M.D. Muthukumaraswamy

M.D.Muthukumaraswamy is a Tamil writer, Director of National Folklore Support Centre, Chennai, and a Consultant at Sahapedia.


The  Chaitra Parva festival is an important religious expression for Seraikela Chhau, the masked dance form of Jharkhand. This festival is an annual celebration that encapsulates the journey of the soul from creation to contemporary times through the yugas (eras). As the dances are performed in the month of Chaitra in the Odia calendar, the festival is also known by the name Chal-it Parab meaning the spring festival. According to mythology Lord Shiva is in Yoga Nidra (in deep yogic sleep) and Shakti, his wife wakes him up from his passive state. When Shiva wakes up he begins to dance and the Universe and Time come into existence. Wearing a mask as the shadow of the dancing god, the Seraikela Chhau dancers depict the passage of the soul through the ages in their dances. With the four days of the festival symbolically representing Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali Yuga respectively, the dances depict enactments and episodes of creation, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and contemporary themes corresponding to each of the Yugas. The Chaitra Parva festival in Seraikela town comprises of rituals, dances, and processions and this field photo essay presents the connections between them with the brief introductions to the state of Jharkhand and the town of Seraikela.