List of Indian folk dances

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Main article: Dance in India

Indian folk and tribal dances are simple dances, and are performed to express joy. Folk and tribal dances are performed for every possible occasion, to celebrate the arrival of seasons, birth of a child, a wedding and festivals. The dances are extremely simple with minimum of steps or movement. The dances burst with verve and vitality. Men and women perform some dances exclusively, while in some performances men and women dance together. On most occasions, the dancers sing themselves, while being accompanied by artists on the instruments. Each form of dance has a specific costume. Most costumes are flamboyant with extensive jewels. While there are numerous ancient folk and tribal dances, many are constantly being improved. The skill and the imagination of the dances influence the performance.

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Andaman and Nicobar Islands[edit]

The dance of the Nicobarese — the fascinating tribal group on the island of Car Nicobar — is performed during the Ossuary Feast or the Pig Festival. Dedicated to the departed head of the family, the occasion is observed with night-long dancing in the full moonlight under the swaying palms. The dancers dressed in coconut fronds step gracefully in time to traditional songs. Feasting and good food followed by a pig fight in the morning are other highlights of the celebration.

Andhra Pradesh[edit]

Kuchipudi[edit]

Kuchipudi (Telugu: కూచిపూడి) is a Classical Indian dance from Andhra Pradesh, India. It is also popular all over South India. Kuchipudi is the name of a village in the Divi Taluka of Krishna district that borders the Bay of Bengal and also the surname of the resident Brahmins practicing this traditional dance form, it acquired the present name.[1]

Kolattam[edit]

Kolattam or "the stick dance", is one of the most popular dance narratives in Andhra Pradesh. It is also called as Kolannalu or Kolkolannalu. It's a rural art usually performed during village festivals. It is a combination of rhythmic movements, songs and music. The Kolatam group comprises dancers ranging from 8 to 40 where they are grouped in pairs. The sticks provides the main rhythm. The dancers are led by the leader and move about in two circles. The inner circle receive the strikes on their sticks from the artists in the outer circle that deliver them. Kolattam is also called Kolanna in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh state.

Arunachal Pradesh[edit]

Bardo Chham[edit]

A folk dance of Sherdukpens, a small community of West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh, Bardo Chham depicts the victory of good over evil. The dance has an interesting background. According to the local beliefs, forces - both good and evil, rule mankind. The folks believe that in one year, twelve different types of stupid things, representing evil forces, appear each month and get together. The sherdukpens mask themselves representing the different animals and dance to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals as an act of fighting the evil forces.

Assam[edit]

Assam is very rich in culture. It has so many traditional dance, music etc. The most important folk dances are listed below.

Bihu dance[edit]

The Bihu dance is a folk dance from the Indian state of Assam related to the festival of Bihu. This joyous dance is performed by both young men and women, and is characterized by brisk dance steps,and rapid hand movement. Dancers wear traditionally colorful Assamese clothing. Dhol(Drum), Pepa(Horn), Gagana (an instrument made of bamboo) are the musical instrument used in this dance.

Jumur Nach[edit]

The tea garden workers of Assam have developed a synthesised form of dance called "Jumur Nach". This dance is performed by girls and boys together, sometimes by the girls alone, with accuracy of foot work while clasping tightly each other's waist. This dance is performed in the music of a beating drum like instrument called 'Madal'.This is a very beautiful dance. A visitor to any tea garden can easily see this dance.[2]

Bagurumba[edit]

Bagurumba dance is very attractive. This dance is generally a formation dance with slow steps and outstretched hands. This dance is performed by girls alone. Girls dressed in traditional colourful Bodo attire perform this dance in Bodo traditional musical instruments. This dance can be seen in the Bodo land areas of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Nalbari, Darrang and Sonitpur districts.[3][4]

Ali Ai Ligang[edit]

Ali ai ligang is a festival of Mishing community of Assam. In this festival they perform this dance for making an offering to their deities. This dance can be seen in the north eastern part of Assam.[5]

Jharkhand[edit]

Karma/Munda: The traditional dance gets its name from the Karma tree[ambiguous], which stands for fortune and good luck. The ceremony starts with the planting of the trees. Dancers, both men and women, form circles around it and dance with their arms around each other's waists. As the drum beats get quicker and louder, the dancers gain momentum and generally end in an uproarious tumult.

Chhattisgarh[edit]

Panthi[edit]

The folk dance of the Satnami community of Chhattisgarh bears religious overtones. Performed on Maghi Purnima - the birth anniversary of their Guru(Saint) Guru Ghasidas, the dance is evolving still to include a variety of steps and patterns. The dancers dance around a jaitkhamb set up for the occasion, to the songs eulogizing their spiritual head. The songs also reflect the Nirvana philosophy, conveying the spirit of renunciation of their Guru and the teachings of saint poets like Kabir, Ramdas, Dadu, etc. Dancers with bent torsos and swinging arms continue to dance till carried away by their devotion. As the rhythm quickens, they indulge in acrobatics and even form human pyramids.

Raut Nacha[edit]

A traditional folk dance usually done by yadavs/yaduvanshis (a caste which considers itself as descendants of Krishna) as symbol of worship to Krishna. Done at the time of 'dev udhni ekadashi' (time of awakening of Gods after brief rest) according to Hindu pancang (calendar). The dance is a close resemblance of krishna's raas leela (dance of lord with his village's girls called gopis) with gopis.

Goa[edit]

The multi-hued Tarangamel dance is all energy and youthfulness. On the occasions of Dussehra and Holi, the spirited girls and boys swarm the streets in colorful group, waving flags and streamers (tarang), inspiring and inviting one and all to imbibe the festive spirit. They shout "Ho! Ho!" To the beats of 'romut', 'dhol' and 'tasha'. The rainbow like costumes of the dancers and the multi-coloured flags and streamers make Tarangamel a visually appealing affair.

