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The Mysterious Bird Phenomenon of Jatinga Dance Festival

December 04, 2011  by: Paulose  Points: 15   Category: Celebrity    Views: 662

Jatinga dance festival at Jatinga, a village in the Northeastern State Assam, is still a great mystery to the bird watchers and nature lovers. Tourists, bird watchers, nature lovers, writers and tourist operators throng in this village during this season to enjoy the wonders of Jatinga plate dance.


Jatinga dance festival at Jatinga, a village in the Northeastern State Assam, is still a great mystery to the bird watchers and nature lovers. Tourists, bird watchers, nature lovers, writers and tourist operators throng in this village during this season to enjoy the wonders of Jatinga plate dance performed on a moonless day that falls in October or November. Different species of migratory birds are attracted to the strong light sources of this dance.
Jatinga village

Jatinga is a village located at the foothills of Borail ranges, nine kilometers away from hill station of Assam . It exists in a valley surrounded by hils and valleys.

History of Jatinga dance

Jatinga dance is a kind of ritual dance performed traditionally. Keson Suchinag, the seventy two-year headman of the Jatinga Khasi village, says, "Jatinga village was originally inhabited by certain people who belonged to Jeme Naga tribe. Jaintia tribe people who came to this village in 1903, in search of suitable land for growing betel nut, found this village suitable for their cultivation. The villagers witnessed the bird phenomenon, whenever they carried bamboo torches to scare away the stray cattle grazing their crops. They believed that it was some kind of demons who were threatening them in the disguise of birds. It is because of this superstition that the Jeme Naga villages were abandoned by the earlier settlers. But the Jaintia tribe people found that those villages were quite suitable for their cultivation and stayed in Jatinga."

Jatinga traditional dance

Jatinga traditional dance is performed on the occasion of Jatinga festival to attract the migratory birds. It is celebrated on a moonless night, usually on any of the new moon days that fall in October and November, when the mist and fog bearing southwest winds blow over the Jatinga valley.

Tribal girls of Jaintia, Biate, Hrangkhawl, Nepali, Meitei and the Karbi tribes, dressed in their traditional attire and holding plates in their hands perform this indigenous plate dance. Villagers from all around cheer and enjoy the dance and the hovering of the attracted birds.

Different species of local migratory birds get attracted to the strong light sources displayed during the Jatinga dance and are trapped in the 'bird trap lights' The mystery of this peculiar phenomenon is yet to be studied.

To promote harmony and peace

The tribal people who were living in those villages were often fighting among themselves on so many issues. Each tribe had its own rituals and traditions. The Jatinga festival is an attempt to regain peace of life in this region which was always at clash due to so many socio-political reasons. This festival is an occasion to spread the message of harmony amongst the people of different tribes. The cultural programs during this festival are planned to promote peace and tranquility in the area, to bring emotional integration and to remove the spell of despair from the minds of these people.

Because of the regional clashes, this bird phenomenon was not given due importance all these years. But now the Indian government is taking steps to promote this indigenous plate dance festival to promote tourism and to build up peace and harmony in the area. This year, hundreds of tourists enjoyed the 'First International Festival of Jatinga dance', celebrated a few days back in Jatinga tribal village.



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