Danda nacha, The annual festival of praying Maa Kali or Danda kali through dance and sacrifice of modern day amenities is one of the oldest summer festivals in Ganjam district. The festival is also famous in some part of Nayagarh and Khurda District too.
Check out some interesting facts about Odisha famous Danda Nacha
Article By: Gurudatta Panda
Photo Courtesy: Jagadish Sahu
The folk dance or Lokanrutya is a traditional dance format where there is no formal training. Hence the Danda nacha is also come under the folk dance genre. And this is the reason you can see a lot of variation among the danda teams from different part of Odisha who performs the Dhuli danda, pani danda and Agni danda in slight variations with each other. In the end the motto of the Danda nacha is same for all the teams participating in the festival.
The Danda nacha performance is a combined collaboration of participants called as Danduas or Bhukta. The chief priest or Dandua is called Pata Dandua who performs the ritual on a generation to generation basis. They are known as the strict followers of the worshipping throughout the year. When Danda Nacha festival is not in session, this chief serves as priest in most of the Dandakali temples from where the Dandua teams originates.
The Akhand Agni is the motivation for all the danduas throughout the danda nacha session. In a mysterious way, this fire never goes off despite bad weather conditions which happen during summer in Odisha commonly known as Kalabaisakhi. This is the divine connection of the festival which attracts many to pursue this worship method.
Rushi or Sage are the purest worshipping people on earth according to Hindu religious books. Hence the Danduas participating from different sections of the society remains as a purest form during these days if Danda yatra session leaving all luxury behind. They are called as Rushiputras or the son of sages during the session and often called in this name by the Pata dandua during dhuli danda..
We hope you are familiar with this word.
Danda nacha is a mixed worship form of Tribal and Aryan culture. Hence to remain as pure and free from any luxury to live like in forest, they are not allowed to rest under any artificially built buildings by humans adding up to the temporary tents too in the restricted category. Only tree shade is allowed as an approved resting place for them. In the night they rest and performs under open sky condition like playgrounds. However watching the less number of trees in urban areas, nowadays they are allowed to rest under temple premises nearby to their performance place.
Danda Nacha is an ancient worshipping festival of Odisha has many restrictions for the participants who are called Bhukta. One of the rules is one bhukta can’t discontinue the yatra in middle of the 21 days long period. This is what old rules say but with modernization in the yatra now, one can discontinue the yatra only in case of someone from his family is deceased. He has the option to continue his rest of the days in next session of the yatra which is one year after the current session. The Danduas or Bhukta are also not allowed to see their families in this time period and their families can meet them on the final day of the yatra which ends on Mahavisub Sankranti or Meru Sankranti. This rule signifies the sacrifice one has to give both mentally and physically.
This is the most important fact of Danda yatra. The danda or the punishment is the sacrifice of your luxury of life like Home, Cooked food, Family, Air conditioned rooms, soft beds etc. The participants always participate in the event for some of their personal desires which is known as “Manasika”. Hence sometimes they referred as Manasikadharis too. And as a part of Tribal culture they have to sacrifice something in return. So here the worshipping to Maa Dandakali and lord Shiva fulfilled by the painful performance of the dance in hot summer when para rises to 45° Celsious without caring about your health and wellness. Definitely this beleief of the people of Odisha has significant changes in the lifestyle of the Bhuktas. We also pray to the almighty god for wellness of the people and society.