List of Indian folk dances
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Indian folk and tribal dances are simple dances, and are performed to express joy and happiness among themselves. 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.
- 1 Arunachal Pradesh
- 2 Assam
- 3 Bihar
- 4 Chhattisgarh
- 5 Goa
- 6 Gujarat
- 7 Himachal Pradesh
- 8 Haryana
- 9 Karnataka
- 10 Jammu and Kashmir
- 11 Jharkhand
- 12 Kerala
- 13 Madhya Pradesh
- 14 Maharashtra
- 15 Meghalaya
- 16 Mizoram
- 17 Nagaland
- 18 Odisha
- 19 Puducherry
- 20 Punjab
- 21 Rajasthan
- 22 Sikkim
- 23 Tamil Nadu
- 24 Telangana
- 25 Tripura
- 26 Uttar Pradesh
- 27 West Bengal
- 28 See also
- 29 References
- Bardo Chham is 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 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.
- Bagurumba is a folk dance performed by women of the indigenous Bodo tribe in Assam and Northeast India. It is accompanied by musical instruments such as the kham (a long drum, made of wood and animal skin), sifung (flute), jota (made of iron/tama), serja (a bowed instrument, made of wood and animals skin), gongwna (made of bamboo), and tharkha (a piece of split bamboo).
- The Bihu dance is a folk dance related to the festival of Bihu. It is performed by both young men and women, and is characterised by brisk dance steps, and rapid hand movement. The instruments used are the dhol (drum), pepa (horn), baahi (flute) and gagana (an instrument made of bamboo). The clothing is also traditional: women wear mustard- and red-coloured mekhela chadors and the men wear a dhoti, a head-band similar colouring.
- Jhumair, also found in Bangladesh, is performed by young girls. They are also accompanied by a few men who maintain the rhythm with musical instruments and vocals.
- Bideshiya a form of dance drama which holds a unique place amongst folk dances from Bihar. It is believed to be created by Bhikhari Thakur, a person who was barber by profession and left everything for his passion of drama. Bidesia deals with social issues & conflict between the traditional and modern, the rich and the poor and delicate matters like emotional battles. In old days, Bidesia was famous as it gave voice to many social concerned topics like the cause of poor laborers and tried to create awareness about the poor status of women in Bhojpuri society. Sometimes, the tone of Bidesia is sarcastic but it uses vibrant dance moves and music with emotional stories.
- Domkach is performed by women during marriage in house of Bridegroom.
- Fagua is a special dance form and also a type of folk song which is sung and performed in the festival of Holi.
- Jat-Jatin is the most popular folk dance of North Bihar, especially in Mithila and Koshi region. It is performed by a pair of man and woman. Man goes to far-off place to earn livelihood. Jat-Jatin is a folk dance of the same emigrant husband accompanied by his spouse. Apart from poverty and sorrow, this dance reflects a rainbow of the sweet and tender quarrel as well as some complaints between husband and wife. The folk mocks to comfort the hurdles of life with a smile. The headlines of the lyrics is “ Tikwa-jab-jab Maugailion re jatwa - Tikwa kahe na lawle re ... ”
- Jhijhian sung when there is no rain for a long time. Through `Jhijhian` people try to portray drought where there is no rain. They pray to Lord Indra for rain. This dance is ritualistic in nature with the songs showing deep devotion to Lord Indra. The musicians are usually a lead singer and harmonium player with a drummer.
- Jhumri is another popular dance form of Bihar.It is very much similar to Garba of Gujrat.
- Kajari is a popular dance form in Bhojpuri speaking region of Bihar. It is often used to describe the longing of a maiden for her lover as the black monsoon cloud come hanging in the summer skies, and the style is notably sung during the rainy season.
- Painki - It is another popular dance form of Bihar. The dance reminds us of infantry and its agility, courage, and excitement. A flat ground is essential for its performance. This dance displays the skills & the ability of the dancers to handle these weapons.
- Sohar is mainly performed to celebrate the birth of a child. Sohar is also a type of folk song which is sung in order to praise the child and women dance on it.
- Raut Nacha is a traditional folk dance usually done by Yadavs (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 panchang (calendar). The dance is a close resemblance of Krishna's Raas leela (dance of lord with his village's girls called gopis) with gopis.
Fugdi is a Goan folk dance performed by the women in the Konkan region during Hindu religious festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Vrata or towards the end of other dances like Dhalo.
- Dandiya 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. 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, Raas Chaos, Garba With Attitude, Dandia on Fire and Maryland Masti among others.
- 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).
- The Tippani dance originated from the Chorwad region of Saurashtra. Labourer women take a wooden rod, sometimes tipped with iron at one end, to beat the floor.
- Other folk dances include the Padhar dance, Siddi Dhamal, Hudo, Matukadi, and Aagawa.
- Kolis of Saurashtra and Padhiyar also perform folk and classical dances.
