spectacular dance from Braj region of Uttar Pradesh - the land of
Lord Krishna and his consort - Radha. Veiled women balancing large
multi-tiered circular wooden pyramids on their heads, alight with
108 oil lamps, dance to the strains of 'rasiya' - songs of Lord Krishna.
Charkula is especially performed on the third day after Holi - the day which Radha was born. According to legend,
Radha's grandmother ran out of the house with the charkula on her
head to announce the birth of Radha, Since then, Charkula has formed
a popular dance form of Brajbhoomi, performed during various festivities.
Every aspect of the culture of the
Braj region of Uttar Pradesh is associated with Lord Krishna hence
how was it possible for a dance form or a song, a story or a legend
of Braj to remain untouched with the Krishna legend ! So it happened
with the Charkula dance as well -- a folk dance of the Braj area,
which has also found it's origin in the Krishna legend. It is believed
that the Charkula dance celebrates the happy victory over Indra
by Krishna and the cowherd community of Braj. This dance, therefore,
became a symbol of happiness as well as joyful rapture. Krishna
raised the mount Goverdhan and as if to re-enact the Govardhan Leela
the dancing damsel of Braj raises the 50 Kilo Charkula on her head
while performing the Charkula dance.
long skirts reaching the toes and a blouse, the dancing damsel covers
her body and face with the odhani and with it's lighted lamps on
her head and lighted lamps in both the hands, she dances, synchronising
her steps with the beat of the drum. Her movements are limited because
of the heavy load on her head.
She cannot bend her body, nor can she
move her neck. In spite of these limitations the slim, sturdy and
courageous dancer dances, gliding, bending, piruetting to the tune
of the song. The climax is reached when enraptured by the collective
merriment of the occasion, the singers also starts dancing and,
with the swift beat of music and movement, the onlookers find themselves
carried away by the rejoicings.
This is the rich tradition of folk-songs
that is found in the Braj area. Rasiya songs describe the love of
the divine couple Radha and Shri Krishna. It is an inseparable part
of the Holi celebrations and all other festive occasions at Braj.
The Rasiya is sung to the rhythm of huge drums, locally known as