The other popular folk dances are:[6][7]

  • Dashavatara
  • Dekhni
  • Dhalo
  • Dhangar
  • Fugdi
  • Ghodemodni
  • Goff
  • Jagar
  • Kunbi
  • Mando
  • Muslam Khel
  • Perni Jagar
  • Ranamale
  • Romta Mel
  • Divlyan Nach (Lamp dance)
  • Veerabhadra

Gujarat[edit]

Garba[edit]

Garba is customarily performed by women, the dance involves circular patterns of movement and rhythmic clapping. It popularly performed during Navratri. The word comes from "garbha deep" which is translated as either light in the inner sanctum of the temple or lamp inside a perforated earthen pot (which is often used in the dance).[8][9]

Padhar[edit]

It is performed by a rural community living around Nal Sarovar Lake. In it, performers simulate the rhythmic movements of roving mariners and the undulating sea waves. The Bhil tribes, who live close to border tracts, and the Adivasis of Dangs district, have particularly lively folk dances.

Raas[edit]

Raas is an energetic, vibrant dance originating in the state of Gujarat. Often called the "stick dance" because it uses polished sticks or dandiya, it represents a mock-fight between Durga and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king. It is nicknamed "The Sword Dance" because the dandiya represent the sword of Durga and are hit together.[8][10] The combination of garba and raas has become very popular at the collegiate level in the United States. Garba-Raas competitions are increasing in number. Popular ones include Dandia Dhamaka,[11] Raas Chaos,[12] Garba With Attitude, Dandia on Fire and Maryland Masti among others.[13]

Tippani Dance[edit]

Originated from the chorwad region of Saurashtra, laborer women take a wooden rod to beat the floor,which had iron/wood piece at one end, to make it stronger in opposite rows,which made the dance an interesting work.[14]

Himachal Pradesh[edit]

Kinnauri Nati[edit]

The beauty of hilly Himachal finds an expression in the languid and elegant movements that form a part of the marvelous Nati dance. The dance matches the gentleness of the hilly breeze and the rhythmic swaying of trees. The dance is mainly a mime but also incorporates some abstract but languid sequences. Important among the dances of Nati is 'Losar shona chuksom', which takes its name from Losai, or the New Year. The dance depicts all the activities involved in sowing the crop and reaping it.

Namgen[edit]

The Namagen dance is performed in September to celebrate the autumnal hues. The costumes are largely woolen and richly studded ornaments of silver are worn by women. The most picturesque amongst these are dances of Gaddis. All regions of Himachal Pradesh have their own dances. Mostly men and women dance together, close to each other in the formation.

Haryana[edit]

Main article: Music of Harayana

Haryana has rich tradition of dances for various occasions (wedding, festivals, etc.) and seasons (harvest, sowing of seeds, monsoon, etc.). These dances come under one or the other category. Broadly, the following dances are common in one area or the other and performed on specific occasions.

Karnataka[edit]

Yakshagana artist with Kirita depicts King

Yakshagana[edit]

Yakshagana (Kannada:ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ, pronounced as yaksha-gaana) is a classical dance drama popular in the state of Karnataka mostly popular in the Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Kasaragod districts, Kerala. This theater art involves music, song, dance, acting, dialogue, story and unique costumes. Songs and dance adhere to well-established talas very similar to classical Indian dance forms but acting and dialogues are created spontaneously on stage depending on the ability of the performers. This combination of classical and folk elements makes yakshagana unique from any other Indian art. It can be equated with western opera.

Traditionally, yakshaganas use to start late in the night and run all night. Bhagavata, the background singer, is also the directory of the story and controls the proceedings on stage. Bagavatha along with background musicians who play chande and maddale forms himmela. The actors wear colorful costumes and enact roles in the story of Mummela.

Yakshagana is sometimes simply called aataā in Kannada and Tulu ("play"). Yakshagana literally means the song (gana) of a yaksha. Yakshas were an exotic tribe mentioned in the Sanskrit literature of ancient India.

There are many professional troupes in Karnataka. In spite of competition from the modern movie industry and TV, these troupes arrange ticketed shows and make a profit.

Bayalata[edit]

Bayalata is a form of Yakshagana found in southern Indian region of Karnataka featuring stories of from Indian epic poetry and the Puranas rendered as dance and drama. Bayalāṭa literally means open theater drama and marks the end of harvest season. The most popular theme for bayalāṭa is the story of Kōṭi and Cennayya, which has deep-rooted significance for the people of Tulu Nadu.

Dollu Kunitha[edit]

The Dollu Kunitha is a popular drum dance of Karnataka. The vigorous drum dance is performed by the men of the shepherd community known as 'Kurba'. Powerful drumming, acrobatic movements and attractive formations are the notable highlights of the dance. The men have large drums, decorated with colored cloth, slung from their necks, and they beat the drums as they dance with nimble foot and leg movement. The dance is at times accompanied by songs, which are religious or in praise of war.

Veeragaase dance[edit]

Main article: Veeragase

Female artists performing Veeragase is a dance form prevalent in the state of Karnataka, India. It is a vigorous dance based on Hindu mythology and involves very intense energy-sapping dance movements. Veeragase is one of the dances demonstrated in the Dasara procession held in Mysore. This dance is performed during festivals and mainly in the Hindu months of Shravana and Karthika.

Kashmir[edit]

Dumhal[edit]

Dumhal is a dance performed by the men folk of the Wattal tribe of Kashmir on specific occasions. The performers wear long colorful robes, tall conical caps that are studded with beads and shells. The party moves in a procession carrying a banner in a very ceremonial fashion. It is dug into the ground and the men begin to dance, forming a circle. The musical accompaniment comprises a drum and the vocal singing of the participants. Dumhal is performed on set occasions and at set locations.

Lakshadweep[edit]

Lava[edit]

Lava is the colorful dance of the Minicoy Island of Lakshadweep in which dancers wear multi-hued costumes, a headgear and carries a special drum. The dance movements are prolific and profuse and are in rhythm with the drum beats and vocal accompaniment.

