Chhau dance is a genre of Indian tribal martial dance which is popular in the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal. There are three subgenres of the dance, based on its places of origin and development, Seraikella Chhau, Mayurbhanj Chhau and Purulia Chhau. This is also called paika nrutya.The word paika is derived from the Sanskrit word Padatika meaning the infantry, and hence the name of the dance is battle (paika) dance (nrutya).
The Chhau dance is mainly performed during regional festivals, especially the spring festival of Chaitra Parva which lasts for thirteen days and in which the whole community participates. The Chhau blends within it forms of both dance and martial practices employing mock combat techniques (called khel), stylized gaits of birds and animals (calledchalis and topkas) and movements based on the chores of village housewives (called uflis). The dance is performed by male dancers from families of traditional artists or from local communities and is performed at night in an open space, called akhada or asar, to traditional and folk music, played on the reed pipes mohuri and shehnai. A variety of drums accompany the music ensemble including the dhol (a cylindrical drum), dhumsa (a large kettle drum) and kharka or chad-chadi. The themes for these dances include local legends, folklore and episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata and other abstract themes.