Esplanade Presents


Chhau: Mythology in Dance

Biren Kalindi Chhau Dance Ensemble (India)

28 Apr 2023, Fri, 7pm & 8.30pm

29 Apr 2023, Sat, 7.15pm & 8.30pm

30 Apr 2023, Sun, 7.30pm & 8.45pm


(Intermission: None)

Esplanade Courtyard Green

This event is over.


Wearing colourful masks that are almost half the size of their bodies, chhau dancers jump and do somersaults effortlessly, energised by rustic folk music. The dancers execute high leaps and kicks, derived from martial arts, as part of this dance that evolved from a history of hunting and warfare. The reedy shehnai begins playing, followed by the dhol and dhamsa drums. A dancer wearing a mask with an elephant face enters, leaping and doing large somersaults. He personifies Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and guiding deity in Hindu traditions. After the invocation and prayer, the performance narrative begins.  


This is what one experiences when watching Purulia chhau, one of three variants of chhau dances that originates from the Purulia region in West Bengal. Purulia chhau is differentiated from the other two types of chhau through the dancers’ warrior-like open-legged stances and the larger-than-life masks. 


The masks, constructed over weeks from paper, clay and cloth, are made by the troupe’s trusted craftsmen, according to the dancer’s facial measurements. Comprising two parts—the face mask and the adorning headdress enclosing it, the masks depict demons, deities, animals and people. Find out more about the intricate process of mask-making.


The narratives told through Purulia chhau are from the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics. One of the more common enactments is the slaying of the bull demon Mahisasur by the Goddess Durga, her husband Lord Shiva and their children (Lords Ganesha and Kartik, as well as the goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati). A battle is waged, and with a hero’s fortitude or divine intervention, good vanquishes evil. 


Since 2010, chhau has been inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Traditionally, the Purulia chhau dance was patronised by the Baghmundi royal family but now it is typically featured as a ritual performance during the Chaitra Parva, the first month of the year of the Hindu calendar and Shiv Gajan, a spring festival held in honour of Lord Shiva.


No tickets will be issued. 

Things to Note:
Accessibility Advisory: We provide a range of access services and relaxed performances for patrons with access needs. For wheelchair-accessible seats, please call Esplanade Customer Experience at 6828 8377 for assistance. Concessions for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) and up to one accompanying companion are available. | View our accessibility guide
Artist Information

Biren Kalindi Chhau Dance Ensemble

Hailing from Purulia, India and formed in 2006, the Biren Kalindi Chhau Dance Ensemble comprises 12 members led by master chhau artist Biren Kalindi, a prominent natua and chhau dance artist. While the troupe specialises in narratives from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, it also presents acts based on social issues that are of concern. The ensemble has performed regularly across West Bengal and parts of India, such as Ahmedabad, Delhi, Goa, Mumbai, Odisha and Udaipur. They have also performed in China, France, Germany, Lithuania and Switzerland. 

Date & Time

28 Apr 2023, Fri


Esplanade Courtyard Green


Esplanade Courtyard Green

29 Apr 2023, Sat


Esplanade Courtyard Green


Esplanade Courtyard Green

30 Apr 2023, Sun


Esplanade Courtyard Green


Esplanade Courtyard Green

Become a member

Three membership cards depicting each membership tier, Discover, White and Black.

Great arts experiences begin with Esplanade&Me. Join this membership to enjoy ticket specials on shows at Esplanade, early bird specials, promotions at Esplanade Mall, unlimited access to Offstage and more.

Never miss a show again. Get on our mailing list.