There are actually two types of Deodhani. One is a semi
classic dance and the other is a trance (not a dance). The Deodhani Dance
prevalent in Mangaidoi and southwest Kamrup area, which is linked to the
Sukanani Oja-Pall. It is nice to see that the present promoters of this
dance have refined it to a readily acceptable beauty.
Satriya - The Beautiful Classic Dance Of Assam
Towards the end of 15th century Mahapurush Sankaradeva, the greatest son of Assam and a great Vaishnavite saint created the Satriya dances, which emerged as one of the finest dance form of India. His able disciple Mahapurush Madhavdev enhanced the classic quality of this dance form during the 16th century.
These two great gurus created four principal dance systems within the Satriya repertoire. These were
(1) Bihar Nritya
(2) Ras Nritya
(3) Zumura Nritya and
(4) Nadu Bhangi Nritya.
These four dance systems were infact short dance dramas, that is, each of them was based on certain dramas written by the two great gurus.
Main Parts Of Satriya Dance
The five main parts of Satriya Dance as created by the two great gurus were (1) 'Purbaranga' with a 'Dhemali', (2) Krishna Bandana with a 'Nandi Stok' and a 'Bhatima', (3) 'Ramdani', which was a pure dance, (4) Geetar Nach, which had "Abhinaya" with dance, and (5) Mela Nach, which was another pure dance at the end. Madhavdev incorporated Mela Nach into the system.
Witnessing The Dance Celebration
If a tourist comes to Assam during the later part of August and the early part of September then the best place to see these dances is Kamalabari Sattra of Titabar near Jorhat. A tourist staying at Kaziranga can go by car to the Sattra (75-km one way) and see a few Satriya Dances there.
Not to be missed is "Dhemah", which normally precedes an important dance. The Dhemalis produced by this Sattra is the best and its aesthetic quality is something a tourist cannot find in any other part of the country except Manipur. A dance buff might opt to forsake sleep to see a late night's "Ghosa Dhemali", where classic Hastas are displayed by the 'Bayans' as they play the 'Khol'.
Satriya dance can also be seen in a dozen Sattras of Majuli, which is the biggest river island of the world. A boat trip to Majuli during this time is almost an adventure, which many tourists would like. The serene musical atmosphere of the Satras, the heart of the Assamese culture will certainly impress them.
Ras Nritya seen in Ras festival of Garmur Sattra of Majub is impressive. However, for a tourist who visits Assam during winter (November- February) the best place to see the Satriya dance is Guwahati. Guwahati now houses quite a few institutions where this dance form is taught or where lot of research is going on to recover its lost traits.
The Satriya Dance Festival
A tourist to Assam during winter would do well to find out if their visits coincide with the annual Satriya Dance festival organised by one of the following institutions: Puspanjall Cultural Academy, Sangeet Sattra, Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha and Sattra Mahasabha. The Satriya Dance festival organised by these institutions would normally have all the facts of this dance including Dhemalis by Goyan Bayans. Apart from this, many institutions show Satriya Dance on the make shift open stages during Bihu festival (April-May).