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Mujra is a dance performance by females in a format that emerged in South Asia.

Background and history[edit]

It combines elements of the native classical Kathak dance with native music including thumris and ghazals. It also includes poems from other Mughal periods like the emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar's ruling period. 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. In Lahore's Heera Mandi neighbourhood, the profession was a cross between art and exotic dance, with the performers often serving as courtesans amongst Mughal royalty or wealthy patrons. "The wealthy even sent their sons to the salons of tawaifs, high-class courtesans that have been likened to Japanese geishas, to study etiquette."[1] 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."

Present day[edit]

Modern Mujra dancers perform at events like weddings, birthday and bachelor parties in countries where traditional Mughal culture is prevalent, such as India and Pakistan . To a lesser extent, dancers in India and Pakistan often perform a modern form of mujra along with popular local music.[2]

Bollywood and Lollywood[edit]

Mujra has been depicted in Bollywood films like Pakeezah,Umrao Jaan (1981 film), Zindagi Ya Toofan (1958) and Devdas (1955 film), 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.

In Pakistan's Lollywood films like Anjuman (1970 film), one can see many mujra dances being performed before the movie is over.[3]

India and Pakistan[edit]

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, and Karachi of Pakistan. Dawn newspaper, Karachi, describes Lahore's Heera Mandi area as, "Pakistan's oldest red light district was for centuries, a hub of traditional erotic dancers, musicians and prostitutes."[1] Most women hope for an international dance career or South Asian dance career at a film studio.

Mujra in the Marathi and Hindi/Urdu languages means:

  • Attendance.
  • Caused to run or to flow.
  • Payment of respects.[4]
  • Musical performance by a dancing-girl.
  • Allowance.
  • Salutation.
  • To salute deferentially.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b, 'How Facebook is killing Lahore's Heera Mandi', Dawn newspaper, Published 23 August 2016, Retrieved 2 February 2017
  2. ^ John Caldwell, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, [1], Southeast Review of Asian Studies Volume 32 (2010), pp. 120-8, Retrieved 2 February 2017
  3. ^, Watch 'Mujra dances' being performed in Pakistani film Anjuman (1970 film) on YouTube, Retrieved 2 February 2017
  4. ^ Devendra Fadnavis [@Dev_Fadnavis] (14 May 2014). "'Manacha Mujra' to Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj on His Jayanti today" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External links[edit]