Dhemsa is a traditional folk dance of tribal people of central India-Southern Odisha and adjacent areas of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The dancers form a chain by clutching each other at a shoulder and waist and dancing to the tune of traditional instrument. Dhemsa is a unique folk dance form performed in groups. It has a certain composition, style, rhythm, body language, traditional costumes, hairstyle, foot steps, etc.
Traditional folk instruments that are used in this dance are dhol, tamak', changu and mahuri. Dhol is the bass drum, Tamak' is an instrument just like a bongo which maintains the tempo of the rhythm. Mohuri is a traditional musical instrument like Joruna. This dance is generally performed in late night by the tribes called "Desia" or "Adivasis" in all ceremonies including the annual ceremony "Chait Parab" and "Pus Puni" or "Pus Parab". The person playing Mohuri is called "Mohuria" who plays the tune and the drummers follow him.
This unique folk dance from Orissa is not just about the body movements but it combines unique hairstyle, traditional costumes, group compositions, stepping patterns etc. It is played with a typical folk music in the background. It is simple dance form which is a reflection of simplicity of lives of tribes of Orissa. Dhemsa is not just restricted to special occasions and festivals but it is a part of the daily routine of tribal peoples. According to the local tribal people, it helps them to relax physically at the end of a hard working and also serves as the main source of entertainment. Since it is a group dance, it also helps the people in the tribal community to come together and promote a feeling of brotherhood and harmony. Dhemsa is an integral part of their lives which is performed on the birth of a child to as part of the celebration. On the other hand, it is also used during the loss of a family member to help the family to cope up with the sorrow. It has a special significance during marriages as it is believed to bind bride and groom together into a strong bond. It is a part of every tradition that is followed by tribes of Orissa.
There is no evidence available about the origin of this form of dance style. Instead, it has just been carried from one generation to another by the tribes of Koraput district and has gradually spread to other districts like Bhotras, Bhumias, Kandhs, and Gadabas.
- Pattnaik, Satyanarayan (January 30, 2011). "Dhemsa continues to catch fancy of foot-tapping tribals". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 August 2016.