Karam or Karma literally means ‘fate’ in Kosli Oriya. This pastoral Sambalpuri folk dance is performed during the worship of the god or goddess of fate (Karam Devta or Karamsani Devi), whom the people consider the cause of good and bad fortune. It begins from Bhadra Shukla Ekadasi (eleventh day of the brightmoon of the month of Bhadra) and lasts for several days. This is popular among the scheduled class tribes (e.g., the Binjhal, Kharia, Kisan and Kol tribes) in the districts of Balangir, Kalahandi, Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Mayurbhanj. This dance is in honour of Karamsani, the deity who bestows children and good crops. After the puja is done it is followed by singing and dancing in accompaniment of drum (maandal), cymbal etc. The dance performance full of vigour and energy combined with charm of the youth decked with colourful costumes in exuberance of red cloth, set in peacock feathers, skillfully designed ornaments made of small conch shells, brings the onlookers as well as the performers to a mood of trance and ecstasy. In this dance both men and women take part and continue to engross themselves for the whole night. The skillful movement of the young boys with mirror in hand indicates the traditional pattern of love-making in course of dancing and singing. The dance is performed sometimes by boys in group, sometimes by girls in group and sometimes both the sexes together. The subject matter of songs constitutes the description of nature, invocation to Karmasani, desires, aspiration of people, love and humour.
Basically, the word, Karma or Karam here referred to as ‘fate’ in the Kosli of Oriya. It is a pastoral Sambalpuri dance being seen at the time of the worshipping of the goddess or god of fate, the Karamsani Devi and Karam Devta respectively. These gods and goddesses play a vital role in the lives of people as they are considered as the cause of good as well as bad fortune. It starts from Bhadra Shukla Ekadasi which is the 11th day of the Bhadra month when there is bright moon. It lasts for a number of days. It has been found that usually this type of dance is performed by the people belonging to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes such as the Binjhal, Kisan, Kharia and Kol tribes residing in the areas such as Kalahandi, Balangir, Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj and Sambalpur. The dance is meant for honoring Karamsani, the deity who is regarded as responsible for bestowing children as well as good crops. Once the completion of the puja takes place, it is followed by songs and dance performances by the people along with the drum accompanied called as maandal and cymbal.
There is a lot of fun and excitement exhibited by the youth when they dance with vigour and their spirit accompanied by their charm adds colors to it. People can be witnesses wearing beautiful colorful dresses with dark colors exuberated such as red clothes along with feathers of peacock. These dresses are designed skillfully and there are ornaments especially designed for the occasion. Not only the participants but the audiences also are full of ecstasy. Both men as well as women are found to be taking part and are found engrossing themselves for the entire night. As per the tradition, the boys make movements having a mirror in their hands indicating the pattern of making love while the dance is taking place. The dance performance is done by groups of boys as well as groups of girls while they can dance together as well. The subjective behind these songs and dances is to constitute the nature description which is under the control of Karamsani who takes care of people love, wishes, aspirations and humor as well. Therefore, Karma Nach has a significant role to play in the lives of people of Odisha.
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