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A Web Directory of Classical Indian Dances

Gentle and hypnotic; a dream-like effect

Sattriya is a word derived from Sattra which means monastery. In the mid 15th century, Shankardev, a poet and religious leader united the various sects of Assam through his teachings and established a universal social brotherhood of Neo Vaishnavism through congregational prayer. This included music, dance and drama based on the life of Lord Krishna. The monks who lived in these Sattras performed these dance dramas as a votive offering to their Lord. Shankardev composed Bargeet, Ojha Pali songs and numerous dances which were incorporated into the dance drama called Ankiya Nat.

The framework and content of these Sattriya dances were well preserved in the monasteries which were spread all across Assam. With texts like Sri Hastamuktavali which describes detailed used of hand gestures, the style has all the elements of Indian classical dance including a margam of eight sequences which encompasses the tandava and lasya elements. This eloquent ritual tradition has now been passed on to interested artistes who are vigorously engaged in performing and popularizing Sattriya dance in India and elsewhere in the world.

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