Nati refers to the traditional dance of Sirmaur district Kullu and Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. The dance is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as largest folk dance. It is quite popular in whole Himachal Pradesh. Dance is also popular in Chandigarh where Himachali youth perform this on cultural programmes.This dance is also popular in jounsari community in uttrakhand.
- Charba dance normally performed during celebration of dussehra festival.
- Ceremonial and recreational
- Veeragase is a vigorous dance performed by women. Based on Hindu mythology, it involves intense energy-sapping movements and is performed during festivals mainly in the Hindu months of Shravana and Karthika
- Hulivesha is a powerful dance form performed by males in the coastal area of Karnataka. The dancers are painted like the tiger and performed like angry tiger.
Jammu and Kashmir
- Dumhal is a dance performed by men of the Wattal tribe on specific occasions. The performers wear long colourful robes and tall conical caps that are studded with beads and shells. The party moves in a procession carrying a banner in a ceremonial fashion. The banner is then dug into the ground and the men dance, forming a circle. The accompaniment comprises a drum and the singing of the participants. Dumhal is performed on set occasions and at set locations.
- Rauf The Rauf is a folk dance form which is mainly practiced by the women folk of the Kashmir valley. There are several folk dance forms which have particularly originated and flourished in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In this beautiful dance form, there are women who line up in two rows facing each other and perform this beautiful dance during the spring time in beautiful costumes.
- Jhumair is popular folk dance of Jharkhand. It is performed during harvest season and festival.
- Mardana Jhumair is Nagpuri folk dance mostly performed by men.
- Janani Jhumair is Nagpuri Folk dance mostly performed by women.
- Domkach folk dance is performed during marriage by bride groom family.
- Lahasua folk dance performed by both men and women accompanied by musical instruments Mandar, Dhol and Bansi.
- Painki is a Nagpuri ceremonial martial dance.
- Fagua is a folk dance performed during festival of Fagua or Holi.
- Chhau dance is a semi classical Indian dance with martial, tribal and folk traditions, with origins in the eastern Indian states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha. It is found in three styles named after the location where they are performed, i.e. the Purulia Chau of Bengal, the Seraikella Chau of Jharkhand, and the Mayurbhanj Chau of Odisha.
- Santali dance - Santali dance performed by Santal tribe.
- Mundari dance - Mundari dance performed by Munda tribe.
- Chakyar Koothu is primarily a highly refined monologue where the performer narrates episodes from Hindu epics (such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata) and stories from the Puranas. And sometimes, however, it is also a traditional equivalent of the modern stand-up comedy act, incorporating commentary on current socio-political events (and personal comments directed at the members of the audience).
- Duffmuttu (also known as Aravanmuttu or Arbanamuttu) is a dance form particular to the Muslim community of Kerala. The origin of Duffmutt can be traced back to the Arabs. It is still accompanied by Arabic music. The name Duffmuttu is attributed to the use of an instrument called duff or tap. Daff is a round percussion instrument with one side covered with hide and is used to produce rhythm.
- Margamkali is a very ancient and the most popular artistic performance prevalent among the Syrian Christians of Kerala. Margamkali is performed mainly by women on festive occasions, especially during the time of marriage.
- Oppana is a dance form specific to the Muslim community of Kerala. Oppana is usually a bridal group dance performed the day before the wedding day. It is a dance form essential to the wedding entertainment and festivities of the Muslims especially in the Malabar region of Kerala. Oppana is generally presented by young female relatives of the bride, who sing and dance around the bride clapping their hands.
- Padayani or Padeni in colloquial speech is one of the most colourful and spectacular folk arts associated with the festivals of certain temples in southern Kerala. 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.
- Theyyam, otherwise known as Kaliyattam, is a sacred ritual dance performed to glorify the goddess Kaali. The term 'Theyyam' is supposed to be the corrupt form of the Malayalam word 'Daivam', meaning God.
- Thirayattam, is a ritualistic performing ethnic art form of north Kerala. It blends dance, theatre, music, satire, facial painting, body painting, masking, martial art and ritualistic function. It has a great resemblance to the tradition and customs of the ancient civilization "Thirayattam". This divine ritualistic art form enacted in courtyards of "kaavukal" (sacred groves) and village shrines of south malabar (calicut & malappuram dt:)region in kerala state. 
- Thitambu Nritham is mainly performed by Nambudiris of North Kerala.
- The word 'Thullal' means 'Caper' or 'to leap or jump about playfully'. This art form emerged in the 18th century. A solo performance combining both dance and recitation, thullal is the explication of a tale - normally drawn from the Puranas, narrated in verse.
- Grida Dance - crops sway in the fields in the 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 - 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 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 and distinct folk-form.
- 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.
- The Phulpati dance is exclusively for semi-rural unmarried girls. The agriculturist class of Malwa is not very much inclined to any dance by nature but during the Holi festival revelers perform this to the uneven manipulation of drums.
- The Kamar tribe performs the Tertali, 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- Shad sukmysiem
- Shad nongkrem
- Do dru Sua
•Cheraw •Bamboo dance
- The Chang Lo (also known as Sua Lua) is a dance of the Chang tribe of Nagaland. It 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.
