In Odia, Goti means "single" or "one" and Pua means "boy". The tradition of boys being dressed as girls and performing abhinaya in praise of Lord Jagannath was named as 'Gotipua' dance.
It is believed that during reign of the Mughals in Odisha, the devadasi tradition was under threat and devadasis feared for their own safety. As a result, to continue the tradition, boys were dressed as girls and trained to dance. According to an anecdote, during the reign of Pratap Rudra Deva (King of Odisha from 1497 to 1540), the famous Vaishnava saint Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 to 1534) had visited Puri. And Vaishnavism gradually flourished in Odisha. Devotion and love for Sri Krishna found its way into the hearts of many. Numerous people imagined themselves to be the consort of the lord, who alone was considered as a man. They dressed themselves up as women and expressed their deep love and devotion to him through dance and music. They became completely engrossed in it. Many people believe, this is how the Gotipua dance came into existence.
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