In India, first references start appearing around tenth century or so in Jagannatha temple of Puri, which was originally a Buddhist temple, where Buddha's Tooth Relic was being worshipped. Here these dancing girls were called 'Maharis'. It is well known that 'Mahar' is a prominent untouchable caste of Maharashtra.

Pandurangam is a dance rendered by a man made-up or dressed as Bhairava, smeared all over his body by white ashes and dancing the terrible and violent dance at the burial grounds. It is said that it was performed by Siva with Brahma as his charioteer and the 4 Vedas as the horses and the devas looking at the dance with dismay. (Kanak Rele, in chapter "History of Kerala - Its Theatrical Arts and Mohiniattam" in "Mohiniattam: The Lyrical Dance").

An inscription of Ashokan times found in a cave at Ramagarh in Vindhya hills, as referred by J. Bloch, mentions a word "Sutanuka", which in later period was used to denote temple dancer. (Kapila Vatsyayan - Indian Classical Dance).

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