Pala: One of the oldest traditional and unique dances of Odisha
Pala, it is the combination of folk dance and folk songs which are mainly based on Old Odia literature and culture of Odisha. People believe that 'Pala' was developed earlier than 1700 B.C. This dance represents the social harmony in Hindu and Muslims. In this dance people worship the God "Satyapeer". 'Satya' represents the Hindu God 'Satyanarayana' while 'Peer' represents the Muslim God 'Peer', in this way Pala dance represents unity of both community. Remember this unique dance we can't able to find anywhere in the world expect Odisha.
Pala: Different members of a Pala Group
Pala group consist of 5 to 7 members. The leader of the group, who is dressed in very differently and wearing many ornaments, very big ear rings and necklaces is called "Mukhia or Mukhya Gayak". He always sings the song by waving the 'Chamar'(whisk) and a pen or small stick. 'Sri Palia' the main person who repeats the stanzas of Mukhya Gayak. He works as a main supporter of the leader of the Pala Group. The person who plays the 'Mrudanga'(One type of drum which is played without using sticks, only by using fingers) is called 'Bayak'. Remain members of the group are called 'Palia' means 'chorus' because they repeat the songs and different stanzas with the Mukhya Gayak and Sri Palia. In a Pala group, Mukhya Gayak won't play any musical instrument, Bayak plays a Murdangam and all others play 'Jhanja'(Cymbals). The whole team dances on different rhythmic steps as per their songs. The Mukhya Gayak sings songs and explains their meaning which is mainly related to Ramayan or Mahabharat.
Pala: Different types of Pala
Basically, Pala divided into two categories. The Baithaki Pala, which is performed in sitting posture and has less popularity in Odisha. While the second type of Pala, the Thia Pala is more popular than that of the Baithaki Pala. This type of pala performed in standing posture only.
Pala: The combination of Knowledge and Entertainment
At the starting of Pala, all members expect the Mukhya Gayak, enter on the stage and plays very loud music by beating drum and cymbals. After few minutes the Mukhya Gayak moves to the stage. They all together perform 'Puja' (Prayer) to the God Satyapeer. Then, they slowly enter into the main topic of the show, which is mainly extracted from Hindu mythologies such as Ramayan, Mahabharat or any others. In the show the Mukhya Galyak plays the leading role and sings songs and explains their meaning by very simple manner, by which all the audiences can able to understand them easily. They sing highly innovative songs which is full of knowledge and moral values. The members not only sing and support the Mukhya Gayak but also explain different topics with acting. Their program not only related to mythology but also they perform some good quality jokes and comedy shows in the program.
This dance totally related to Odisha culture and traditions. In old days people organize this functions in marriages, birthday functions and other festivals in their locality.
Pala: Its stability in the modern society
The situation is changed and people put more interest in movies and cinema songs. They forget this pure knowledgeable program. As people slowly decrease their interest in this dance form, it is created a very difficult time for the Pala groups. They won't get sufficient programs to perform and earn to fulfill their basic needs. In this way slowly people diverted their attention from this. In this way Pala is in its last stage. Both people and artists move away their face from it. I don't think after ten to fifteen years, there will be any Pala team or not! I think we must try to save this traditional dance and our culture.
Pala: The leading Mukhya Gayaks of Pala DanceThere are few names artists who were created a special image in this dance form in all over Odisha.