The Sattriya dance form has its origin in the ‘Sattras’. Srimanta Sankardev was the bone who established it in the 15th and the 16th century. Sattriya dance is spiritual in nature. Since they were for propagation of neo-Vaishnavism. Still, latterly they came the religious, artistic, and social mecca for the people of Assam. Sattriya is piecemeal from other classical dance forms as it has its unique charm and grace, which evocatively endue it with the bhakti rasa. The word ‘Sattra’ gave this dance its name. It was firstly performed in the Sattras and the Namghars by the manly Bhokots as a part of religious ritual, and for several centuries it was confined within the four walls of the Sattras. Also. it was for spreading the gospel of Vaishnavism.

Formerly, virgin monks performed the dance, and womanish places also legislated by them. A revolutionary change took place when womanish hop started performing this art form. Ultimately, on 15th November 2000, the Sangeet Natak Akademi declared Sattriya Dance as a classical dance form of India.

Sattriya Tradition

The Sattriya tradition gets handed down orally from one generation to another, and in this process also undergoes lyrical and metrical extemporizations. The geographic position of the tradition ranges from the vast breadth of the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam and corridor of the Barak vale in southern Assam to some areas in the Arunachal Pradesh, east Cooch Behar, and West Bengal.

The communities associated with it are

  • The Assamese Hindu Community in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam including Majuli, the swash- islet of the Brahmaputra
  • The Rajbanshi Community in Chatrasal in the skirting areas of Assam as well as Cooch Behar in West Bengal
  • Groups of the Nocte Community in Arunachal Pradesh
  • Many groups of the Bodo Community in Assam and Nagaland border
  • Mising and Sonowal lines spreading over the vale
  • Groups of the Naga lines living within Assam and skirting areas of Assam and Nagaland

Sattriya Dance Style

This dance is different from other dance forms in its introductory station. The dance is grounded on mythological themes. For males it’s called the Purush Pak while for womanish, Prakriti Pak. Amended with the classical rudiments and its basics related to the ‘Natyashastra’,‘Srihastamuktawali’,‘Abhinaya Darpan’, Sattriya dance has reached a different horizon from its origin in the Sattras. Colorful exploration and creative workshop have given this dance form a newer style. In recent times, there has been significant development in the choreographic styles, costumes, and stage donation. Which has led to this dance getting more dynamic as a performing art.

The Sattriya dance can be classified into two styles, ‘Paurashik Bhangi’ i.e., Tandava or Mannish style and‘Stri Bhangi’ i.e., Lashya or womanlike style.

The musical instruments used in Sattriya are the Khols or the Barrels, the Taals or the Cymbals and the Flute. Music instruments similar as Mridangam and Pakhwaj were a part of the music of Rojaghoria Chali Dance. Still, in recent times we use violin too in the Sattriya music.