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Paata Naach

The Santals are fond of dance and music and have different types of songs for different occasions. In fact, each occasion and each festival has a particular kind of song, its own particular rhythm and dance step associated with it. Many of these songs are spontaneous expressions of the composer`s sentiments and the vagaries of life. Both past incidents, traditions and current events find expression in their songs. 

The Paata (Pata) Parob  festival held in the month of Baisakh (April-May) in honour of the Santals` Paata Bonga or Bhokta is really an adaptation of the Hindu Charak Puja festival held in honour of Mahadev or Shiva.  Thus Paata Sereng would literally mean songs sung at the Paata Parob (festival) of the Santals,  coinciding with Choitro Sankranti.



The Santals are fond of dance and music and have different types of songs for different occasions. In fact, each occasion and each festival has a particular kind of song, its own particular rhythm and dance step associated with it. Many of these songs are spontaneous expressions of the composer`s sentiments and the vagaries of life. Both past incidents, traditions and current events find expression in their songs. 

The Paata (Pata) Parob  festival held in the month of Baisakh (April-May) in honour of the Santals` Paata Bonga or Bhokta is really an adaptation of the Hindu Charak Puja festival held in honour of Mahadev or Shiva.  Thus Paata Sereng would literally mean songs sung at the Paata Parob (festival) of the Santals,  coinciding with Choitro Sankranti.

However, in actual fact, the Paata Sereng (song) with the Paata Enech (Naach/dance) of the Santals is not confined to any particular festival or time or place. The Paata Naach is a community dance by Santal men and women of all ages. It is performed when large groups of  Santals get together at any celebration (barring their own rituals which have their own specific songs and/or dances) - be it a community festival , a fair held in association with Hindu gods and goddesses, a memorial day or any other festive occasion. Traditionally, such occasions of merriment, when a crowd of Santals have come together, have always been celebrated by way of a Paata Naach. 
 
Young Santals usually throng these dances, in order to forge new bonds of friendship. In the Santal way of life, there are no barriers between the sexes and men and women can mix freely. The dances could go on all night, usually in a secluded forest and may end with the pairing off of many couples. Not so long ago, it was not unknown for a young man to choose his future bride or even carry home a girl of his choice which may result in subsequent marriage (Ipitut Bapla). However, these practices and the dance itself are not prevalent in the more acculturated Santal villages. In Birbhum, for instance, in Santal villages reasonably close to Shantiniketan, Paata Naach is not known, whereas in Purulia and Bankura, Paata Naach is commonly performed whenever there is a get together of people from different villages.   

The instruments that necessarily accompany a Paata Naach are the Tumdak (madol) , Dhamsha (kettle drum), Ghanta (gong)  and Regra (large drum) - all of which are played by the men, who dance facing the women. Though many Santal women today are seen dancing with brass or clay pots carefully balanced on their heads, this feature is borrowed from other communities, in an attempt to enhance the entertainment aspect of the dance and is in no way a Santal tradition.