Fire dancers in Goa ain't got nothing on the clay burning bhadraloks at a Durga Puja. And that's a fact. This piece is a tribute, to some of the most underrated bad boys and girls on the scene.
If someone says their middle name is 'Danger', they probably float around with burning clay pots on their chins every year-end.
For the uninitiated, the dhunuchi naach is the OG fire dance - a smoky, intoxicating waltz that is part of the arati, or ritual dance worship.
The dhunuchi itself is a clay stem, filled with burning coal, coconut husk and incense.
Dancers hold two, or even three at once (sometimes on their chins!), and twirl their way into a swirling dervish. They're accompanied by the rhythmic hits of the dhak, becoming ever more frenzied until a state of spiritual oneness is achieved.
Yeah, pretty, intense.
The entire custom is a spectacle, it keeps you on the edge, it's like a shot of adrenaline to the otherwise more mellow festivities of the Bengali masses.
The billowing smoke, meant to be a thank you to the gods, also had a more practical use - dhuno purifies the air and works as a mosquito repellant.
Imagine being a mosquito and seeing a wild-eyed fire wielding Bong coming at you - you'd never buzz in anyone's ear ever again.
The furious elegance of the dhunuchi naach is a unique phenomenon - equal parts fierce and beautiful.
Earlier, only men would perform the dance, but over time, women have joined in the jamboree.
The entire event is basically an Indian hootenanny.
Even attempting the dhunuchi naach requires some hardcore roshogullas, if you know what I'm saying. But fired up on kabiraji cutlets, these effervescent warriors dance on. And if a wound should occur, there's always Boroline, right?
Do yourselves a favour, and go catch one of these in action. It's bright, invigorating and one of the most unexpectedly badass things you could ever see a sari-clad aunty do.