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India has a multitude of festivals across all religions, races & tribes that depicts its rich cultural heritage. Music & Dance are integral part of most of these festivals. The article is about my experience of participating in a tribal dance show while returning from Gorumara National Park trip.
Many of us, in several occasions, must have danced on various classical or Bollywood beats, but how’s about moving on the beats of Dhamsa? Ever heard of Dhamsa? It is a tribal musical instrument. Sounds interesting right! During our Dooars trip, I got a chance to take part in a tribal dance show.
Dooars, the foot of the Himalayas in North-eastern India, is a wonderful tourist destination with a number of tea gardens & National Parks. It is also the gateway to Bhutan. Gorumara is one of the important National Parks in Dooars that is home to multiple species of mammals, birds & reptiles and is most famous for one horned Indian Rhino. The National Park is located in Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal. The Authorities there arrange Jungle Safari trips and Watch Tower trips for the tourists in the morning as well as in the evening. This tribal dance show is a value addition to the late afternoon Watch Tower trips.
After a depressing morning Jungle Safari, we again had to stand in the queue for 4 hours to purchase the tickets for evening Watch Tower trip (there is no online booking facility in Gorumara). The watch-tower trip was a little better as we could spot one bison, a few peacocks, elephants & deers. However, the Tribal dance show, followed by the trip, seriously made my day. Enjoying the beauty of the spontaneous moves of the dancers on the beats of dhamsa was something, which I longed for long. When we talk about the tribal dances of India, I doubt whether this dance is even considered among the top 20s. To me this dance was no less than a Santhali or Chau dance. The moves were fast…too fast to be captured as moments in my still lenses. However, quite enriching and refreshing to get stored as experiences in memories.
The Tribal Dance: A Short Video
Unlike our classical or folk dances, there was not much hand movement or expression, but there was great coordination. For me it was a showcase of unity & coordination where everyone was in sync and putting the same effort to make it a great show. The performers made their performance interactive by welcoming and encouraging us to match our steps with theirs.
I am a trained Bharatnatyam dancer but, this performance on the beats of dhamsa & madal was a different experience. We were moving on the beats holding each other’s waist, without understanding a single word of the song but enjoying every bit of it. Dance is a mode of expressing feelings, but trust me, I am at a loss of words while expressing this tribal dance experience.