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Thu, 22 Aug 2019

Northeast Today

Soul of Mizoram: Cheraw dance

Soul of Mizoram: Cheraw dance
May 24
15:00 2019

Himshree Das

Cheraw dance is a traditional cultural dance performed in Mizoram. The dance is characterized by the use of bamboo staves, which are kept in cross and horizontal positions on the ground. It mainly consists of mostly six to eight people holding pairs of bamboo staves upon another horizontally placed bamboo on the ground. The male dancers move these bamboo staves in rhythmic beats and the female dancers perform by stepping in and out of the bamboo blocks. It is considered as one of the oldest dances of Mizoram which has become an integral part of the state within the course of time and is performed in almost every function.

Origin

The Cheraw dance is believed to be originated as early as the 1st century AD. According to certain historical sources this dance style was first developed in the Yunan Province in China. It was then during the 13th century that the mongoloid community introduced this dance into the state of Mizoram. It is simultaneously supported by two bases which consist of bamboo. It is said that during the ancient time, Cheraw dance was performed in rituals as believed, to provide solace to the soul of a deceased mother who had passed on leaving her newborn child on earth.

Cheraw dance

 

Music and Costume

The costumes worn by the performers include colourful traditional dance attire belonging to the state that includes the Thihna, Vakiria, Kawrchei, and Puanchei.

The main form musical instrument used in this dance form includes two crossed pairs of bamboo staves that the performers hold in their hands. In addition, the musical rhythm is created by the clapping of the bamboo staves.

Techniques involved in the dance

In the performance, the dancer moves by stepping alternatively in and out from between and across a pair of horizontal bamboos. People sitting  opposite to each other hold these bamboos against the ground. The bamboos are clapped together on a particular beat by the male dancers. The movements created by bamboos at the time of clapping produce a sharp sound. That particular sound forms the rhythm of the dance, indicating the timing for the dancing steps as well. The females who have the sense of a perfect timing, dance gracefully by stepping in and out of the crossed and horizontally laid bamboo staves. The dancers move by stepping alternatively in and out from between and across a pair of horizontal bamboos, held against the ground by the males. Choreographed aesthetically with grace, the dancers whilst moving their arms in a swinging motion steps in and out to the beats of the bamboos. Usually the patterns and stepping of the dance have many variations that are very graceful. Sometimes the steps are made in imitation of the movements of birds, sometimes to show the swaying of trees, and it goes on.

Occasions and rituals

The dance is being performed by an individual family on the occasion of `Buhza Aih` that is the bumper harvest. It is not a community dance but a dance performed by a few selected girls having extraordinary skills. It is also performed in marriage ceremonies and on the time of merry-makings to celebrate success. During such occasions, large number of people gathers to watch the proud performance of `Cheraw` dance by the few skillful dancers. It is generally performed on a moonlit night that adds a glory to it. At the time of performance, the sound of the bamboo hitting each other is the rhythm for the dance. But even if a rhythm is missed, the experienced dancers perform various steps with grace and care. The drum and the gong are two traditional musical instruments of the Mizos.

Conclusion

Recently the horizon of Cheraw Dance has expanded considerably. In fact this dance is performed on every occasion by the Mizo people of Mizoram. This dance has become an integral part of Mizoram. This dance has become an identity of the people of Mizoram. The dance form is also been performed in various other parts of India.  The enthusiasm and the cheerful mood of the Mizos are truly expressed through their dances. This dance form is being spreading to other parts of north east. Many people know this dance by the name of bamboo dance instead of its original term “Cheraw”. This dance is truly full of grace and responsibility.

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