Madhya Pradesh[edit]

Tertali[edit]

The Kamar tribe performs the Tera Tali, which is an elaborate ritual with many elements of dance. It is generally performed by two or three women who sit on the ground. Manjiras, or small metal cymbals are tied to different parts of the body, mostly the legs, and with a cymbal in either hand the dancer strikes these in rhythm. The head is covered with a veil, and at times a small sword is clenched between the teeth and an ornamental pot balanced on the head.

Charkula[edit]

This dance is performed in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh- the land of Krishna and his consort - Radha. Veiled women balancing large multi-tiered circular wooden pyramids on their heads, alight with 108 oil lamps, dance to the strains of 'rasiya' - songs of Krishna. Charkula is especially performed on the third day after Holi - the day, which Radha was born. According to legend, Radha's grandmother ran out of the house with the charkula on her head to announce the birth of Radha, since then, Charkula has formed a popular dance form of Brajbhoomi, performed during various festivities.

Jawara[edit]

The Jawara is performed in the Bundelkhand area of Madhya Pradesh. It is essentially a harvest dance-reflecting the gaiety and pleasure of the peasants who have reaped a good harvest. The dance is performed by men and women together. The costumes and jewellery worn by the women are colorful. The women carry baskets full of jawara on their heads and although the dance is very vigorous they are able to balance these baskets very skillfully on their heads. The accompaniment includes a rich variety of percussion, stringed and wind instruments.

Matki Dance[edit]

The tableland of Malwa has comparatively very few dances. On wedding occasions, the countryside women of this part perform the 'Matki' dance with an earthen pot balanced on the head, the Matki is mostly danced solo. Sometimes just for merriment a couple of women join the main dancer who usually dances with a veil on her face. The two other variations of the Matki are the Aada and Khada Nach.

Phulpati Dance[edit]

The Phulpati is another dance, exclusively for unmarried girls. It is a dance of the semi-rural womenfolk. The agriculturist class of Malwa is not very much inclined to any dance by nature. During the Holi festival the revelers cannot restrain themselves from coming out with some sort of dance movements to the uneven manipulation of drums.

Grida Dance[edit]

When rabi crops sway in the fields in full bloom, the parties from different villages join together and perform the Grida dance. It continues from morning till evening. The host village returns the visit next year by going to the village of their guests of the preceding year. The dance has three distinct phases: (1) Sela - The feet movements are slow and comparatively rigid. (2) Selalarki - The feet movements become brisker and faster. (3) Selabhadoni - With the acceleration of the tempo, every limb of the body begins to sway in mood of exaltation.

Maanch[edit]

Maanch is a lyrical folk drama and a form of operatic ballet that is very popular in Malwa in Madhya Pradesh. "Maanch" means the stage or place of performance and as an indigenous & distinct folk-form. The presentation style & technique of the Maanch, its various thematic elements, & suitable music and gaudy costumes all contribute in making this play a unique one.

Gaur Maria Dance[edit]

Gaur Maria dance is one of the important dances of Bison Horn Marias of Abhujmaria plateau of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. This is a very beautiful and joyful dance and is basically performed as an invocation on the occasion of marriages.

Maharashtra[edit]

Pavri Nach[edit]

In the hilly regions of the north west, the Kokna tribal dance to the accompaniment of the tarpha or pavri, a wind instrument made of dried gourd. Because of this, the dance is known as Tarpha Nach or Pavri Nach. The performers hold each other by the waist and dance in close formation. Men also dance separately, and this includes feats of skill, like forming a pyramid or rapidly revolving a dancer round a stout pole.
1.Lavni
2.Dhangri Gaja
3.Povadas
4.Koli
5.Tamasha
6.Dindi
7.Kala
8.Dangi

Lavani[edit]

Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which is particularly performed to the beats of Dholki, a percussion instrument. Lavani is noted for its powerful rhythm and erotic sentiment. Lavani has contributed substantially to the development of Marathi folk theatre.[2] In Maharashtra and southern Madhya Pradesh, it is performed by the female performers wearing nine-yard long saris. The songs are sung in a quick tempo.

Manipur[edit]

Thang Ta[edit]

Thang Ta (The Art of the Sword and Spear) is the martial art form exclusive to Manipur, where Thang means sword and Ta means spear. In this amazing display of the traditional art of warfare, performers leap and attack each other and defend themselves. Encouraged by the kings of the earlier times, Thang Ta is an ingenious display of skill and creativity. The art has a ritualistic aspect with some movements of sword intended to ward off evil spirits, while other postures indicating protection. All the dance forms of Meiti people are believed to have originated from Thang Ta.

Dhol cholom[edit]

The drum, by itself, enjoys a privilege in the dances of Manipur. There are several kinds of drums, each intended for a particular occasion. The festival of Holi, in spring, is the real time for drum dances, such as Dhol Cholom. Lai haraoba dance is also a major folk dance of manipur.

Mizoram[edit]

Cheraw Dance[edit]

Cheraw dance is a combination of rhythm and skill. Four people hold two pairs of long bamboos across one another on the ground. As the bamboo sticks are clapped together, the main dancers in traditional attires weave patterns through them in time to the rhythm. Cheraw is a major attraction during all festive occasions in Mizoram. Cheraw is believed to have a foreign origin. Similar dances are popular in the Far East and the Philippines. The Mizos may have brought the dance with them when they migrated to their land in India.

Nagaland[edit]

Chang Lo or Sua Lua[edit]

This dance of the Chang tribe of Nagaland was performed to celebrate the victory over enemies in the earlier times. Presently, it forms a part of all the community celebrations, such as Poanglem, a three day festival preceding the harvest season. There are dramatic costumes of the traditional Naga warrior and finery of womenfolk.

