Berhampur, April 24 (Localwire): Scores of men paint their bodies in tiger stripes and hit the streets to perform a feisty dance in Behrampur’s biggest carnival parade, the Thakurani yatra.
Popularly called the tiger dance, because of the painted stripes on their bodies, it’s an integral part of the carnival a tradition that has been followed for generations.
Tiger dancers bring a special charm to the pageantry, as they perform the spirited dance to the tune of the string-instrument “changu”, while thousands of men, women and children join them in a procession.
Before painting their bodies, dancers offer special prayers at the temples.
This spectacular display of people and culture at the biannual month-long festival is a sight to behold.
It’s believed that dancers paint their bodies to resemble a tiger because it has the blessings of goddess Thakurani.
The Changu players surround them in a circle while they perform in the procession.
This year, the carnival will conclude on April 29.
“I perform the dance to appease the goddess to help me overcome my difficulties,” said B. Srinivas Rao.
Niranjan Mohanty, a local resident, said that more and more dancers are joining the parade every year.
“It’s not easy to perform,” said Raj Kumar Behera, a professional tiger dancer. “A tiger dancer has to maintain discipline and live a yogic life,” he added.
“It takes months of practice to perform the dance perfectly.
I had trained regularly for a month before the start of the carnival,” said Anand Rao, another dancer.
In 1989, noted film director Budhadeb Dasgupta had immortalized the dance in his national award-winning movie “Bagh Bahadur”.
But before directing the critically acclaimed film, he had visited Berhampur during the carnival to watch this spectacular tiger dance.