Ojapali dance is a traditional folk dance of Assam.

And that originated in the Indian state of Assam, particularly in the lower Assam region.

It is a vibrant and energetic dance that is often performed during religious and cultural festivals, especially during the Raas Leela festival associated with Lord Krishna.

Here are some key characteristics and features of the Ojapali dance

Narrative Dance

 Ojapali is a narrative dance form that tells stories from Hindu mythology and epics. It typically depicts the life and exploits of Lord Krishna, especially his childhood stories and Ras Leela with the Gopis.



Group Performance

 Ojapali is usually by a group of male dancers.

They dance in a circle or semi-circle formation and often sing while dancing.

However, singing is an integral part of the performance, as it helps convey the narrative and emotions of the story.

Gestures and Expressions

 The dancers also use intricate hand gestures and facial expressions to convey emotions and depict various characters from the stories. The movements are often energetic and synchronized, adding to the visual appeal of the dance.

Devotional Aspect

Ojapali is not just a form of entertainment; it also has a strong devotional aspect.

The stories of Lord Krishna and his divine love are central to the dance, and performers often immerse themselves in the spiritual aspects of the performance.

Cultural Significance

 Ojapali plays a vital role in preserving and promoting Assamese culture and traditions. It is an essential part of cultural festivals and religious events in Assam and helps pass down the region’s rich heritage to future generations.

Ojapali is also a captivating and culturally significant dance form that showcases the artistic and religious traditions of Assam.


Types of Ojapali dance

Ojapali dance is a traditional folk dance form from the Indian state of Assam. While there may not be distinct “types” of Ojapali dance in the same way that there are different forms of classical dance, there are variations and themes within Ojapali performances based on the stories and characters they depict. Here are some common themes or variations of Ojapali dance:

Krishna Leela Ojapali

 This is one of the most common and popular forms of Ojapali. It focuses on the life and exploits of Lord Krishna, especially his childhood stories, Ras Leela (divine dance with the Gopis), and other significant events from his life.

Rama Leela Ojapali

 Some Ojapali performances are dedicated to the stories of Lord Rama, as described in the Indian epic, the Ramayana. These dances depict the life, adventures, and moral lessons associated with Lord Rama.

Sati-Krishna Ojapali

 This variation combines elements of the Krishna Leela with the story of Sati, an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Parvati. It explores the divine love between Sati and Krishna and the various obstacles they face.

Ram-Krishna Ojapali

 In this form, Ojapali performances incorporate stories from both the lives of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. This fusion allows for a broader range of narratives and characters to be included.

Durga Ojapali

 This variation of Ojapali focuses on the goddess Durga, her battles against demons, and her manifestations as different forms of Devi. It is often performed during the Durga Puja festival.

Krishna Gopijan Ojapali

 This type of Ojapali highlights the Ras Leela of Lord Krishna with the Gopis (cowherd girls) and explores themes of divine love and devotion.

Radha-Krishna Ojapali

 Radha-Krishna Ojapali focuses on the divine love and relationship between Lord Krishna and Radha, his beloved consort. It delves into the emotional and romantic aspects of their story.

Pandava-Kaurava Ojapali

 Some Ojapali performances depict episodes from the Mahabharata, particularly the stories of the Pandavas and Kauravas. These dances might showcase events like the Draupadi Cheer Haran (disrobing of Draupadi) or the Kurukshetra War.

Puranic Ojapali

 In addition to the stories of specific deities, Ojapali can also depict episodes from various Hindu puranas (ancient texts). These performances can encompass a wide range of narratives and characters.

While these are some common themes and variations of Ojapali dance, it’s important to note that the specific stories and episodes performed may vary depending on the troupe, region, and occasion. Ojapali continues to evolve and adapt to different contexts while preserving its traditional roots and cultural significance.

famous dancers of Ojapali

Ojapali dance, while not as widely recognized as some other Indian dance forms like Bharatanatyam or Kathak, has gained popularity within the northeastern region of India, particularly Assam. Within the realm of Ojapali, there are many talented and renowned dance troupes and performers who have contributed to the art form’s popularity. However, it’s important to note that Ojapali may not have achieved the same level of international recognition as other classical Indian dance forms.

Here are a few well-known Ojapali dance troupes and performers:

Sampriti Ojapali Dance Troupe

 Sampriti is one of the prominent Ojapali dance troupes in Assam known for their captivating performances. They have played a crucial role in popularizing Ojapali within the state.

Prachin Kamalabari Sattra Ojapali Dance Troupe

Kamalabari Sattra is a traditional Vaishnavite monastery in Majuli, Assam, and their Ojapali dance troupe is known for preserving and performing this art form as a part of their religious and cultural traditions.