Odisha[edit]

Ghumura Folk Dance from Odisha

Ghumura Dance[edit]

Ghumura Dance (or Ghumra Dance) is one of the most sought and leading folk dance form in Odisha. It is classified as folk dance as the dress code of Ghumura resembles more like a tribal dance, but recent researchers argue different mudra and dance form present in Ghumura bear more resemblance with other classical dance form of India. The timeline of Ghumura dance is not clear. Many researchers claim it was a War dance in ancient India and used by Ravana in Ramayana. Ghumura dance is depicted in Sun Temple of Konark confirming this dance form is since the medieval period. In the 'Madhya Parba" of "Sarala Mhabharata" Ghumura has been mentioned as: Dhola Madala Gadi je Ghumura Bajai Ghumura je Ghumu Ghumu Hoi Garajai

In Chandi Purana mentions: Biratwara Biradhola Daundi Ghumura Kadamardala Bajanti Mari Galatura

Ghumura was also used as a Darbari dance in the princely state of Kalahandi and played by the earstwhile Kalahandi state during war times. The typical mixed sound that comes out of the musical instruments like Ghumura, Nishan, Dhol, Taal, Madal etc. and the expressions and movements of the artists make this dance to be a "Heroic Dance". Since thousands of years Ghumura dance has evolved from a war dance to a dance form for cultural and social activities. The dance is associated with social entertainment, relaxation, love, devotion and friendly brotherhood among all class, creed and religion in the present days. Traditionally this dance is also associated with Nuakhai and Dasahara celebration in Kalahandi and large parts of south western Odisha. Ghumura dance is still hidden in the village level in south western Odisha and some parts of bordering Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Kalahandi region has taken a leading rule in popularizing and retaining its unique identity of Ghumura dance. Kalahandi is mainly known as land of Ghumura. Ghumura dance has got the opportunity to represent the nation in various international events Delhi, Moscow, Kolkata, and various other cities in India. Ghumura dance is also one of the most researched folk dance form in Odisha.

Ruk Mar Nacha (& Chhau dance)[edit]

Main article: Chhau dance

Chau dance is originated and performed in the Mayurbhanj District and Nilagi region of Baleswar district of Odisha. it has its base in the martial arts tradition. The dance is a stylized mock battle in which two groups of dancers armed with swords and shields, alternatively attack and defend themselves with vigorous movements and elegant stances. Especially notable is the accompanying music, noted for its rhythmic complexities and vigorous percussion. The instruments include 'Mahuri' - a double reeded instrument, 'Dhola' - a barrel shaped two-sided drum, 'Dhumsa' - a hemispherical drum and 'Chadchadi' - a short cylindrical drum.

Goti Pua[edit]

Main article: Gotipua

The goti puas are boy dancers who dress up as girls. They are students of the akhadas, or gymnasia, established by Ramachandradeva in Puri, in the periphery of the temple. As they were offshoots of the akhada system, goti puas also came to be known as akhada pilas - boys attached to akhadas. Another reason often given to justify the emergence of the goti pua system is that some followers of the Vaishnava religion disapproved of dancing by women as a pretext for worship - they introduced the practice of dancing by boys dressed as girls. The word goti means 'one', 'single' and pua, 'boy', but the goti puas always dance in pairs. Boys are recruited about the age of six and continue to perform till they are 14, then become teachers of the dance or join drama parties. Goti puas are now part of professional teams, known as dals, each headed by a guru. The boys are trained for about two years, during which, after having imbibed the basic technique, they learn items of dance, ornamental and expressional. The goti puas, being youngsters in their formative years, can adapt their bodies to the dance in a far more flexible manner as opposed to the maharis. A goti pua presentation is ably supported by a set of three musicians, who play the pakhawaj, the geeni, or cymbals and the harmonium. The boys do the singing themselves, though at times the group has an additional singer.

Nacnī[edit]

Female performers who sing and dance professionally in rural areas, accompanied by male ḍhulkī and nagarā drummers.

Odissi[edit]

Main article: Odissi dance

Odissi is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. It originates from the state of Odisha, in eastern India. It is the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences. The classic treatise of Indian dance, Natya Shastra, refers to it as Odra-Magadhi. First century BCE bas-reliefs in the hills of Udaygiri (near Bhubaneshwar) testify to its antiquity. It was suppressed under the British raj but has been reconstructed since India gained independence.

It is particularly distinguished from other classical Indian dance forms by the importance it places upon the tribhangi (literally: three parts break), the independent movement of head, chest and pelvis, and upon the basic square stance known as chauka.

Origin and history: The first clear picture of Odissi dance found in the Manchapuri cave in Udayagiri which was carved at the time of king Kharavela. Flanked by two queens Kharavela himself was watching a dance recital where a damsel was performing a dance in front of the court with the company of female instrumentalists. Thus Odissi can be traced back to its origin as secular dance. Later it got attached with the temple culture of Odisha. Starting with the rituals of Jagannath temple in Puri it was regularly performed in Shaivite, Vaishnavite and Sakta temple in Odisha. An inscription is found where it was also engraved that a Devadasi Karpursri's attachment to Buddhist monastery, where she was performing along with her mother and grandmother. Thus it proves that Odissi first originated as a court dance. Later it performed in all religious places of Jaina as well as Buddhist monasteries. Odissi, was initially performed in the temples as a religious offering by the 'Maharis' who dedicated their lives in the services of God. It has the most closer resemblance with sculptures of the Indian Temples. The history of Odissi dance has been traced to an early sculpture found in the Ranigumpha caves at Udaygiri (Odisha). dating to the 2nd century BC. Thus Odissi appears to be the oldest classical dance rooted in rituals and tradition. In fact, the NãtyaShãstra refers to Odra Magadhi as one of the vrittis and Odra refers to Odisha.

Danda Nacha[edit]

Danda Nacha is performed in most parts of southern Odisha during the summer season. The uniqueness of this dance is that it is performed only my males and the props they use are bamboo sticks.

Western Odisha[edit]

Baagh Naach or Tiger Dance[edit]

The Sambalpuri folk dance is performed in Binka and Sonepur of Subarnapur district during the month of chaitra. The male dancer paints his bare body with yellow and black stripes like that of a tiger and attaches a suitable tail. One or more dancers move from house to house and after a crowd gathers the dance begins. The dancers are accompanied by a drummer and a bell player who provides the music. The dance is nothing but acrobatic movement in rhythm. They make hissing sounds while dancing. The tiger dance is also performed in Berhampur during the Thakurani Jatra.

