Sattriya Dance

Topics: Srimanta Sankardeva, Assam, Dance in India Pages: 11 (3543 words) Published: December 3, 2011


This paper titled-‘Sattriya Dance-The Living Tradition of Assam’ basically talks about two different aspects related to this dance form. In the first part of the paper, Sattriya Dance as a medium for propagation of Vaishnavism has been discussed. In this part, the prominent role played by Srimanta Sankaradeva to spread the message of Bhakti Movement by using an expressive dance form has been described. This part of the paper basically talks about how Sattriya Dance was used as a communication tool to spread the message of Vaishnavism among the different tribes in Assam. In the second part of the paper, the rising popularity of Sattriya Dance due to the usage of different forms of media like Newspapers, Radio, Local Television channels, Internet etc have been described. Various examples have also been given where the prominent role played by the media in the promotion of Sattriya Dance can be clearly identified.


When we think of the beautiful state of Assam, the words that usually strikes us is ‘tea’, ‘Ulfa’, ‘Bihu’ etc.But very few outsiders know that it is also a land of one of the exotic classical dances of India namely ‘Sattriya Dance’. It is not just a dance or an art form which is used as a means of entertainment and fun. It is something which is much more than that and has always been part of Assamese culture and tradition.

This research paper attempts to look at this dance form from two angles-Sattriya dance as a powerful medium for propagation of the Vaishnava faith and Sattriya dance and its rising popularity through the use of media.

Sattriya Dance as a communication tool for the propagation of the Vaishnava faith in Assam

During the 15th century, Assam was the home of people belonging to different culture, tribes, religions etc.The majority of the people belonged to non-Aryan tribes and they had distinct culture, customs and religious beliefs. It was seen that many religious followers at that time used to indulge in evil practices like animal sacrifices, human sacrifices, magical rites, spells etc on the name of religion. As a result of this, many poor economically backward classes of people became victims of these horrendous practices. There were religious conflicts and chaos all around. When Assam was going through this tough phase,Srimanta sankardeva appeared on the scene.Mahapurusha Srimanta Shankardeva was a saint-scholar, a spiritual leader, a social reformer, playwright and a very prominent figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam. He wanted to bring all the diverse communities of Assam under a systematized religious code by creating a religion which would bring new faiths, beliefs and abolish the trend of societal degradation and cultural distortion from the society. So he started a social movement in Assam named as the Bhakti movement to create an egalitarian civil society based on the principles of fraternity, equity, humanism and democracy. Through this movement, Srimanta Sankardeva preached a monotheistic philosophy called ‘Ek Xoron Naam Dharma’ which reflects the idea that there is only one God for all of us. Now, in order to spread the philosophy of Bhakti movement throughout the state of Assam, Srimanta Sankardeva introduced Sattriya dance form and used it as a powerful medium for propagation of the Vaishnava faith.

Sattriya Dance is one of the classical dances of India which was originated in Assam. It is derived from the word ‘Sattra’ which means monasteries as it was earlier performed mostly in monastery kind of religious institutions.

Rising popularity of Sattriya Dance because of the usage of media

Even though Sattriya dance always had elements and features to become one of the Classical Dances of India, it was initially never considered as a classical dance. It was never put in the same pedestal as other classical dance forms of India. It was less popular as this art form was...
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