Far-West’s very own Chaliya dance


The Chaliya dance, which used to be popular in all nine districts of the Far Western Nepal and also in Kumaun Gahrwal of India till few years ago, is now on the verge of extinction.

“In olden times, a person of strong holding in the village used to forcibly marry the girl of his choice. The Chaliya dance used to be performed in these marriages. But later on, this form of dance became popular among the people of this region,” local Chaliya dancer Mohan Ram said.

Carrying on with the age old custom, Chaliya dancers are usually called to perform during traditional marriages. These dances are a compulsory feature in traditional wedding ceremonies in the districts of far-West.

Most of the Chaliya dancers belong to the Dalit families of Bijul at Rudhidewal VDC-9, Baitadi. The Chaliya dance is performed by group of 16 dancers. Each Chaliya dance group is paid anything from Rs 10,000-20,000 to perform in the weddings.

Two dancers are main dancers and are centre of attraction. The Chaliya dancers perform wearing the traditional Jhakulo attire.

“In the Chaliya dance, six people are needed to play Panchai Baja. Rs 10,000 for group of 16 people isn’t much,” said another dancer Sobiram.

“As Chaliya dance is a typical characteristic of the far-West, we are training dancers of new generation so that this dance doesn’t disappear altogether with our generation,” he said.

Dancer Mohan Ram said their Chaliya dance group has performed in Pithauragadh, Almoda, Ranikhet and Lucknow and also in Mumbai.

However, these Chaliya dancers complained that their demand at wedding ceremonies had diminished significantly as most of the people now want modern bands to play at their weddings.