Bhaskar Jyoti Ojapali Group

Bhaskar Jyoti and his Ojapali group have performed extensively, both within Assam and in other parts of India. They are known for their dynamic and expressive Ojapali performances.

Ankurjyoti Ojapali Group

 Another notable Ojapali group, Ankurjyoti, has contributed to the promotion of this folk dance form in Assam and beyond.

Individual Performers

 Some individual Ojapali performers have gained recognition for their skills and contributions to the art form. These performers often participate in cultural festivals and events.

While these are some examples of famous Ojapali dance troupes and performers, it’s essential to understand that Ojapali remains primarily a regional and cultural form of dance. Its popularity and recognition are strongest within Assam and the northeastern states of India. However, efforts are ongoing to promote and preserve this rich cultural heritage, and it continues to be an integral part of Assamese culture and tradition.

Origin of Ojapali dance

The origin of the Ojapali dance can be traced back to the state of Assam in northeastern India. Ojapali is a traditional folk dance form deeply rooted in the cultural and religious practices of Assam. It has evolved over centuries and is closely associated with the Vaishnavite tradition, which emphasizes devotion to Lord Krishna.

Here are some key points about the origin of the Ojapali dance:

Vaishnavism in Assam

 The roots of Ojapali can be traced to the spread of the Vaishnavite Bhakti movement in Assam, which began in the 15th century with the teachings of the saint-scholar Srimanta Sankardeva and his disciple Madhavdeva. This religious movement had a profound influence on Assamese culture and arts, including dance.

Incorporation of Dance

 The Vaishnavite saints, including Sankardeva and Madhavdeva, used various forms of performing arts, including dance, as a means of spreading their religious teachings and stories from Hindu epics. Dance was considered a powerful medium for conveying the devotion and love for Lord Krishna.

Blend of Regional Elements

 Ojapali evolved as a blend of regional dance and storytelling traditions, incorporating elements of folk dance, music, and theater. Over time, it became a distinct dance form with its unique characteristics and repertoire.

Religious Themes

 Ojapali primarily focuses on religious themes, particularly stories from the life of Lord Krishna. These stories, often depicting Krishna’s childhood and Ras Leela with the Gopis, are central to Ojapali performances.

Community Participation

 Ojapali was traditionally performed by local communities and religious institutions, such as Satras (monasteries) in Assam. It was a communal and devotional practice, performed during religious festivals and cultural events.

Preservation and Revival

 In modern times, efforts have been made to preserve and promote Ojapali as part of Assam’s cultural heritage. Various Ojapali dance troupes and cultural organizations continue to perform and teach this traditional dance form to new generations.

Overall, Ojapali dance has a rich history deeply intertwined with the cultural and religious traditions of Assam. It represents the fusion of spirituality, storytelling, and performance, making it a significant and unique art form within the broader context of Indian dance traditions.

History of Ojapali dance

The history of Ojapali dance is deeply rooted in the cultural and religious traditions of Assam, a state in northeastern India. Ojapali is a traditional folk dance form that has evolved over centuries and has been closely associated with the Vaishnavite tradition, particularly the Neo-Vaishnavism propagated by Srimanta Sankardeva and his disciples.

Here is an overview of the history of Ojapali dance:

Vaishnavism in Assam (15th Century)

 The origins of Ojapali can be traced back to the spread of the Vaishnavite Bhakti movement in Assam during the 15th century. Srimanta Sankardeva, a saint-scholar, and cultural icon, played a pivotal role in the propagation of this religious and philosophical movement. He emphasized devotion (bhakti) to Lord Krishna as the path to salvation.

Role of Srimanta Sankardeva

 Sankardeva is credited with incorporating various forms of performing arts, including dance, into the religious and cultural practices of Assam. He composed numerous devotional songs, known as Borgeets, and introduced Bhaona, a form of religious theater that included dance sequences to convey stories from Hindu epics.

Evolution of Ojapali

 Ojapali emerged as a distinct dance form within the broader framework of Assamese culture and the Vaishnavite tradition. It incorporated elements of folk dance, music, and storytelling. The term “Ojapali” itself is derived from the Assamese words “Oja” (meaning guru or teacher) and “Pali” (meaning performance or recitation), reflecting its religious and instructional nature.

Religious Significance

 Ojapali was used as a means to disseminate the teachings of Vaishnavism and stories from the life of Lord Krishna. It became an important vehicle for conveying devotion and spiritual messages to the masses.

Community Participation

 Ojapali was traditionally performed by local communities, devotees, and religious institutions, particularly the Satras (monasteries) established by Sankardeva and his disciples. It was an integral part of religious festivals and cultural events.

Cultural Heritage

 Over the centuries, Ojapali continued to evolve, adapting to changing social and cultural contexts while retaining its core religious and folk elements. It became an important aspect of Assamese cultural heritage.

