Kendrapara, March 09(LocalWire): One of the most ancient dance forms of Odisha, the Kela- Keluni dance associated with Dola or the Holi Festival seems to have declined by almost 50 per cent within the last two decades in the coastal district of Kendrapara and nearby areas.
Kela-Keluni Dance is a dance form associated with snake- charmers mostly belonging to the Schedule caste in parts of Odisha.
Two decades ago around 300 snake- charmers popularly known as ‘Kelas’ of Mahakalapada, Rajnagar, Rajkanika , Aul and Garadapur blocks in Odisha used to perform the folk dance in many festivals. Today, only 100 Kelas are left.
“We prepare male and female dolls using bamboo and clothes to perform the Kela -Keluni dance.
Holi is the peak season as we perform the dance in the Dola processions taken out by temples in the locality,” said Mahesh.
“We first make skeletons of the dolls with bamboo.
The frame is then stuffed with soil and coloured papers. We paint the dolls at the final stage.”
We fit our head on the dolls and dance to the tunes of the Kela- Keluni songs,” said Bharat Das, a dancer of Maharakula.
“During my father’s time, around 50 families of Garadapur and Derabishi were Kela- Keluni dancers.
Now the number has reduced to 20 families”,said Ajaya Das(52) a Kela- Keluni performer of Garadapur village.
“The new generation isn’t taking up the profession as it requires hard labour and a very little income in return.
It is only the elders of the community that are trying to keep the folk dance alive,” said Giridhari Das another artisan of Garadapur village.
In the absence of patronage, the Kela- Keluni dancers have given up all hopes of arresting the declining trend in the age-old dance.
“Unless the government comes forward with proper aid, the entertainers will be forced to let their dance form pass into oblivion,” said Bhaskar Das another dancer of Mahakalapada.
Kelas are a class of entertainers. The Kela-Keluni dance is a popular duet-dance form which has influenced Odisha’s drama and art over the years.
It owes its origin to the folk dances of Kelas.
Kela- Keluni dances are also associated with Dola festival.
The principal movements are of the buttocks and the knees.
Dancers perform it in front of the procession of the idols of Radha and Krishna during Dola festival.
“An artisan enters his head through the hole kept in the dolls and moves back and fro to the tunes of Dhola and Mahuri accompanied by the songs composed by local poets,” said Dr Basudev Das a noted researcher and the member of Odisha Sahitya Academy.
“Kela- Keluni dance shows have powerful visual impact and establish direct rapport with the audience. It can be tailored to promote civic sense, promote awareness of socio-economic problems and national issues.
It will be worthwhile for the government to look into the neglected dance form and evolve schemes for its revival,” added Dr Das .
When contacted District Project Manager (DPM) of Odisha Livelihood Mission, Satyabhama Pradhan said “ We will soon form few Self Help Groups among the Kela- Keluni dancers in the district and provide them proper training and financial assistance to save this dance from extinction.”