Gotipua Dance – A Majestic Folk Dance

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Evolved out of the Mahari or Devadasi dance traditions performed in temples of Odisha, the Gotipua dance has been believed as the pre-cursor to Odissi. For centuries, young boys who dress up as female to praise Lord Jagannath and Lord Krishna have performed the Gotipua dance in Odisha. Gotipua, the Odia etymon, literally means Goti (single) and Pua (boy).

 

As the name indicates, only boys dressed up as girls perform this sacred dance.

 

To transform into graceful feminine dancers, the boys do not cut their hair to make an elaborate hair-do in a knot. Garlands of flowers are woven into the hairs. They apply make-up on their face with white and red powder mixed together.

 

Kajal (black eyeliner) is applied around the eyes with a broad outline to give them an elongated look. The Bindi (red dot) is applied on the forehead with a pattern made from sandalwood around it. Traditional paintings adorn the face and are the identity of every dance school.

 

The dance costume has evolved over time. The traditional dress is a “Kanchula,” bright coloured blouse with shiny embellishment. An apron-like and embroidered silk cloth is tied around the waist like a frill worn around the legs: it is called “nibibandha.”

 

The Gotipua dancers have given up their traditional costume due to the influence of modernity. In some cases, they still adhere to the tradition: they use the pattasari made with one piece of tissue around four meters long, which is worn tightly by having equal lengths of material on both sides, and by tying a knot on the navel. A new designed cloth easier for dressing often replaces those traditional dresses.

 

The dancers wear specially designed jewellery made with beads: necklaces, bracelets, armbands and ear ornaments. The nose piercing jewellery is replaced nowadays by a painted motive. They add ankle bells to accentuate the beats tapped out by the feet. Palms and soles are painted with a red liquid called “Alta”.