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Bagha Nacha – Tiger Dance In Odisha – Performed During Maa Budhi Thakurani Yatra

Bagha Nacha or tiger dance is performed during biennial Maa Budhi Thakurani Yatra festival (March - April) held at Berhampur in Odisha. Bagha Nacha of Berhampur is a traditional dance form and is noted for its unique costumes of the dancers, makeup, hairstyle, headdress, dance style and musical instruments.

Those devotees observing penance for desire fulfillment and to overcome health issues before the deity also dress up in tiger attires and dance all the way while participating in the procession. They perform the dance to appease the Goddess and get her blessings to overcome health problems and to achieve success, peace and prosperity.

Intense preparation and experience is required to become a performer in Bagha Nacha. It is also an expensive dance form for the not so wealthy participants. The dance necessitates four ‘Changus’, a kind of traditional musical instrument. People playing ‘Changu’ are required to warm up the instrument in fire every hour for which a vehicle laden with haystacks follows the performers during the procession.

Earlier petromax lights were being used to light up the procession but now big generators are in use mostly. The person who performs the dance dresses in a tiger costume paints his body, and head in varnish with stripes resembling a tiger, and puts on garlands of flowers.

The dance starts after the mask of the Goddess is worshipped at her temporary at Desi Behera Street shrine in Berhampur. They dance to the beats of musical instruments like ‘Changu’ and other instruments and visit the temporary shrine to pay obeisance to the deity.

The dance group roam the streets the whole night and visit the houses of their kin and relatives performing the dance.

Worship of Maa Budhi Thakurani is an integral part of Berhampur town. The deity was originally worshipped by the Dera people, members of weaver community from Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh. The community migrated to Berhampur and established the Thakurani temple, which is located near Bada Bazar in Berhampur, popularly known as Silk City. During the festival, the Goddess leaves the temple and stays at a temporary shrine at Desi Behera Street like a daughter returning to her parental house after marriage.