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Dhali Nritya


Dhali Nritya a mode of war dance performed by men, especially popular among aboriginal communities. This dance originated in the medieval period and imitated the martial techniques of the armed warrior groups raised by the zamindars of Bengal from the lowly Hadi, bagdi, and dom communities. The dance simulates attacks and counterattacks as in battle. In his right hand the dancer carries a bamboo stick, wooden sword or spear and in his left hand a shield made of wood, leather or cane. The shield is used to fend off attacks and the stick or sword to attack the adversary. The dance may be performed solo or in a group of three. At times it is performed by two groups, with the main warrior surrounded by his bodyguards.

Body movements and facial expressions are used to display the courage and excitement of attacking the enemy or the pain and fear of being attacked. The dancer demonstrates battle techniques and heroic movements to the accompaniment of drums and bell-metal instruments. The dancer often wears a tight-fitting dhoti and ties a red bandanna on his head and a piece of cloth on his arm. The dance is popular in the jessore and khulna regions of Bangladesh and is also performed by Muslims during muharram. [Sambaru Chandra Mohanta]

See also folk dances.