Kud Dance Bhalessa A cultural festival

Tara Singh Bhall
Jammu Division is the land of fairs and festivals which have a great cultural traditional and religious significance. These fairs and festivals take place on some special occasions throughout year.
The culture of Jatras is very prominent in hilly and rural areas of Udhampur, Kishtwar and Doda Distt and is being celebrated before start of harvesting season. In Doda Distt, it starts in the month of September from Bhella, Pernote, Mohalla Bisshala then goes to Drabshalla , Sarror to Bunjwah (Kishtwar), then to Nagni Drwath, Indloo, Kansoo, Challer and Pingal. Jatras festival is celebrated for four days in Jitota Hindu area with great pomp and show, in which village Chonwari, Drai, Bheja, Ludoo, Knasar, Kharangal and Kandolo, Raila, arrange food free of cost to the visitors and relatives.
In Bhalessa area in Bheja village, a Kud Dance (Dhaku Dance) is mainly performed during night hours around a bonfire to please their Beer Devta. This Dhaku Dance is performed as a gratitude towards the Kul Devta for protecting and taking care of their crops, cattle and other near and dear family members from all sort of natural calamities. People of all ages take part in this Mela with great enthusiasm. These Jatras Melas are organized by the Hindu Community only and Kud dance is performed all the night round. While other communities show their presence and participate to maintain brotherhood in society.
People and farmers from Delhi, Kishtwar and Bhaderwah celebrate their joyous moments with friends and relatives. During militancy the Bheja Kud of Jatras was not stopped but used to be performed regularly.
In the wee hours of morning Kud dance is closed.
The famous Kud Dancers are : Bhuri Singh, Prem Singh, Naseeb Singh, Maheshwar Singh, Behari Lal, Bagmal, Pawan Kumar, Kapul Dev, Milak Ram, Pardeep Kumar, Boj Ram, Kalyam Singh. After Bheja Mela, next day a Dhaku Dance Festival is celebrated at Chounwari village at 10 am in honor of Bhatani Devi and in this Kud Dance only ladies are allowed to dance. At village Drai pasture every visitor gets surprised to see more than 2000 buffaloes and horses grazing all together, as animals and sheep are the sources of income of farmers. Near this spot, the Mahal Nag temple is situated where wrestling match competition is performed every year under wrestling committee of Chonwari, Drai Bhalessa.
On 3rd day Chella Shakti Singh along with others go to Kharangal Raila where Dhaku Dance is celebrated in between 10 thousands visitors.