Dalkhai[edit]

Though Dusserah is the occasion of Sambalpuri folk dance Dalkhai (it's the most popular folk dance of Odisha), its performance is very common on all other festivals such as Bhaijiuntia, Phagun Puni, Nuakhai, etc. This is mostly danced by young women of Binjhal, Kuda, Mirdha, Sama and some other tribes of Sambalpur, Balangir, Sundargarh, Bargarh, Nuapada and Kalahandi districts. During this dance men join them as drummers and musicians. The dance is accompanied by a rich orchestra of folk music played by a number of instruments known as Dhol, Nisan, Tamki, Tasa and Mahuri. However, the dhol player controls the tempo while dancing in front of the girls.

It is known as Dalkhai because in the beginning and end of every stanza the word is used as an address to a girlfriend. The love story of Radha and Krishna, the episodes from Ramayana and Mahabharata, the description of natural scenery are represented through the songs. The song associated with this dance is sang in the Kosli Sambalpuri language.

The young women dance and sing intermittently. The songs are of special variety with the additive 'Dalkhai Go' which is an address to a girlfriend. While dancing to the uncanny rhythms of the Dhol, they place the legs close together and bend the knees. In another movement they move forward and backward in a half-sitting position. Sometimes they make concentric circles clockwise and anti-clockwise.

The women generally dress themselves in colourful Sambalpuri saris and wear a scarf on the shoulders holding the ends below in the hands. Bedecked with traditional jewellery, their robust frames sustain the strains of the dance for long hours. The Dalkhai dance has several adjunct forms for all ages and groups:

  • Performed by girls: Chhiollai, Humobauli and Dauligit.
  • Performed by teenagers: Sajani, Chhata, Daika and Bhekani.
  • Performed by youth: Rasarkeli, Jaiphul, Maila Jada, Bayamana, Gunchikuta .

The man who worship work, composes "Karma" and "Jhumer" invigorating Lord Vishwakarma and the Karamashani goddess.

Dhap[edit]

This Sambalpuri folk dance is mostly performed by the Kandha tribe of Kosal region. Men of one village dance with women of another village. Usually unmarried boys and girls take part. The dance is performed during marriage ceremony and more often for the sake of recreation. The dance is so named because of the accompanying instrument, the dhap. The dhap is in the shape of a Khanjari made up of wood with one side open and the other side covered with a piece of animal skin. The dhap dancer holds the dhap with his left hand, the sling slung over his left shoulder, and beats with both hands.

Ghumra[edit]

Sambalpuri folk dance Ghumra is also known as vira-badya of the Odisha region. It was used during war to encourage soldiers. It is also used to give social message like forestation, saving girls, literacy, etc. It uses a typical drum: just like a big pitcher with a long stem made of clay. The mouth is covered with the skin of a godhi (a reptile). When played with both hands, it produces a peculiar sound quite different from other drums.

The dance performed to the accompaniment of this drum is called Ghumra Naat. It begins 15 days before the Gamha Puni (full moon in September) and culminates on that night in a ceremonial performance. Young men of the communities fix a Ghoomra each on the chest with string on body and simultaneously dance and play.

The performance begins with slow circular movements. The nisan is a smaller variety of kettle-drum played with two leather sticks. The player always places himself in the centre and controls the tempo of the dance. He also indicates change over the movements. After a brief dance sequence in rhythmic patterns, all the dancers move in a concentric circle and then stand erect in a line. Then enters the singer who first sings in praise of Saraswati and other gods and goddesses. During the song, the drums remain silent. After the prayer-song Chhanda, Chaupadi and other literary folk-songs are sung. Each couplet of a song is followed by a dance. At the end of the each couplet the singer adds 'Takita Dhe' which is a numonic syllable for the time-beats and indicates the dance to begin. Ghumra dancers are basically from Kalahandi and Balangir district.

Karma Naach[edit]

Karam or Karma literally means 'fate' in Kosli (Sambalpuri language). This pastoral Sambalpuri folk dance is performed during the worship of the god or goddess of fate (Karam Devta or Karamsani Devi), whom the people consider the cause of good and bad fortune. It begins from Bhadra Shukla Ekadasi (eleventh day of the full moon of the month of Bhadra) and lasts for several days.

This is popular among the scheduled class tribes (e.g., the Binjhal, Kharia, Kisan and Kol) in the districts of Balangir, Kalahandi, Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Mayurbhanj. This dance is in honour of Karamsani, the deity who bestows children and good crops. After the puja is done it is followed by singing and dancing in accompaniment of drum (maandal), cymbal, etc. The dance performance full of vigour and energy combined with charm of the youth decked with colourful costumes in exuberance of red cloth, set in peacock feathers, skillfully designed ornaments made of small conch shells, brings the onlookers as well as the performers to a mood of trance and ecstasy. Everyone takes part and continues to engross themselves for the whole night. The skillful movement of the boys with mirrors in hand indicates the traditional pattern of love-making in course of dancing and singing. The dance is performed sometimes by boys in group, sometimes by girls in group and sometimes both together. The subject matter of songs constitutes the description of nature, invocation to Karmasani, desires, aspiration of people, love and humour.

Keisabadi[edit]

Only men can take part in this form of the Sambalpuri folk dance. Some of them hold a stick two feet long. They dance in different forms by striking the sticks according to the rhythms of the song they sing. The leader sings first and others follow him. They sing in Kosli and in every stanza they shout "Haido". The main theme of the song is derived from the love story of Radha and Krishna.

