Rural folk
art & Handicraft

The Kelas are a nomadic class of people in Orissa. Except for a few months in the year they mostly remain out of their homes. Originally they are snake-charmers and bird-catchers who roam about the countryside to earn their livelihood. Besides, they also display tight-rope walking and other varieties of gymnastic events along with dance and songs. In the dance only two persons take part, a Kela and Keluni (a female of the tribe).

The Kela plays a peculiar string instrument Ghuduki which produces a peculiar sound. He works out rhythms by playing his fingers in strokes on a string. He dances with the Keluni and also sings. The dance of the Keluni is fast with swaying movements of legs, hips and the head. There are also exalted action in half-sitting position. Generally it is she who carries the show. The songs are of a special variety and are popularly known as Kela-Keluni Geeta in which love and humour predominate. This dance is fast dying out. But it is being adopted by professional Yatra troupes and other groups of entertainers.

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