Satriya Nritya (dance) has its own tradition which is almost 500 years old. It has some own peculiar characteristics, which are described below as mentioned by K. Bora (2014) in his article “Satriya Nrityar Boishista” in Yuge Yuge Majuli-
- Satriya Nritya has an intact relationship with Ankiya drama and its objective, philosophy and greatness is almost similar to that of Ankiya drama, “Dekhaha Sunaha Nirantare haribolla haribolla”.
- Ankiya drama is fully based on the vaisnhavite philosophy “Krishna bine chrestha deba nahi nahi aar” (there is no supreme god other than Krishna). As we found in Parijat Harana, “Karayata naat uhi bohu sande. Krishnaka bhakati karate prabondhe” (to worship Krishna, they staged drama with various styles of dances) the main aim of Satriya Nritya is also to worship lord Bishnu.
- The main character of Ankiya drama is Krishna or Raam and the activities of such characters is technically tied up in the various meters or rhymes of dances “Aaye jagata guru Kaya paribesha, jiniye kama kouti natabara besha” (in the form of a dancer, world’s master enters). Hence the main worshipper of Satriya Nritya is Natabara Krishna or dancer Krishna.
- Though not in the satra’s daily ritual of Naam Prasanga (kind of religious ritual performed in the satras everyday), in case of some particular rituals or occasions of satras, the satriya Nritya with the aim of worshipping lord is supplementary to 14 prasangas. By performing Borprabesh in the early night and Ojha paali in late night instead of Bahar Naas (dance) in the noon and Chali Naas in the afternoon, the Kamalabaria (from Kamalabari Satra) artist or austere endeavourer determined a particular characteristic of the performing process of Satriya Nritya.
- The main root of the welfare, entertainment or the ascension of the masses that is done by Ankiya drama is formed by the units of Satriya Nritya.
- One of the essential parts of the prologue of Ankiya drama is Gayan Bayan or Dhemali Badan. Many of the Satriya Nrity’s unit is attached with particular “Dhemalis” (particular way of beating khol playfully). Such as, Nadubhongi Naas is attached with Guru Mridanga Dhemali, Borprabesh Naas with Raamdhemali etc.
- The tradition of Satriya Sangit (songs) is suitably based on the modesty of Assamese society. The colour of the dresses right from the dance units to pathak (main reader in religious activities) Gurus and devotees is white and has a glimpse of holiness. The dress of the graceful Satriya Nritya is determined in the imitation of Assamese women’s wearing of 3 clothes. The dress of Satriya Nritya like the Pati, wearing on their shirt’s, the wig on their head and Prakriti Ura (two flags like cloth wear in their chest in the style of cross) to cover their breast is the identification of the modesty of Assamese women.
- Classical characteristics consisting tradition of Satriya Nritya is mainly located in the Satras of Assam. It has its own granary of musical text and repertoire.
- Satriya Nritya is also a centre of physical education which makes the body healthy and flexible. In the beginning of Satriya Nritya’s teaching, Mati Ahkara (a satriya dance) completed this task.
- Own characteristic of Satriya Nritya is also noticed in the acting of it also. The more focus is given in the word to word synchronized expression rather than full line or sung line interpretation. Satriya ojha Paali is an example of this.
In 2000, the National Sangit Natak Academy gave Satriya Nritya national recognition on the basis of its eligibility but controversy surround this decision and at a time it even went to the court also. The naming of Satriya Nritya has almost completed the 48 years and a few books were also published in this name itself. School and colleges of music were also established in Assam and teaching and practices is also going on there. Now it is never a good sign for our society to create controversy regarding Satriya Nritya especially when it got the formal approval from the govt. Now our prime objective should be to strengthen the tradition of Satriya Nritya, its development, expansion and circulation and if possible to create some new dance forms on the basis of this classical Satriya Nritya.
- Dr. Rubi Mahanta (2015). “Ankiya Naat: Eti Bislesanatmak Adhayan,” in Dr. Sanjib Kumar Borgohain (editor), BrindaBanChandra. Dakhinpat Satra Prakashan Parishad, p. 144.
- Karuna Bora (2014). “Satriya Nrityar Boishista” in Prof. Dilip Kumar Phukan (editor), Yuge Yuge Majuli. Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Samiti, Assam, pp. 37-41.
- Sri Narayan Chandra Goswami (2009). “Satriya Nrityar Udbhab, Uttaran and Sampratik Chinta” in Dr. Debajit Saikia (editor), Sri Narayan Chandra Goswami Prabandhavali, Voll ll. Sri Narayan Chandra Goswami Prabandhavali Editorial Board, pp. 134-136.
- Prof. Apurbajyoti Hazarika (2014). “Satriya Asceticism: A Gem of Human pursuits,” in Prof. Dilip Kumar Phukan (editor), in Yuge Yuge Majuli. Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Samiti, Assam, p. 83.