Puducherry[edit]

Garadi[edit]

The famous dance of Puducherry is believed to have a purely mythological origin. As the legend goes, when Rama - the epic hero of Ramayana defeated Ravana then the vanars (monkeys) performed this dance to celebrate his victory. Garadi is performed during all festivals and usually continues for five to eight hours. The dancers are disguised as 'vanars' and carry sticks in their hands as they dance to the beat of two big drums, called ' Ramadolus'. A distinctive feature of this dance is the iron rings called 'anjali' which dancers wear on their legs - ten on each leg. As the dancer proceeds, these rings produce a melodious sound.

Punjab[edit]

Bhangra[edit]

The dance known as Bhangra is one of Punjab's most popular dances and the name of the music style. Bhangra is done with classic style Punjabi dresses, and with instruments including a Dhol, Chimta, Tabla, etc. It was originally danced during the harvest season, but now is a popular form of celebration at any time such as weddings and festivals. Bhangra is a very popular style of music and dance in Punjab, but is also very popular in the diaspora, specifically in Canada and the U.K. where many Bhangra competitions are now held. Creating Bhangra teams has become very popular and influential with teenagers.

Giddha[edit]

The counterpart to male bhangra, giddha is a female folk dance from Punjab. It is an energetic dance derived from ancient ring dancing that highlights feminine grace and elasticity. It is often accompanied by singing folk couplets known as bolliyan

Malwai Giddha[edit]

It is a form of Giddha in which only male members participates.

Jhumar[edit]

Karthi[edit]

Kikkli[edit]

It is normally performed by two girls holding hands and twirling each other in circle and balancing their positions in circular motions. The two people pair up and hold each other's hands (right with right and left with left) and spin around at high speed without leaving hands. Sometimes one of the partners bends knees (goes down and comes up) or even lifts both feet off the floor (spinning in the air changing to various foot patterns) while spinning and performs different antics if the other partner is strong enough to hold on.

Sammi[edit]

Dandass[edit]

It is more popularly known as the Nagara style of folk dance.

Ludi[edit]

Jindua[edit]

Rajasthan[edit]

Ghoomar[edit]

Ghoomar is a traditional women's folk dance of Rajasthan which was developed by the Bhil tribe of Mewar zone and was adopted by other Rajasthani communities. "NAACHATO RAJASTHAN" is the group of the artist performing it since last 5 years. It is performed by groups of women in swirling robes accompanied by men and women singing together. This folk dance gets its name from ‘ghoomna’, the pirouetting which displays the spectacular colors of the flowing ‘ghaghara’, the long skirt of the Rajasthani women. There is an amazing grace as the skirt flair slowly while the women twirl in circles, their faces covered with the help of the veil. They dance in measured steps and graceful inclinations of body, beating palms or snapping fingers at particular cadences, while singing some lilting songs.

Kalbelia[edit]

Kalbelia dance is performed by Naachato Rajasthan the women's group of the Kalbelia community of Rajasthan. The main occupation of the community is catching snakes and trading snake venom. Hence, the dance movements and the costumes bear resemblance to that of the serpents. Dancers attired in traditional black swirling skirts sway sinuously to the plaintive notes of the 'been' — the wooden instrument of the snake charmers.

Bhavai[edit]

Bhavai is an important dance form originated in Rajasthan. Bhavai is partly entertainment and partly a ritual offering to Goddess Amba, the presiding deity of Bhavai. In the courtyard of the Ambaji temple near Mount Abu, the Navratri festival is celebrated with bhavai performances.

Bhavai according to some scholars[who?] is made up of two words: bhava means universe and aai is mother; together it means mother of the universe, Amba.

Subtle social criticism laced with pungent humour is the specialty of bhavai. The pompous and incongruous behaviour of high caste people is scoffed at in bhavai. Probably the anger over injustice suffered by the originator of bhavai, Asaita Thakar, permeated the art of bhavai. Some of the bhavai plays present a scathing review of the caste-ridden social structure. People belonging to all levels of social strata are portrayed in bhavai.

Tera tali[edit]

Chirami[edit]

Gair[edit]

Sikkim[edit]

Singhi Chham[edit]

Singhi Chham is a masked dance of Sikkim, depicting snow lion - the cultural symbol of the state. (Snow lion was decreed the guardian deity of the people of Sikkim by Guru Padamsambhava). The third highest mountain in the world - Kanchenjunga(Khang-Chen Dzong Pa), standing sentinel over the state of Sikkim, is believed to resemble the legendary snow lion. The natives display their cultural symbol by dressing up in furry costumes and performing this majestic masked dance.

Tamil Nadu[edit]

Bharatanatyam[edit]

This is a classical Indian dance form is popular and nurtured in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This dance form denotes various 19th and 20th century reconstructions of Sadir, the art of temple dancers called Devadasis. Sadir in turn, is derived from ancient dance in the treatise Natya Shastra by Bharata of fourth or third century BCE. A possible origin of the name is from Bharata Muni, who wrote the Natya Shastra to which Bharathanatyam owes many of its ideas. This etymology also holds up to scrutiny better since Bharathanatyam is pronounced with short (kuril) forms of "bha", "ra" and "tha" whereas each of "bhavam", "ragam" and "talam" contain the long (nedil) forms. Hence the initialization proposed above is more probably a backronym. Bharatanatyam is a reworked dance-form from the traditional "sadir" known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and sculpturesque poses.

Kamandi or Kaman Pandigai[edit]

This is celebrated to commemorate the puranic event when Manmada the God of Love was burnt to ashes by Siva in anger. The villagers separate themselves into two parties as Erintha katchi and Eriyatha katchi and a heated debate ensues. Kaman and Rathi, his consort, are main characters.

Devarattam[edit]

Devarattam or 'the dance of the gods' is the dance of the Kambala Naikar community of Tamil Nadu, who believe that they are the direct descendants of the 'devas' or gods. Fast and fluent movements to the rhythmic sound of ' Deva Thunthubi' - a drum-shaped percussion instrument, make this dance truly enjoyable. The dance is performed during festivals, marriages and other social occasions.

