy which is basically based on cows. Krishna holds flute made of bamboo and sticks too in hands and his brother Balram, plow (hal) which is used in farming. It is believed that Lord Krishna used to take cows for graze in the forest with his friends and he with them used to dance with his flute and sticks. Keeping sticks in their hands was relevant to them. The sticks used in dance are called paee (danda) and is an indispensable part of many dances like paee danda  garaba and chausad. The origin of the Diwari dance marked to Banda which was Viratpuri earlier. During Agyatvash (exile in disguise) Pandavas stayed here and fought the battle in disguise with Kauravas in care of king Virat for forcibly taking cows of the king Virat and defeating Kauravas. Danda paee and Diwari dance started in Mathura and Vrindavan but saw its development at the time of Krishana’s arrival at Viratpuri (Banda). The 'Diwari folk dance' of Bundelkhand is associated with the Govardhan mountain too. In the Dwapar time, when Shri Krishna lifted the Govardhan mountain on his finger and saved the people of Braj from the fury of Indra, the people of Braj were cheerful and observed Shri Krishna's triumph over Indra by moving this wall, and the cowherds of Braj did it to overcome the foe. considered the best specialty of for that reason Indra must be crushed in the wake of seeing Shri Krishna's Leela.

It can be stated in a nutshell that Bundelkhand has saved the rainbow of customs and culture and is known for 'Strip Maar Diwali' at the time of Diwali which is a sort of folk dance. Folk dance and song reveal the depth of the particular culture. To understand the culture of any place it is highly recommended to read and understand their cultures free from globalization. This way it is a moderate endeavour to project a very significant culture of Bundelkhand before the readers which will definitely enhance your knowledge of Indian Culture. 


More by :  Dr. Punam Pandey

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