“Ankiya Naat,” is a traditional form of dance-drama from the Indian state of Assam.
It is one of the famous folk dances of Assam.
Ankiya Naat is closely associated with the Bhakti movement in Assam and is primarily performed as a religious and cultural expression.
Here’s some information about it
Ankiya Naat was created by the 15th-century Assamese saint and cultural icon, Srimanta Sankardeva. He used this art form as a means to propagate the Bhakti (devotional) movement and spread the teachings of Lord Krishna.
Ankiya Naat is usually performed in Sattras (Vaishnavite monasteries) and during religious festivals in Assam. The performance involves a blend of dance, drama, and music. It features mythological stories, particularly those related to Lord Krishna, and conveys moral and spiritual messages.
Traditional Assamese musical instruments like the khol (drum), taal (cymbals), flute, and violin are commonly used in Ankiya Naat performances. These instruments create a melodious and rhythmic accompaniment to the dance-drama.
Ankiya Naat, a traditional dance-drama form from the Indian state of Assam, incorporates a range of musical instruments to accompany the performances. These instruments add depth and rhythm to the storytelling and dance sequences. Here are some of the musical instruments commonly used in Ankiya Naat:
The khol is a traditional barrel-shaped drum used in Assamese classical music and dance forms, including Ankiya Naat. It is made from terracotta or wood and has two heads. One head is larger and is played with the hand while the other is smaller and played with a stick. The khol provides the rhythmic foundation for the performance.
Taal refers to cymbals and is an essential percussion instrument in Ankiya Naat. These cymbals are clashed together in a coordinated manner to create distinct rhythms that complement the music and dance.
The flute is often used in Ankiya Naat performances to provide melodic elements. It is played to produce soulful tunes that enhance the emotional impact of the storytelling and convey the moods of the characters.
The violin, while not a traditional Assamese instrument, has been incorporated into Ankiyankiya naat dance
Performers wear colorful and elaborate costumes that are characteristic of Assamese culture. These costumes often include traditional jewelry and makeup.
The costumes worn in Ankiya Naat performances are intricate and colorful, reflecting the cultural and traditional aesthetics of Assam. These costumes play a vital role in enhancing the visual appeal of the dance-drama and bringing the characters to life. Here are some key elements of the costumes in Ankiya Naat:
Mekhela Sador for Female Characters
Female characters in Ankiya Naat typically wear the traditional Assamese attire known as the “mekhela sador.”
The mekhela is a two-piece garment consisting of a skirt-like lower piece (mekhela) and an upper piece (sador) that is draped elegantly over the upper body.
These garments are often made from vibrant and colorful silk fabrics, with intricate patterns and motifs.
Dhoti and Kurta for Male Characters
Male characters typically wear dhotis and kurtas, which are also made from rich silk fabrics.
The dhoti is a traditional unstitched garment wrapped around the waist and legs.
The kurta is a long-sleeved shirt that complements the dhoti.
The colors and designs of these garments may vary depending on the character’s role and social status within the performance.
Traditional Assamese Jewelry
Both male and female performers often adorn themselves with traditional Assamese jewelry.
Female characters may wear necklaces, earrings, and bangles, while male characters may wear traditional necklaces and bracelets.
The jewelry is typically made from gold or silver and can be quite ornate.
Headgear and Accessories
Characters may wear traditional headgear, such as turbans or crowns, depending on their roles and social status.
Accessories like belts and sashes are also used to enhance the overall appearance of the characters.
Makeup and Body Paint
Performers may use makeup and body paint to enhance their facial features and depict specific character traits.
The makeup may include bold and expressive eye makeup, as well as traditional facial markings.
Performers wear traditional footwear, such as mojris (embroidered shoes) for male characters and elegant sandals for female characters.
The colors in Ankiya Naat costumes can carry symbolic meaning. For example, red and yellow are often associated with auspiciousness and devotion, while darker colors may represent negative characters.
The costumes in Ankiya Naat are not only visually appealing but also help convey the cultural and social context of the characters within the performance. They add to the overall grandeur and beauty of this traditional Assamese art form.
The main characters in Ankiya Naat are often portrayed by male actors, even in female roles. The performances can be quite elaborate and involve intricate dance sequences and dialogues.
Ankiya Naat typically revolves around themes of devotion, righteousness, and the triumph of good over evil. Stories from Hindu mythology, especially those from the life of Lord Krishna, are commonly depicted.
Efforts have been made to preserve and promote the tradition of Ankiya Naat, as it plays a significant role in Assamese culture and religious life. Cultural institutions and government initiatives support its preservation.
Ankiya Naat is a beautiful and culturally rich art form that continues to be cherished in Assam. It serves as a means of both entertainment and spiritual expression, allowing audiences to connect with the cultural and religious heritage of the region.
History of ankiya naat
Ankiya Naat is a traditional form of dance-drama that has a rich history in the Indian state of Assam. Its history is closely intertwined with the life and work of the 15th-century saint and cultural icon, Srimanta Sankardeva. Here is an overview of the history of Ankiya Naat:
Life of Srimanta Sankardeva (1449-1568)
Srimanta Sankardeva, often referred to as Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankardeva, was a multifaceted scholar, saint, poet, playwright, and cultural reformer in Assam. He was born in the village of Bordowa in present-day Assam, India, and his teachings and contributions have had a profound and lasting impact on Assamese culture.
Creation of Ankiya Naat (Bhaona)
Srimanta Sankardeva was deeply devoted to Lord Krishna and aimed to spread the message of devotion and love for God. To achieve this, he created Ankiya Naat, also known as Bhaona. Bhaona means “a big drama,” and Ankiya Naat refers to “one-act play.” Sankardeva used this art form to convey religious and moral messages in a language and style that the common people of Assam could understand and relate to.
Composition of Plays
Srimanta Sankardeva composed a series of one-act plays, or Ankiya Naats, based on episodes from Hindu mythology, particularly those related to Lord Krishna. These plays included “Ram Bijoy,” “Kaliya Daman,” “Rukmini Haran,” and “Parijat Haran,” among others.
The blend of Dance, Music, and Drama
Ankiya combines elements of dance, music, and drama to create a captivating and spiritually enriching experience for the audience. It features colorful costumes, traditional musical instruments like the khol and taal, and expressive dance movements.
Promotion of the Bhakti Movement
Through Ankiya, Sankardeva promoted the Bhakti (devotional) movement in Assam, emphasizing the importance of devotion to God as the path to salvation. His teachings and the performances of Ankiya Naat played a significant role in religious and cultural reform in the region.
Srimanta Sankardeva’s contributions to Assamese culture, including Ankiya, have left an indelible mark. His works continue to be celebrated and performed in Assam to this day, during religious festivals and cultural events.
Preservation and Recognition
Ankiya Naat has been recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO, highlighting its significance in the preservation of cultural traditions.
In summary, Ankiya has a long and culturally significant history, with its roots firmly planted in the life and teachings of Srimanta Sankardeva. It serves as a unique and cherished form of cultural expression and religious devotion in Assam, India.