Brata Dance

Brata Dance a form of folk dance performed on the occasion of a brata, a Hindu ritual vow, undertaken in order to attain some wish or desire. Generally Hindu women observe this vow. Bratas belong to two classes: those related to the scriptures and those related to folk religion. While there is a conspicuous absence of songs and dance in religious bratas, women spontaneously express their material desires through dance and song in folk worship. Adolescent girls participate in most of the brata dances. Generally, married women take part in Surya (Sun) Brata, Kartik Brata and Meghranir Kulanamano Brata (literally, the brata of the Cloud Queen lowering the kula or winnowing fan). Brata dances are performed in groups by both married and unmarried girls and women.

The dances are performed softly and slowly in an anti-clockwise movement. Married women, their heads modestly veiled, perform the Kulanamano Brata dance to invoke the rain clouds. Holding a corner of their saris in their right hands, they raise their kulas (rice cleaning bamboo spade) above their heads with their left hands. They then go round the brata-ring several times, chanting rhymes. Brata dances mainly depend on the movements of legs, hands and waist. But the postures of adolescent girls are markedly different from those of married women who swing and swirl their waists and bosoms in a display of sexism. The brata dances of married women are an expression of their maternal urges. [Shila Basak]