The Tribals who constitute about one fourth of the total population of Odisha have very many dances of secular, religious and seasonal in character. Living in the midst of nature their dances and songs are vivid, temperamental and attuned to nature herself. Nature is always the strongest inspiration for them, coupled with the customs and religious heritage.
The colourful spring time dance of the ‘Santals’ with their musical instrument, ‘Madal’ performed by the maidens, their pastoral dance during ripening of grain, the dance of the ‘Kolha’ at the time of planting of the seeds in honour of their deity is performed by men and women. The dances of the Gonds done in dedication to their deity ‘Bhimsen’ at harvesting festival time, marriage celebrations accompanied by several musical instruments like the horned-drums, flutes and many clarions.
The spring dance of the ‘Bhattara’ with beautiful dresses, silver ornaments of women, flushed as they move and the colourful turbans of the men stuck with peacock feathers. The ‘Sua’ dance of the Sambalpur tribes performed by the young girls in the spirit of adventure and romance accompanied by drummers and musicians. The ring dance of the ‘Oron’ performed during all festivals and in the spring and autumn seasons in a circle. The women dancers placing their arms at the back of their neighbours and clasping the hands of the next, the courtship dances of ‘Ho’. The ‘Jhadia Paraja’ dance exhibiting graceful movement and artistic skill, the colourful dance of the ‘Gadaba’, the dance of the ‘Koya’s with the headdress of Bison horn. Women dressed in colourful attires with iron sticks in hands making a jingling sound in accompaniment of musical instruments.
The dance of the ‘Kutal Kandha’ with the single stringed ‘Dungadunga’, the peacock, sparrow, vulture, deer dances of ‘Juang’ to the tune of their musical instrument, ‘Changu’ and ‘Badakatha’, and a wide variety of dances clearly give an idea how the culture of the tribals born out of nature and attuned to nature can live and flourish spontaneously. These are just a few representative examples of the tribal dances of Odisha. The tribal dance itself is vast in variety indicating their importance in the social and religious life of the people.