• Sattriya dances are devotional in nature as they were intended for propagation of neo-Vaishnavism. Its highlights are intense emotional fervour, and in its solo avatar now dramatic abhinaya is prominent in contrast to nritta, pure dance.
  • It was introduced in Assam by the great Vaishnava saint and reformer of Assam, Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankaradeva in the 15th century A.D.
  • He propagated the “ek sharan naama dharma” (chanting the name of one God devotedly).
  • History and evolution
  • Unlike other classical dances, the Sattriya dance has been left untouched in this regard and has been the same since its birth.
  • Under the patronage of Sankardeva, the social and religious group known as the ‘Sattras’ (Vaishnava mathsor monasteries) formulated this dance to celebrate their beliefs which were embedded in Hinduism and its various teachings.
  • It had its influences from folk dance forms like Ojapali, Devadasi, Bihu and Bodos etc.
Dancers dancing with drums and cymbals
Sattriya Dance (Dashavatar)

Salient features of the dance form

  • Sattriya dance tradition is governed by strictly laid down principles in respect of hastamudrasfootworksaharyas, music etc.,
  • It includes Nritta, Nritya and Natya components.
  • The Sattriya dance form can be placed under 2 categories; Paurashik Bhangi, which is the masculine style and ‘Stri Bhangi’, which is the feminine style.
  • Sattriya dance is usually based primarily on the stories of Krishna-Radha relations, or sometimes on the stories of Ram-Sita.
  • Sattriya Nrityais a genre of dance drama that tells mythical and religious stories through hand and face expressions. The basic dance unit and exercise of a Sattriya is called a Mati Akhara, equal 64 just like in Natya Shastra, are the foundational sets dancers learn during their training.
  • The Akharas are subdivided into Ora, Saata, Jhalak, Sitika, Pak, Jap, Lon and Khar. A performance integrates two styles, one masculine (Paurashik Bhangi, energetic and with jumps), and feminine (Stri Bhangi, Lasya or delicate)
  • Traditionally, Sattriyawas performed only by bhokots (male monks) in monasteries as a part of their daily rituals or to mark special festivals on mythological themes. Today, in addition to this practice, Sattriya is also performed on stage by men and women who are not members of the sattras, on themes not merely mythological.
  • It has two distinctly separate streams – the Bhaona-related repertoire starting from the Gayan-Bhayanar Nach to the Kharmanar Nach, secondly the dance numbers which are independent, such as Chali, Rajagharia Chali, Jhumura, Nadu Bhangi etc. Among them the Chali is characterized by gracefulness and elegance, while the Jhumura is marked by vigor and majestic beauty.


  • The costume of Sattriya dance is primarily of two types: the male costume comprising the dhoti and chadar and the paguri ( turban) and the female costume comprising the ghuri, chadar and kanchi (waist cloth).
  • Pat Silk saree (also spelled paat) is the most popular kind of saree used in this dance, which represents the locality through its various colorful motifs and designs.
  • Traditional Assamese jewellery is used in Sattriya dance. The jewelleries are made in a unique technique in Kesa Sun ( raw gold). Artists wear Kopali on the forehead, MuthiKharu and Gam Kharu (bracelets) etc.,
SAttriya Dance -male costume
  • Instruments
  • There are various musical instruments used in this dance, some of which include Khol (drum), Bahi (flute), Violin, Tanpura, Harmonium and Shankha (Conch Shell). The songs are composition of shankaradeva known as ‘Borgeets’
  • The musical instruments used in Sattriya are the Khols or the Drums, the Taals or the Cymbals and the Flute. Non traditional music instruments like Mridangam and Pakhwaj were a part of the music of Rojaghoria Chali Dance. In present time, violin is also commonly used in the music of Sattriya Dance.


  • Exponent’s
  • Some of the leading male artists include Guru Jatin Goswami, Guru Ghanakanta Bora, Manik Barbayan and Bhabananda Barbayan, Late Moniram Dutta, Muktiyar Barbayan, Late Roseshwar Saikia Barbayan, Late Dr. Maheswar Neog Dr Bhupen Hazarika, Late Ananda Mohan Bhagawati while the prominent women dancers include Sharodi Saikia, Indira PP Bora, Anita Sharma, Anwesha Mahanta and Mallika Kandali, among others.


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