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Cheraw Dance (Bamboo Dance of India)

Cheraw is the traditional dance form of Tribes of Mizoram. Mizoram is a bamboo-rich northeastern state of India and its culture revolves around bamboo. No surprises its most popular dance form is a bamboo dance known as Cheraw Dance.

This beautiful dance is a combination of beautiful rhythm, skill, and synchrony. Men and Women dressed in their traditional dresses in a group of 6 to 8 perform this dance to celebrate their happy occasions like a good harvest, festivals, weddings, ceremonies, etc.

Mizo Tribe Performing Cheraw
Male performers squat on the ground holding bamboo staves in a crisscross formation resting them on wooden bases on both sides (##), and they tap the bamboo staves to the base and with each other in a rhythmic fashion creating a melodious thumping sound. The female dancers from the village then perform the beautiful dance while hopping in and out of the bamboos matching the pace and rhythm of the male performers. Dance movements involve the depiction of natural happenings and surroundings like swaying of trees in winds, or birds flying, flowers blossoming, etc.

It is believed that this dance form is as old as 1st century AD, and was performed in earlier times only to appease the spirits on the death of a child. The spirits of the child according to the old beliefs, had to pass through the custodian of paradise 'Pu Pawla', before it could enter the 'Pialral', The paradise. According to beliefs, performing the Cheraw dance ensured a safe entry of the spirit of the child to the paradise. Cheraw is, therefore, a dance of sanctification and redemption performed with great care, calculated precision, and elegance.

Darlong Tribe Performing Cheraw
However, In Darlong and Lushai Tribes of Tripura state of India, relatives of pregnant women also perform a Cheraw dance and they also call it Fahrel Inkan. They perform this dance in the last stage of pregnancy, and immediately before the delivery all relatives gather and perform the Cheraw dance to instill courage and confidence in the pregnant woman, and also to ensure that even if the woman dies during childbirth, she gets into the heaven having joy, courage, and confidence generated by the sound of bamboo.

This type of dance form is found in almost every Southeast Asian country like India, China, Malaysia, Philipines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. All their dance form, of course, has some distinguishable variations and also recognizable similarities at the same time. It is highly likely that forefathers of Mizo people had brought this dance form when they migrated from far-east Asian region to current Mizoram region of India

Cheraw is now taught in schools and performed on all festive occasions as a part of the cultural programme. A Guinness World Record for Largest Bamboo Dance was made by Cheraw dancers of Mizoram State of India, in the year 2010. Constituting of a total of 10,736 performers. (Later this record was broken in the year 2018, by the Chinese bamboo dancers of Hainan province by performing a 6-minute bamboo dance by 11914 participants.)

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