Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 11:
Odisha is a land of bara maasa tera paraba (twelve months and thirteen festivals) and filled with rich culture and tradition. In the months of March and April even with terrible heat wave sweeping across the state, Danda naacha a dance which means punishment of the body with religiosity, is celebrated across the state with much fervour. The opening ritual of the Danda Naacha begins from the middle of the Chaitra month (in mid March) and continues till Pana Sankranti (mid April).
All Shiva temples wear a festive look as the religious activity starts from here and Goddess Kali is the main deity worshiped. The devotees join the Danda group, wear white cotton, eat vegetarian food once a day and pledge a silent sahami (promise) and after the sacred yagnya each Dandua wears a thread called the tera budhuta thus becoming a member of one family. Beating the drums, clanging the cymbals and playing the mahuris the Danduas (all men) start the thirteen days journey performing the Dandaa naacha. Different hues of flags and bunches of peacock feathers are also held by the dancers to give a colourful look to this vigorous dance .
In the scorching and sweltering heat the dhuli danda starts from 12 noon to four in the evening. This literally means penance on the sand and they dance to the beat of the drums and cymbals. Rolling on the hot earth the dancers are coated with sand and dust.
After the vigorous Dhuli danda the danduas then go to a water body to perform pani danda or penance by water. Originally from the Ganjam district this art has spread all over the state. Weaving religion into folk dance and beautifying the sacred belief of becoming one with the supreme power, Danda naacha is an intergral part of rural Odisha but is observed in towns and cities also.