Chhau dance originated and performed in the Mayurbhanj District, Purulia District and Saraikela district and Nilagiri region of Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand respectively. It has its base in the martial arts tradition. The dance is a stylised 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.
The Gotipuas 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.
Baagh Naach or Tiger Dance
The Baagh Naach or Tiger 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.
Though Dusserah is the occasion of the Sambalpuri folk dance Dalkhai, it is often performed at other festivals such as Bhaijiuntia, Phagun Puni, and Nuakhai. It 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. The dhol player controls the tempo while dancing in front of the girls.
Dhap is a Sambalpuri folk dance 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.
The Sambalpuri folk dance called 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.
The Karma Naach folk dance of the Sambalpuri is performed during the period of worship of the god or goddess of fate (Karam Devta or Karamsani Devi), whom the people consider the cause of good and bad fortune. The worship lasts for several days from Bhadra Shukla Ekadasi, the eleventh day of the full moon in the month of Bhadra.
The Jhumair is a folk dance of North Odisha and Western Odisha. It is performed during harvest season and Festivals.
Only men can take part in the Keisabadi, a 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.
It is one of the most important dance performed in Odisha. This dance is dedicated to Lord Jagannath or Lord Vishnu. This dance also explains the love story of Lord Krishna and Radha.
- Garadi is a well-known dance of Puducherry. It is believed to have a 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.
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 Dhool, Chimta, Algoza 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.It is a mixture of many steps like dhamaal, jutti, Fulka, Sialkoti, Dankare, Jugni, Mirzi, Fumnian. Other folk dance of Punjab like Jhummar, Sammi, are included in Bhangra.
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 is a form of Giddha in which only male members participates.
Kikkli 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.
Ghoomar is a traditional women's folk dance of Rajasthan. 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 colours 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 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.
Ghodi and Kachchhi Ghodi is an Indian folk dance that originates from the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. Dancers wear novelty horse costumes and participate in mock fights while a singer narrates folk tales about local bandits. It is commonly performed during wedding ceremonies to welcome and entertain the bridegroom's party, and during other social settings.
Tera Tali is another famous folk dance of Rajasthan. Performed by the ‘Kamar‘ tribe. The women folk sit on the ground while performing the Tera Tali. Men? Well they just sing. An interesting part of the Tera Tali dance is tying of metal cymbals (Manjiras) to different parts of the body, mostly on the legs. On many occasions the women clasp a sword in between their teeth and balance a decorative pot on their head.
- 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.
Parai Attam or Thappattam
Parai Attam, or Thappattam, is a dance in which folks beat Parai and dance to its rhythm. It is one of the oldest traditional dances, originally performed for multiple reasons, ranging from warning people about the upcoming war, requesting the civilians to leave the battlefield, announcing victory or defeat, stopping a breach of water body, gathering farmers for farming activities, warning the wild animals about people's presence, during festivals, wedding, celebrations, worship of nature and so on.
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.
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
Karagattam or Karagam is a folk dance of Tamil country performed by villagers perform in praise of the rain goddess Mari Amman. The performers balance a 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 symbolises 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.
Mayil Attam or Peacock dance
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.
Paambhu attam or Snake Dance
The Paambhu attam or snake-dance 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.
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 and wear ankle bells.
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
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
Mayur Nritya or Peacock Dance
This is a folk dance from Brij region of Uttar Pradesh. 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. This dance is associated with Lord Krishna and Radha. It is considered that when Radharani wanted to see Mayur Nritya, Lord Krishna used to portray himself as a peacock and performs dance like Mayur.
This is a folk dance from Brij region of Uttar Pradesh. This is done by veiled women. They balance large multi-tiered circular wooden pyramids on their heads, alight with 108 oil lamps, dance to the strains of 'rasia' - songs of Lord Krishna. This dance is performed during various festivities in India.
The Rasleela is most popular form of folk dance of India, especially during the festivals of Krishna Janmashtami and Holi in the regions of Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. Rasa Lila is a popular form of folk theatre in the regions of Mathura, Vrindavana in Uttar Pradesh, especially during the festivals of Krishna Janmashtami and Holi, and amongst various followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism in the region. Raas Leela (Raax Mahotsav) is also observed as one of the State Festivals of Assam which usually is celebrated during Late November or Early December. During Raas Mahotsava, several thousand devotees visit the holy temples and Xatras of Assam every year.
- The folk dance/theatre 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.
- 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 is performed in Malda district. A Domni performance starts with a Vandana 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. With change on social life and popular taste/culture, this folk form is becoming extinct.
- Dhunachi is a dance performed in Bengal for the Durga Pooja at the time of Dussehra. Women and Men wear traditional Bengali dresses and dance with a mud pot filled with burnt coconut shavings. This is known as a tribute to Maa Durga.
- Jhumair: Jhumair is folk dance of Western parts of West Bengal performed during harvest season and festivals.
- Santali dance: Santali dance performed by Santal tribe.
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