A YouTube Video : Gambhira (documentary)- Folk Culture: Dance Drama of Malda, Its Evolution and Future Perspective :
The Gambhira dance is performed all over the Malda district of North Bengal during the festival of Chaitra Sankranti.
The masks used in this form of dance are made out of Neem and fig trees by the local Sutradhar community. Sometimes they also make masks of clay.
The three-dimensional crowns are the speciality of these masks. First, the facial features are carved out from a piece of wood and then coloured according to the character.
This mask-dance is performed with Gombhira song. The songs of Gambhira originated among the Hindu community of Maldah in West Bengal.
The folk dances of West Bengal hold a special place in Bengali culture. They complement the beautiful culture of the state, by their colorfulness and festivity.
Initially, the folk dances were either agricultural or devotional. Gradually, the agricultural dances gave place to dances more inclined towards devotion and religion.
One of the famous devotional dances of Bengal is Gambhira, the sacred devotional dance performed by worshippers of Shakti.
The dance is named so because it is performed in the dance hall of the Chandi Mandir – Gambhira, which has a specially constructed pavilion in front of the shrine, for the dance.
Gambhira dance is performed on the song of the same name. In this dance, there are two main dancers, who are accompanied by a chorus.
The two main dancers perform the role of Nana (maternal grandfather) and Nati (grandson), respectively. The dancer playing the character of Nati wears a string of bells around his ankles.
Through this dance, the two dancers indulge in dialogue and express their concerns about social, political, economic and moral problems of contemporary culture and society. The chorus behind them repeats the catchphrase of the song.
Gambhira dance is performed along with musical instruments, like harmonium, flute, drum and Judi.
A complete combination of all the art forms, like dialogue, dance, songs and music, it seems like documentary-dance form or a folk play.
When the chorus repeats the refrain, the two main dancers perform the dance. When they sing and perform, the chorus takes a backstage.
The mask wearing Gambhira dancers of Maldah are famous amongst this dance fraternity. Though this dance has now lost much of its popularity, it is still performed in Rajshahi.