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Mujra is a form of dance created by tawaif (courtesans) during the Mughal era. It combines elements of the native classical Kathak dance with native music including thumris and ghazals. It also includes poems from other Mughal regions like Bahadur Shah Zafar.[1] Mujra was traditionally performed at mehfils and in special houses called kothas. During Mughal rule in the subcontinent, in places such as Jaipur, the tradition of performing mujra was a family art and often passed down from mother to daughter. The profession was a cross between art and exotic dance, with the performers often serving as courtesans amongst Mughal royalty or wealthy patrons. As a musical genre, mujras historically reconstruct an aesthetic culture of sixteenth- to nineteenth-century South Asia in which heightened musical and dance entertainment afforded a medium for exchange between one woman and many men — what ethnomusicologist Regula Qureshi calls "an asymmetry of power that is tempered with gentility."

Fall of Mujra[edit]

Mujra is a form of dance originated by tawaif (courtesans) during the Mughal era. It incorporated elements of the native classical Kathak dance into music such as Thumris and Ghazals, or poems of those from other Mughal cultures such as Bahadur Shah Zafar. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, mujra performances provided an opportunity for mutineers to meet and many tawaif were also actively involved in the movement. As a result, many kothas were confiscated by the British crackers after the mutiny.[2] By the early 1900s, Many tawaif had moved into the prostitution industry as the traditional system had broken down. Some tawaif moved to the film and music industry.

Present day[edit]

Modern Mujra dancers perform at events like weddings, birthday events and bachelor parties in countries where traditional Mughal culture is prevalent, such as Pakistan and North India, but in a lesser extent in India often performing a modern form of mujra along with popular local music.


Mujra has been depicted in Bollywood films like Umrao Jaan and Devdas, or in other films that show the past Mughal rule and its culture. The dance is upscaled and taught with more dance choreography to make the female dancer more fluent in her moves and to be more artistic and feminine. The women are usually the center of the public eye and can dance and entertain the audience for a long time. She can scare off men and women with her stylish but bold dancing to keep the audience entertained all night.[3]

India and Pakistan[edit]

In the city of Agra, India, it is a tradition for every man to learn mujra. The city is famous for this. In 2005, when dance bars were closed across Maharashtra state, many former bar girls moved to Congress House near Kennedy Bridge on Grant Road area in Mumbai, the city's oldest hub for mujra, and started performing mujra. The women are trained in mujra in Agra, India and Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi of Pakistan. Most women hope for an international dance career or South Asian dance career by a film studio who, having lots of fans, can view them on the television professionally.


It is safe for the mujra dancers to perform in a professional and healthy way.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shailaja Tripathi (May 29, 2002). "'I want to recreate that era of the mujra'". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2008. 
  2. ^ Hollow bodies: institutional responses to sex trafficking in Armenia, Bosnia ... - Susan Dewey - Google Boeken. 2008. p. 148. ISBN 9781565492653. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Hottest Bollywood mujras". The Hindustan Times. March 5, 2012. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ "It's time for mujra re for bar girls". The Times of India. November 1, 2005. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  • Margaret Edith Walker: Kathak Dance - A Critical History, PhD dissertation, University of Toronto, 2004

Further reading[edit]