A Gadabba Tribal Dance in Orissa, India


Deepak stopped the car on the way to the Bonda Market where Bibhu jumped out to converse with elders of the Gadabba tribe. These men are in charge of arranging traditional Gadabba dances for the tourists and Bibhu had asked us yesterday if we were willing to pay $15 a couple to see a dance. Agreed and two French tourists staying at Hotel Hello Jeypore also joined us from another tour agency.

The Gadabba tribe is of Austro origin “…family of languages of southeast Asia… dominant in northeast India and Indochina…” and we had seen only two, elderly Gadabba women in the Bonda Market with the traditional two very thick silver neck rings which are not removed until they die. The women wear a long strip of cloth tied around the waist and a second piece of cloth worn across the breasts and tied over one shoulder. …View image… They also wear a number of ornaments including necklaces, earrings, nose rings, and large silver hoops in their hair.

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Gadabba woman from the Bonda market in Onukudelli, India
 

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the shady Gadabba dance spot, India

Gadabba men traditionally wear loin clothes but everyone in the Bonda market was dressed western-style. Down the dirt road to an open, shady area under the trees where Gadabba villagers were gathering to put on the dance.

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Gadabba drummers beating out the rhythm, Orissa, India

The women were getting dressed…View image, two drummers and an eerie “snake charming” flute tuned up, children gathered to watch…View image, and the Gadabba chief shouted orders right and left. (Couldn’t understand what he was saying, but orders are orders in any language.) A few more shouted instructions and they were off. One older woman leading…View image, and another at the end of the line, circling in unison…View image. Holding hands, weaving in and out, singing, ankle bracelets with bells jingling in time to the music…View image… while their dancing feet churned up dust flying everywhere.


The French couple videotaped the entire 30-minute dance but, for me, a little tribal dance goes a long way. However, it was an “experience” and my favorite part was the still handsome, tall and stately grandfather who tenderly looked after his baby granddaughter…View image… while the mother danced…

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Gadabba grandfather and granddaughter, India
 

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