Traditional dances of Himachal Pradesh

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The traditional dances of Himachal Pradesh are varied and complicated. These dances are a vital part of tribal life. It reflects the culture and the tradition of Himachal. Hardly any festivity there is celebrated without dancing. Dance forms such as Nati are performed all over the region.


Nati is the most famous dance of Himachal Pradesh. It is listed in the Guinness world record book as the largest folk dance. It mainly originated from Sirmaur district and became popular across the state and in Chandigarh where Himachali youth performed this on cultural programmes in colleges and universities. Nati is performed on important occasions such as marriages.

Mala (Garland)[edit]

The Kayang Mala dance another dance. Dancers dress in traditional finery, weave their arms together to form a sort of a crisscross pattern in order to appear like beads in a woven garland. They drink chhang (a rice brew) before this dance.

Demon (Rakshasa)[edit]

This dance from Kinnaur and nearby areas are redolent of the historic period. The Kinnaur folk are compared to deer. The dance is performed with demon masks. It represents the attack of the demons on the crops and their ritual pursuing away by the forces of good.[1] Chhambha is more or less similar to the Punjabi dance Bhangra. These dance forms are generally organised in areas having dense population. During their local festivals like Chaitol and Bishu, such community dancing can be witnessed. Men and women hold hands and dance together. Their leader is known as Ghure.

Dalshone and Cholamba[edit]

The Dalshone and Cholamba dance forms belong to the Ropa valley. The pattern formed by the dancers seems to resemble coiled serpents. Cholamba is generally performed when a tiger is killed. The dead animal's skin is stuffed and a gold ornament is put in his nose. The remains of the corpse is then rotated and people dance around it.
Nagas Kayang is a dance form that copies the snake's movement. The Herki Kayang is faster in rhythm and is generally danced at romantic occasions. The dance is performed by young men and women.
The Shuna Kayang is danced in most villages. Its rhythm combines both slow and fast movements. This represents scenes from village and forest life.

Shand and Shabu[edit]

These are the most popular dances of the Lahaul valley and are generally danced at Buddhist Gompas in the memory of the Buddha. Shan means a prayer for Buddha. Dances to these prayers are termed Shan dances. This tribal dance is performed after the completion of the harvest. Instruments include drums, shehnai and a stringed instrument like a violin.
A similar dance form known as Shabbo is also performed at festivals. It represents the beliefs and lifestyle of the tribal people. These dance forms are linked to the local festivals.

Tribal dances[edit]

The Keekali dance form is a dance of young girls. The girls hold each other's hand crosswise and rotate swiftly on their toes.
The Bhangra is a male dance which originated in the Punjab and is also performed in some areas of Una.
The dance forms of the trans-Himalayan region differs in content and music. The old tradition of both song and dance in these regions is guarded against urban influence. Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and Tehsils of Pangi and Bharmour of Chamba constitute this zone. Inhabitants are known as Kinnauras, Lahaulas, Spitians, Pangwals and Gaddis. Gujjars and many of these tribes have their own distinct traditions of folk dances, songs, dresses and ornaments.

Many ritual dances are performed by Lamas on festive occasions. One masked dance form mainly features an important event in the history of Himalayan Buddhism when Lamas effectively carried out a plan of executing King Langdarma. A special event for masked dances is the celebration of the birth of Padma Sambhava (who carried the message of Buddhism to Tibet.)[2]