GHUMARA The Adrenaline Rush!!!


 By Upagupt Mohanty


Timel e ss songs like ‘Rangabati’ in Odia or Bollywood’s ‘Dum Maro Dum’ have enchanted generations and their fervour still lives on. Music, singing and dancing enrich our lives in many ways. It caters to the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of an individual. Music and dance have the power, not just to heal but also to bring in change. As A.R Rehman says “If music wakes you up, makes you think, heals you…then, I guess the music is working”. I remember reading somewhere about a congregation of 600 guitarists at Darjeeling, where they played the musical version of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. It was all for a cause… to stir up a dormant society against the gruesome rape and murder of ‘Nirbhaya’. It did go a long way in gathering momentum for a movement like never before, eventually gaining justice for her departed soul. Even in the past, folk music, song and dance were the media for communication amongst the masses. Understandably, each district of Odisha has a distinctive form of folk dance. The origin and manner of expression for these dance forms has always intrigued the subsequent generations.

During one such bout of intrigue, when I was reading up about some popular dance forms of Odisha, I stumbled upon ‘Ghumura’ a.k.a ‘Ghumura Dance’, which is the cultural heritage of Kalahandi district. The genesis of Ghumura dates back to thousands of years. Historians believe that it existed in the human habitations in and around the Indravati river valley. The ancient paintings found in the caves of Gudahandi of Kalahandi district and Yogi Matha of Nuapada district, provide sufficient evidence about the growth and spread of this dance form which finds its prevalence in the Medieval period, which is established from the depictions at the Sun Temple of Konark. Ms. Madhumita Mohanty, an Odia film and TV personality who has also been associated with cultural shows of Odisha says “As the legend goes…The Ghumura music was instrumental in the slaying of the demon king, ‘Mahisasura’ at the hands of Goddess Durga”. The indigenous costumes, scintillating music, flawless expressions and tantalizing movements highlight the valour associated with this dance form. In the past, the heroic Ghumura dance form enjoyed high patronage by the royalties of Bhawanipatna,

Jayapatna, Madanpur, Rampur, Khariar etc. Odisha has always charmed the outsiders with its varied forms of folk dance and music owing to its tribal genesis. The ‘Gond’, ‘Kond’, and ‘Bhatra’ tribes perform during religious and cultural festival such as ‘Gamha Purnima’, ‘Nuakhai’ or ‘Dussehra’. Ghumura encircles an ethereal cultural heritage of India, identified by its tribal costumes and accessories and resemblance with the classical ‘mudras’ or poses. Performed only by men (20-25 in number), who sing and dance to the beats of the Ghumura instrument in a tribal outfit. Ghumura, the instrument is a type of a drum which is shaped like a pitcher, creating a musical sound. Ghumura is derived from GHUM+U+RA=GHUMURA, ‘Ghum’ which refers to an earthen pot, ‘U’ which refers to Lord Shiva and ‘Ra’ which refers to sound. The typical drum is a two feet long hollow earthen pot covered with the skin of a monitor lizard (Goddhi).

In the earlier times, Ghumura was used for motivating soldiers during wartime. It is also known as Veer Vadya representing the valour and bravery. In the preindependence era, the kings approved Ghumura as the military musical instrument that helped the ‘Paikas’ workout and motivated the warriors. It was used to convey social messages during leisure time. The expressions and movements of the male artists along with the sounds of instruments like ‘ghumura’, ‘nishan’, ‘dhol’, ‘taal’ and ‘madal’, made the performance very virile and heroic much to the liking of the warriors. Today, i t is pre v a l e nt geographically from the tribal belt of Kalahandi to the non-tribal regions. Lately, this folk dance form has mesmerized its viewers and earned a lot of name and fame in the country and overseas. Ghumura, to a great extent, creatively expresses elements integrating religious hymns, literature from mythology and the glory of the past. Music can make us cry, it can take us to trance, it can make our lazy feet dance and it can get the adrenaline rush going for any form of combat.That’s the incredible power of music, song and its artistic representation. Beautifully said by Beethoven “Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman”.

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