Contemporary Revival

 In modern times, various Ojapali dance troupes, cultural organizations, and institutions have played a significant role in preserving, promoting, and reviving Ojapali as part of Assam’s cultural heritage. Performers have worked to maintain the authenticity and traditions of this folk dance form.

Today, Ojapali dance continues to be an important cultural and religious expression in Assam. It represents the fusion of spirituality, storytelling, and performance, and it plays a vital role in conveying the rich traditions and teachings of Neo-Vaishnavism in the region.

Musical Instruments of Ojapali

Ojapali, a traditional folk dance form of Assam, is accompanied by a variety of musical instruments that provide the rhythmic and melodic backdrop to the performance. These instruments are essential to creating the lively and vibrant atmosphere characteristic of Ojapali. Here are some of the common musical instruments used in Ojapali:


The dhol is a cylindrical double-headed drum made of wood and animal skin. It is one of the primary percussion instruments used in Ojapali. The drummer plays the dhol to provide the rhythmic foundation for the dance, and the beats of the dhol often guide the dancers’ movements.


Taal refers to cymbals or hand-held metal plates that are clashed together to produce a ringing sound. In Ojapali, taal players accompany the dhol, creating a syncopated rhythm that adds to the dynamic nature of the performance.


 The pepa is a traditional buffalo hornpipe instrument. It has a unique shape and is used to produce a distinct melody that complements the rhythm of the dhol and taal. The pepa player often plays traditional tunes and melodies associated with Ojapali.


 The xutuli is a type of bamboo flute used in Assamese folk music, including Ojapali. It provides melodic accompaniment to the dance and adds a serene and melodious quality to the overall performance.


The baahi is a traditional indigenous percussion instrument made from bamboo. It consists of a series of bamboo tubes of varying lengths, and when struck, they produce different notes. Baahi players use it to create a unique tonal texture in Ojapali music.


The gogona is a traditional jew’s harp or mouth harp made from bamboo or metal. It is played by vibrating a metal reed with the mouth, creating a distinctive twanging sound. The gogona player adds a rhythmic and percussive element to the music.


 The khol is a barrel-shaped drum that is sometimes used in Ojapali performances, particularly in certain regional variations. It is played with sticks and contributes to the overall percussion ensemble.

Other Percussion Instruments

Depending on the specific Ojapali troupe and regional variations, other percussion instruments like mridanga (a barrel-shaped drum), kanshi (small cymbals), and various hand drums may also be incorporated into the musical ensemble.

The combination of these musical instruments creates a vibrant and dynamic musical landscape that complements the energetic and narrative aspects of Ojapali dance. These instruments are not only essential for providing rhythm and melody but also for enhancing the overall cultural and traditional experience of the performance.

Costume of Ojapali

The traditional costume worn by Ojapali dancers in Assam is colorful and reflective of the region’s cultural heritage. The attire is an integral part of the performance, enhancing the visual appeal and helping convey the narrative elements of the dance. Here’s a description of the typical costume worn by Ojapali dancers:

Dhoti (Lungi)

The dhoti or lungi is the lower garment worn by male Ojapali dancers. It is a rectangular piece of cloth that is wrapped around the waist and tied securely. The dhoti is often brightly colored and may have traditional Assamese designs or motifs.


 The kurta is the upper garment worn by male dancers. It is a long, loose-fitting tunic that typically extends below the waist. The kurta is also adorned with vibrant colors and patterns, adding to the overall visual appeal.


 The gamocha is a traditional Assamese towel or scarf that is draped over the shoulder or tied around the waist. It is an essential accessory in Assamese attire and is often used to symbolize respect and hospitality.


 Male Ojapali dancers often wear a traditional Assamese headgear known as “japi.” The japi is a conical hat made from bamboo and straw, and it is intricately decorated with colorful threads and designs. The japi is an iconic symbol of Assamese culture and adds a distinctive element to the costume.


 Ojapali dancers may wear traditional Assamese jewelry to complement their attire. This can include necklaces, bracelets, and earrings made from materials like gold, silver, or beads.


 A waist belt, often made of cloth or fabric and embellished with decorative elements, is worn to secure the dhoti and add to the overall look of the costume.


 Dancers typically wear comfortable and simple footwear like sandals or mojaris (traditional Indian shoes) to allow for ease of movement during the performance.

It’s important to note that the specific details and designs of Ojapali costumes can vary among different troupes and regions within Assam. However, the use of vibrant colors, traditional Assamese textiles, and iconic accessories like the japi and gamocha are common elements that help define the Ojapali costume. These costumes not only serve practical purposes but also contribute to the cultural and artistic richness of the dance form, making Ojapali a visually captivating and culturally significant performance.

You might also enjoy:

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *