Pandwani Dance – Chhattisgarh’s Rich Heritage in Storytelling through Dance


Pandwani dance form is another unique folk dance of Chhattisgarh. You will be surprised to know that this folk dance is often referred to as the dark horse of Chhattisgarh folk dance. Another interesting feature of this form of Pandavani dance, which distinguishes it from others, is through the performance, when the dancers try to portray the story of the Pandavas, the main characters of the epic battle of the Mahabharata.

That is why people come from far away to watch this dance performance. Teejan Bai is well known in the surrounding areas as a performer of the Pandavani dance form. You will surely be pleased to know that she has even won several awards including the prestigious Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri and so on for her excellent skills in Pandanvani dance.

Origin of Pandwani Dance

Teejan Bai and Ritu Verma are famous Pandvani singers. The origin of this singing style is unknown; according to its lead singer Teejana Bai, it could be as old as the Mahabharata itself, as very few people could read at that time, and thus stories could be passed down between generations through art forms such as the Pandavani.

Ancient epics, anecdotes and stories are told or re-enacted to educate and entertain the masses in this theatrical form. The singer-narrator may break into an impromptu dance at important points in the narrative, such as ending an episode or celebrating a victory.

Performance of Pandwani Dance

Pandwani is narrated in a very vivid manner, almost constructing the scenes in the minds of the audience. The performers in a Pandwani narrative consist of a main performer and several backing singers and musicians.

The lead artist narrates one episode after another from the epic in a very impressive manner. Renders characters in scenes to create a more realistic effect. Sometimes they even start dancing. Gradually, the story develops and the performance gains in intensity.

Between performances, the lead singer constantly interacts with the backing singers, who ask questions and make comments. Performances can last several hours in one episode of the Mahabharata. One can observe that what begins as a simple story telling eventually turns into a full-blown ballad.

Musical Instruments of Pandwani Dance

The melodic journey of Pandwani dance is accompanied by a symphony of musical instruments. Harmonium, tabla, dholka, and majira come together to create a captivating rhythm that enhances the storytelling. These instruments lend depth and emotion to the performances, creating a mesmerizing fusion of music and movement.

Pandwani Dance Styles

There are 2 types of narration in Pandwani; Vedamati and Kapalik. within the Vedamati vogue, the lead creative person narrates in an exceedingly straightforward manner by sitting on the ground throughout the performance. The Kapalika vogue is additional vivid, wherever the storyteller truly plays out the scenes and characters.

People Who Popularized Pandwani Dance

One cannot explore the world of dance without mentioning the exceptional individuals who have played a pivotal role in its popularity. Teejan Bai, a trailblazing artist, holds a significant place in the hearts of Pandwani enthusiasts. Her groundbreaking performances and contributions to the art form have garnered international acclaim, earning her prestigious accolades such as the Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. Teejan Bai’s passion and dedication have inspired countless others to embrace and celebrate Pandwani dance.

Conclusion of Pandwani Dance

As we conclude our exploration of Pandwani dance, we hope you’ve gained a deeper appreciation for this captivating form of storytelling through music and movement. The dance, with its timeless tales and enchanting performances, continues to inspire and captivate audiences worldwide. Whether you’re a dance enthusiast, a lover of mythology, or simply curious about different cultures, This dance offers a unique window into the rich tapestry of Indian folklore.

FAQ of Pandwani Dance

Q1. What is Pandwani Dance?

Pandwani dance is a traditional folk dance form from the state of Chhattisgarh in India. It is closely associated with the Pandwani narrative form, which is a traditional musical storytelling style based on the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata.

Q2. How is Pandwani Dance performed?

Pandwani dance is typically performed by a single performer called the “Pandwani artist” who narrates the epic tales through a combination of music, song, and dramatic gestures. The artist is accompanied by a group of musicians playing traditional instruments like the dholak, harmonium, and manjira (cymbals).

Q3. What are the themes of Pandwani Dance?

The themes of Pandwani dance revolve around the heroic stories and episodes from the Mahabharata. It includes tales of valor, sacrifice, moral dilemmas, and the triumph of good over evil. The performance often highlights characters like Bhima, Arjuna, Draupadi, and Krishna.

Q4. Is Pandwani Dance only performed by professionals?

While Pandwani dance is traditionally performed by trained artists, it has also gained popularity as a cultural art form and is sometimes performed by enthusiasts or amateur groups. However, the nuanced storytelling and mastery of the art form are typically associated with professional performers.

Q5. What is the significance of Pandwani Dance?

Pandwani dance is a significant cultural expression that preserves the ancient stories and traditions of the Mahabharata. It serves as a means of entertainment, education, and moral instruction, as it portrays the timeless values and ethical dilemmas faced by the characters in the epic.

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