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The Daskathia dance of the Eastern state of Orissa or Odisha in India is more of a storytelling performing art with musical and dance elements. It is a popular form of entertainment in the rural areas of Odisha since priority is given to the cultural traditions in most of the villages of India in general. The origin of this folk art is often cited as the Ganjam district of Odisha.

The name Daskathia comes from the words ‘Das’ and ‘Kathia’ form the Oriya languages that mean ‘Devotee’ and ‘Sticks’ respectively. These performances involve the poetic recitals of religious anecdotes from the Vedas and other mythical legends about many deities. The poetry used here is composed by contemporary poets from the Daskathia tradition and are sung to the audience by a troupe of two men. One is the lead singer called the ‘Gayak’ while the other is his assistant often called the ‘Palia’. The Palia often plays the role of an ignorant or unenlightened person to whom the Gayak gives pious discourses. The Daskathia art form also serves as a platform for entertainment in the form of humorous interludes. The attire of both the performers is exquisite both in material and design that portrays the contrasting characters of the duo.

Dance Form

The dancing involved in the Daskathia is of light nature at best. The moves and nuances of movement of the artiste are not refined as it is folk art and is rather accentuated by quirky and dramatic instances. The dance chiefly involves dramatic acting of the Gayak and the Palia that help the audience visualize the historical and mythical scenes described in the poetry. The humorous interludes in the singing is also translated in the acting as it helps to capture and hold the attention of the audiences as the duration of the play is quite long.

Musical Instruments

The only musical instruments used in the Daskathia performances are the ‘Kathia’. The kathia are a pair of small sticks that are held by the performers in between their fingers, usually between the spaces between the thumb, index and the middle fingers. When struck from above, the momentary clashing of the sticks create a sharp clap that sets the meter for the singing.


The Daskathia has an important place in the everyday lives of the rural population of Odisha, especially the poorer working classes. Its wide spread usage makes it an ideal medium for the enlightenment of the uneducated masses with respect to the various social issues.


Daskathia is a rough variation of the Pala art form that is similar but with a highly developed system which may be almost classical.

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