Kummi[edit]

The womenfolk of Tamil Nadu have three closely related dances, which can be performed at any time but are seen at their best during festivities. The simplest of these is the Kummi, in which the dancers gather in a circle and clap their hands as they dance. As an extension to this is the Kolattam, where instead of clapping, the participants hold small wooden rods in their hands and strike these in rhythm as they dance.

Kolattam[edit]

Kolattam is an ancient village art. This is mentioned in Kanchipuram as 'Cheivaikiyar Kolattam', which proves its antiquity. This is performed by women only, with two sticks held in each hand, beaten to make a rhythmic sound. Pinnal Kolattam is danced with ropes which the women hold in their hands, the other of which are tied to a tall pole. With planned steps, the women skip over each other, which forms intricate lace-like patterns in the ropes. As coloured ropes are used, this lace looks extremely attractive. Again, they unravel this lace reversing the dance steps. This is performed for ten days, starting with the Amavasi or Newmoon night after Deepavali.

Karagattam or Karagam[edit]

Folk dance of Tamil country, the villagers perform this dance in praise of the rain goddess "Mari Amman". In this dance, the performers balance the water pot on their head very beautifully. Traditionally, this dance is performed in two types - Aatta Karagam is danced with decorated pots on the head and symbolizes joy and happiness, while the Sakthi Karagam is performed only in temples and is mainly danced for entertainment. Earlier it was performed only with the accompaniment of the Naiyandi Melam, but now it also includes songs. Most expert artistes are from the regions of Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Madurai, Tirunelveli, and Pattukottai and Salem.

In the Karagam dance intricate steps and body/arm movements decides the skill of performer. This dance can be performed individually or in pairs, by both the sexes. Some of the steps that are widely used are similar to the circus acts; dancing on a rolling block of wood, up and down a ladder, threading a needle while bending backwards and many more. Today, the pots have transformed from mud pots to bronze ware and even stainless steel. The pots are decorated in many ways with the help of attractive flower arrangements, topped by a moving paper parrot. The parrot rotates as the dancer takes swings along these looks beautiful. When men perform this dance, they balance the pots filled with uncooked rice, surrounded by a tall conical bamboo frame decorated with colourful flowers. Drums and long pipes form the musical instruments that add vigor to the dance. Also they dance standing over a plate i.e. rim of the plate, filled with water, without spilling water out of the plate while balancing the pot on their head.

Mayil Attam or Peacock dance[edit]

This is done by girls dressed as peacocks, resplendent with peacock feathers and a glittering head-dress complete with a beak. This beak can be opened and closed with the help of a thread tied to it, and manipulated from within dress. Other similar dances are, Kaalai Attam (dressed as a bull), Karadi Attam (dressed as a bear) and Aali Aattam (dressed as a demon) which are performed in the villages during village get-togethers. Vedala Aattam is performed wearing a mask depicting demons.

Paampu attam or Snake Dance[edit]

Paampu attam is yet another typical speciality of the southern region is the snake-dance which arises from the popularity of the snake as a protective divinity, safeguarding the health and happiness of the rural folk. Usually danced by young girls dressed in a tight-fighting costume designed like the snake-skin. The dancer simulates the movements of the snake, writhing and creeping, at times making quick biting movements with head and hands. The raised hands held together look like the hood of a snake.

Oyilattam[edit]

Meaning Dance of Grace, was traditionally a dance where a few men would stand in a row and perform rhythmic steps to the musical accompaniment, with the number of dancers increasing; over the past ten years women have also started performing this dance. Typically, the musical accompaniment is the Thavil and the performers have coloured handkerchiefs tied to their fingers[3] and wear ankle bells.

Puliyattam[edit]

Puli Attam is a Folk Dance of early Tamil country. This Dance forms "a play of the Tigers". Normally the performers make movements of the majestic tigers.Their bodies are painted by local artists in vibrant yellow and black to resemble replica of a tiger. The music instruments used are Tharai, Thappu or Thappattai. Performed during temple festivals on the village streets.

Poikal Kudirai Attam[edit]

Poikal attam refers to the dance of "false legs". Here dancers are attached to a dummy horse at the waist. Instead of 4 legs of a horse only 2 legs of the person with the prop on his body is present. The image is similar to a rider on a horse (albeit a two legged horse and thus the name Poikal attam). This is a popular folklore dance with themes often on "Raja Desingu" - a once popular Rajput ruler called Tej Singh who invaded areas all the way up until Tamil Nadu.[15]

Bommalattam[edit]

Puppet shows are held in every village during festivals and fairs. Many different kinds of puppets are used for this show - cloth, wood, leather, etc. They are manipulated through strings or wires. The persons stand behind a screen and the puppets are held in front. The stories enacted in the puppet shows are from puranas, epics and folklore. These shows are very entertaining and hold both adults and children enthralled for many hours.[16]

Theru Koothu[edit]

Normally conducted during village festivals, during the months of Panguni and Aadi. This is performed where three or four streets meet. Here, make-up and costumes are considered of prime importance. Only men take part; the female roles also played by them. The performance consists of story-telling, dialogue-rendering, songs and dance, all performed by the artistes. The stories are taken from Puranas, epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, and also local folklore. The play starts in the late evening and gets over only during the small hours of the nights. Theru Koothu is popular in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. The Koothu can be categorised as Nattu Koothu, including Vali Koothu, Kuravai Koothu etc. Samaya Koothu dealing with religious topics, Pei Koothu including Thunangai Koothu and Porkala Koothu dealing with martial events.[17]

Tripura[edit]

Hojagiri[edit]

Hojagiri is a reflection of the age-old culture and the unique style of dance of the Reang community of Tripura. Only lower half of the body is moved to create rhythmic movements. Dancers performing unusually amazing acrobatic feats is the main highlight of the dance. Reang girls twist and turn and dance in time to the compelling rhythm, sometimes dancing on an earthen pitcher or balancing a bottle on the head with a lighted lamp on top of it.

