Ghatu (Gurung) Dance

Ghatu (Gurung) Dance

The Gurung have very interesting dance tradition. They perform Ghatu, Sorathi, and others on many occasions. The Ghatu generally starts on Shri Panchami day. Traditional dress of the Gurungs includes a short blouse tied across the front and a short skirt of several yards of white cotton material wrapped around the waist and held like a wide belt.

I was treated to a special dance [ghado] in Pasgaun. The girls danced very slowly and hypnotically. I had been sitting on the wool blanket, but got up to take the picture.

In People of Nepal, 3rd edition, Dor Bahadur Bista observes:

“The Gurungs have a very interesting dance tradition. They used to have two types of dance, sorathi and ghado. But in Kaski and Lamjung [where Pasgaun is located] the sorathi is dying out. There is a season for dancing, starting on Shripanchami day in January and lasting through February, March, and April until the day of chandi-purnima. During this period they can dance at any time they like, but they usually do so on the days when they abstain from their agricultural work. They abstain from work on festival days, new moon and full moon days, the day following the first hailstorm of Spring, and whenever somebody in the village dies. The dance is performed by two unmarried girls. Before the actual performance starts, the floor is cleaned with cowdung and earth and the performers sit with their eyes closed and mouths shut. Then they are said to become possessed by ancestor-spirits, and the dance begins.

“On the first day of the dance season the guardian-teacher of the dancing girls invokes several other gods. These gods are supposed to stay with them until he sends them back at the end of the season, which is the full moon day of April. In addition to the guardian-teacher there is a woman director who teaches the girls the movements of the dance. The girls are recruited into the dancing group at the age of nine, ten, or eleven, and remain until they are eighteen or nineteen, when they get married. They must remain in the group for an odd number of years and should never leave when they have been in it for an even number. Most girls remain in it for five or seven years.”

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