Dhunuchi Dance is a ritualistic dance performed during Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Jagadhatri Puja. It is an important part of Navami and Durga Visarjan rituals. The dance is performed by both men and women.
The main dancer carries a lamp with smoldering incense. The dance is accompanied by chanting of mantras and traditional musical instruments. The dance usually happens after the nightfall in sacred places, Durga Puja pandals and in ancestral homes that perform Durga Puja.
Dhunuchi – The Earthen Container
The dance form takes its name from the earthen container with a handle (or a long base) and an open top, which the dancer holds. The earthen container is known as Dhunuchi. It is filled with aromatic resins and coconut fiber. It is then burned to produce a fragrant smoke.
The smoke creates patterns in air based on the movements of the dancer.
A Frenzied Dance
The dance is performed in front of Goddess Durga and Goddess Kali.
This is a frenzied dance. The dance is well animated with furious bodily moments and wild spins. A replica of the pattern of the dance is created by the heavy smoke in air. As time passes, the drum beats grow frenetic and louder, the mantras too become loud and the dance matches up to the drum beat and loud mantras.
Often it seems the dancer is possessed by a divine power.
Today, along with Dhak and Dhol, Dhunuchi dance is an essential part of Durga Puja.