Gotipua, majestic folk dance of Odisha


Majestic folk dance of Odisha

See also: Sterling Resort Puri FAM

Their graceful steps and flawless acrobatics held everybody in rapt attention. The surprise and charm of the movements was heightened when the audience realised that the performers were actually young boys dressed up as females.

Tejasvni Ramesh, Rediscovering Gotipua, The Hindu

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Gotipua dance performance at the Sterling Resort, Puri

For centuries Gotipua dance have been performed in Odisha by young boys who are dressed up as girls to praise Lors Jagannath and Lord Krishna. It is a traditional dance form of Odisha and is considered as a precursor of classical dance of Odissi.

Raghurajpur Gotipua 3

Gotipua practice session at Raghurajpur

Long ago, the temples in Orissa had female dancers known as devadasis (or mahari), who were devoted to Jagannath, which gave rise to Mahari dance. With the Mughal invasion in the 16th century there was a decline in the devadasi practice.

Raghurajpur Gotipua 1

Gotipua practice, Raghurajpur

This lead to the formation of a new style of dance known as Gotipua, where the girls were replaced by boys. Also their technique, costumes and presentation differ from those of the mahari.

In Odiya language Gotipua means single boy (Goti = single and pua = boy), but the dance is performed by a group of boys.

The present day Oddisi Dance was influenced by the Gotipua and even the famous Oddisi maestro Kelucharan Mahapatra was a gotipua dancer in his youth.

Initially the singing of Gotipua dance was done by the dancer but now a group of singers along with a band of musicians accompany the dancers. The musical instruments mainly compromises of harmonium, traditional drum and flute.

Raghurajpur Gotipua 4

Gotipua practice, Raghurajpur

The dance form is not an easy one to master, as it requires rigorous training and regular practice.

The boys are recruited to learn the dance at a very young age, and undergo training until their adolescence, when their androgynous appearances begin to change.

Transforming the boys into girls is an art in itself. The boys do not cut their hair, which is tied up in a knot decorated with garlands of flower.

The face make up consists of white and red powder with a dash of kajal round the eyes. A red bindi is applied on the forehead and intricate patterns of sandlewood are made around it. Alta, a bright red paint, is applied on the edge of soles and palms.

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Gotipua dance performance at the Sterling Resort, Puri

The boys of the Gotipua dance troup are dressed in bright coloured saris with matching blouses. The dancers wear specially designed jewelry made with beads: necklaces, bracelets, armbands and ear ornaments. They add ankle bells to accentuate the beats tapped out by the feet.

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Gotipua dance performance at the Sterling Resort, Puri

Gotipua is an acrobatic dance and the skills requires years to master. Today the heritage village of Raghurajpur, which also happens to be the birth place of the famous Oddisi maestro Kelucharan Mahapatra, happens to be the major training centre of Gotipua (Also see: Raghurajpur Scroll Painting).

Raghurajpur, located just 15 km from Puri, is famous for its patachitra (scroll painting), but it also houses a training centre of Gotipua dance. Dasabhuja Gotipua Odissi Nritya Parisad in Raghurajpur trains young boys in Gotipua.

A visit to a the heritage village of Raghurajpur can be clubbed with a Gotipua dance performance. Sterling Resort Puri arranges a special package to Raghurajpur along with a traditional Odiya lunch (see: photo).


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Gotipua dancers prepare a pyramid at the Sterling Resort, Puri

Also Sterling Resort Puri can arrange for an Gotipua dance performance in their open air amphitheatre. It can also be clubbed with other dance forms of Odisha like Odissi and Sambalpuri.

Note: This FAM tour was hosted by the Sterling Holidays 

Special Thanks:

  1. Bharat Raja of Sterling Holidays and Sourav Sengupta of Sterling Resort Puri
  2. Roshan Gupta, Public Relation person
  3. My fellow FAM participants consisting of bloggers, vloggers and influencers
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