Jatra corresponds to folk theatre. It is the enactment of a play with a cast and comprises music, dance, acting, singing and dramatic conflict. Earlier, religious values were communicated to the masses through the powerful medium of Jatra. Today, the style of writing plays for jatras has undergone changes. Jatra plays now no longer limited to the mythological, historical or fantastical subjects include social themes to suit modern taste.
Jatra is performed on a simple stage with the spectators surrounding it on all sides. The chorus and the musicians take their position off stage. There no stage properties except a single seat meant to serve various functions, as a throne, a bed or a way-side bench.
The actors move in a very theatrical manner. They deliver their speeches in high-sounding .words and have to be loud enough to catch the attention of the spectators seated on all sides. Consequently they adopt an exaggerated style are heavily made up. Their costumes glitter, their swords flash and their words thunder to the accompaniment of the crashing cymbals. Sometimes the actors are able to depict subtle emotional moods like, love, sorrow, pathos, but the element of exaggeration is always present as they have to project themselves as larger than life figures. Jatra becomes a great source of entertainment because of its tuneful traditional music with simple melodic lines, dance sequences, songs, action and humour. Taken as a whole, the jatra of Odisha has always remained essentially an institution of learning for the people in general
The Pala is a long musical narrative punctuated with explanations, rendered By a singer (gayaka) accompanied by a band of lour to five persons, one cymbals plays on a drum (mridanga) and the others playing musical instruments like cymbals. The pala singer describes episodes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana or other Puranic Texts. The musicians who accompany him join at appropriate moments in a chorus Or semblance of rudimentary dialogue. The tale is interspersed with loud music of drums and cymbals. The singer and his accompanists dance using very simple rythmic stepping as they sing.
The Pala singer begins by invoking the blessings of a deity, usually Sarala, the muse of poetry, and briefly states the theme of his song. As he continues his performance another singer asks him questions or requests him to elucidate a point. This the pala singer does with great elan: Generally, the pala songs are Taken from the rich repertoire of Oriya poetry and literature with appropriate references To relevant Sanskrit poetry. The pala singer not only sings out the narrative song. But has to be highly innovative to establish rapport with his audience. He is dressed In glittering robes and wears an ornate headgear. He holds a chamara (whisk) in his hand, which he wields with extreme flourish, now as a weapon, now as a fan, and now as a pen according to the needs of his song and waves it as a of divine blessing. Thus he has to combine drama, song and dance and as a narrator, detached from the main events of his dramatic song.
Pala resembles a jatra but is not as elaborate. For instance, the Pala does a full-fledged cast nor does it have scene-wise divisions. The Pala is end with lines, repeated again and again, propitiating a deity and giving romance an air of sanctity. The singer also uses prose now and then to lines of verse in order to make the narrative simpler. It is generally a show.
The Daskathia is also a very interesting folk art form in Odisha. It is performed usually by two men, the singer and his assistant and is simpler than a Pala. The Daskathia singer gives an exposition of a narrative poem of mythological or religious intent. The performance owes its name to Daskathia (a musical instrument which is made of two small pieces of thick wood). The singers hold these instruments in their left hand with the index finger in between the pieces of wood. With his should he plays upon tile two ends of this instrument to produce a rhythmic sound. Like the Pala Singer he begins with an introduction in which he seeks the blessings of a deity. The entire narrative is interspersed with lines dedicated to the deity. The Daslrathia performance is of a shorter duration than the Pala. There dressed simply and appear as ascetics.
Thus the Jatra. Pala and Daskarhia represent important aspects of Odisha folk culture form an integral part of the lives of the rural folk. Today television s these programmes, thus making the city people conversant with these folk art forms.
Gotipua is a fascinating folk dance of Puri Where boys below14 years clad in female dress dance to the tune at the music.The acrobatic poses attached to the dance enthralls the audience.This dance is becoming very popular.The Gotipua team of Raghurajpur has earned much reputation.
Naga and Medha dance
Here the dancer put a mask on his head and dance to the rhythm of the enchanting music.The medhas of Ravan,Trisira,Navasira etc and Naga dance one very popular in Puri town.during Rama Navami days this dance is enacted at the streets of Puri town for seven days.
Other Folk Dances
Other folk dances those are significant in Odisha are Ghoda Nacha, Bhalu Nacha , Mankada Nacha and Dhuduki