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Kherai

 Kherai-Dance

 men playing the khum (drum), two men playing thesifung (flute) and two men playing jotha (cymbals).

The dancers, with their hair free, wear long woven dresses, often red in colour, black girdles, and a yellow or red gamocha around their waists. Historically, at the time of dancing the main dancer was naked above the waist other than her jewellery of nose rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, used to carry a small drum as a talisman, had a vermillion mark on her forehead and her hair dressed in a heart-shaped plait.

Three stages mark the puja the main dancer performs. Firstly, with the help of theOja (priest) who is responsible for ensuring that all the sanctities and rituals are performed correctly, she falls into a trance and he consecrates her before the altar of the Bathow. She then begins to dance with the intention of appeasing and seeking favour from nineteen gods and goddesses beginning with Bathow (Lord Siva) and ending with Lakshmi. At one stage she dances a fierce war-dance at which time she takes up a sword and a shield. Her movements reflect the different deities to which her dance is dedicated and the beat of the accompanying instruments also changes accordingly. The third stage is at the end of the dance when she predicts fortunes and answers questions addressed to her by the attending villagers

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