West Bengal[edit]

Gambhira[edit]

The folk dance/theater of Gambhira originated among the Hindu community of Maldah in West Bengal. After Partition of India, Chapai Nawabganj in Rajshahi became the main center of Gambhira. With time, Gambhira has undergone many changes in terms of theme and style of its presentation. Muslims also became the custodian of the dance, and thereby it became an integral part of their culture. May be for that reason the dancer now wears the Lungi. Gambhira comprises a few characters with dialogues in an atmosphere of music, its themes now being contemporary social problems, fakeness and selfishness of people and so on.

Kalikapatadi[edit]

The main story of this Bengali dance form is 'how Shiva calms down angry Kali after killing Asura. It is more prevalent in Howrah. Before the coronation of Shiva on Neelpuja Day (Chaitra Sankranti), the performance of this dance is a must. The green leaves of water hyacinth is used to make the hair of Kali and the black ash of Ganja to decorate the body. Clay mask is used for Mahadeva. Palm leaves reddened with Alta is used as the tongue of Kali. Participants go on fast for the whole day. The dance is being performed for nearly five-hundred years.

Nacnī[edit]

Female performers who sing and dance professionally in rural areas, accompanied by male ḍhulkī and nagarā drummers.

Alkap[edit]

Alkap is a rural performance, popular in many places of Bengal, especially in Rajshahi, Maldah and Murshidabad districts, and the Rajmahal Hills in the state of Jharkhand. This is associated with the Gajan Festival of Shiva around the middle of April. The beginning of this form was in the late nineteenth century. It has no written script, but scenarios based on popular love stories, which the actors elaborate with extreme dialogues, breaking up for songs, dances and comic or satirical sketches called Kap. It is a composite performance comprising acting, dancing, singing and recitation. Each Alkap group consists of ten to twelve dancers, under the leadership of a 'Sorkar' or 'Guru'. The group includes two or three 'Chhokras', one or two lead singers called 'Gayen' or 'Gayok'. Also, there remain 'Dohars', the chorus called 'Gayokdol' and instrumentalists called 'Bajnadars'. Alkap performances take place at night on an open stage.

Domni[edit]

Domni belongs to Maldah in West Bengal. A Domni performance starts with a Vandana[disambiguation needed] dedicated to God. Then the 'Mool Gayen' (Lead Character/Protagonist) and 'Chhokras' (Supporting Characters) offer devotional prayers. The dance performances of the Chhokras are called 'Nachari' or 'Lachari'. The main characters are the roles of husbands, wives, mothers, greedy moneylenders, peasant- girls and so on. The plays are composed taking extracts from small events of everyday life and are presented in a satirical manner. The musical instruments are Harmonium, Dholak, Kartal, Flute and so on. Domni groups are found in Maldah. With change on social life and popular taste/culture, this folk form is becoming extinct.

Others[edit]

Ghoomar (Rajasthan, Haryana)[edit]

Women dressed in multi-hued skirts swirl gracefully in a circle during this lively dance. Ghoomar is performed by young women and girls during various festivities like Holi, Gangaur Puja, Teej, etc. In Rajasthan, Ghoomar is performed to the songs of valor and victory. In Haryana, the songs sung for Ghoomar are high-pitched and rich in humor and satire

Koli (Maharashtra and Goa)[edit]

The dance derives its name from the fisher folk of western Maharashtra and Goa - Kolis, who are noted for their distinct identity and lively dances. Their dances incorporate elements they are most familiar with - the sea and their occupation of fishing. The dance is performed by both men and women - divided into two groups. The smaller group of men and women, in pairs, enact the main story of the dance - where the Kolin or fisherwoman makes advances to the Koli or fisherman. The larger group, also in pairs, forms the backdrop for the story, dancing in a looped movement that depicts the rowing of a fishing boat on undulating waves. Especially most of the dances and celebrations are devoted to "Sea God" for a better catch and protection.

Padayani (Kerala)[edit]

Padayani or Padeni in colloquial speech is one of the most colorful and spectacular folk arts associated with the festivals of certain temples in southern Kerala (Aleppey, Quilon, Pathanamthitta, and Kottayam districts). The word Padayani literally means military formations or rows of army, but in this folk art we have mainly a series of divine and semi-divine impersonations wearing huge masks or kolams of different shapes, colors and designs painted on the stalks of areca nut fronds. The most important of the kolams usually presented in a Padayani performance are Bhairavi (Kali), Kalan (god of death), Yakshi (fairy), Pakshi (bird) etc. The Kolam consists primarily of a huge headgear with many projections and devices with a mask for the face or a chest piece to cover the breast and abdomen of the performer. The whole performance consisting of the dancers or actors who wear the kolams, the singers who recite a different poem for each Kolam, and the instrumentalists who evoke wild and loud rhythm on their simple drum called Thappu and Cymbals, etc., takes the form of a procession of Kali and her spirits returning after the killing of the Asura chief Darika.

North India[edit]

Kathak[edit]

Kathak (Hindi: कथक, Urdu: کتھک) is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dances, originated from northern India. This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or story tellers. These bards, performing in village squares and temple courtyards, mostly specialized in recounting mythological and moral tales from the scriptures, and embellished their recitals with hand gestures and facial expressions. It was quintessential theatre, using instrumental and vocal music along with stylized gestures, to enliven the stories. The structure of a conventional Kathak performance tends to follow a progression in tempo from slow to fast, ending with a dramatic climax. A short danced composition is known as a tukra, a longer one as a toda. There are also compositions consisting solely of footwork. Often the performer will engage in rhythmic 'play' with the time-cycle, splitting it into triplets or quintuplets for example, which will be marked out on the footwork, so that it is in counterpoint to the rhythm on the percussion. All compositions are performed so that the final step and beat of the composition lands on the 'sam' or first beat of the time-cycle. Most compositions also have 'bols' (rhythmic words) which serve both as mnemonics to the composition and whose recitation also forms an integral part of the performance. Some compositions are aurally very interesting when presented this way. The bols can be borrowed from tabla (e.g. dha, ge, na, tirakiTa) or can be a dance variety (ta, thei, tat, ta ta, tigda, digdig and so on).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]