We are known about the famous dance of India like Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Kathakali, Ghoomar, Mohiniyattam, and Kuchipudi. For this blog, I am gonna to give some glimpse about traditional folk dance from various states of India
There’s perhaps a no better way to explore the vast cultural landscape of India than through its folk song and dance. Each state and region offer a unique glimpse and taste into its way of life, rituals, and traditions. And the more you explore, the more you realize that although they all tell the same story, what’s truly magical is how different they still are from each other.
So, let’s take a walk through the various folk dances from various parts of India, and celebrate this country’s diverse visual poetry!
Rouff, Jammu, and Kashmir
Rouff is the traditional folk dance of Kashmir, performed solely by the women on festive occasions. The dancers split themselves into two rows and put their arms around the shoulders of the ones standing next to them. The dance involves simple footwork and is performed to a pleasant poetic song called the Chakri. The Rouf 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 springtime in beautiful costumes.
Rasleela, Uttar Pradesh
Rasleela is an ancient form of folk dance originating from the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh. Many of us will be familiar with Raslila which has been introduced to us through mythological stories in Bhagwad Gita. The Raslila was the act where Lord Krishna danced and sang with the Gopi’s on the banks of river Krishna in the Vrindavan region. This art form is particularly famous in western Uttar Pradesh and portrays the life tales of Krishna ranging from his childhood to his adolescence. This is also a popular folk dance in Manipur.
Garba is the folk dance of Gujarat, now popular in its neighboring states too. The dance symbolizes a celebration of life. Usually performed around a clay lantern, the dancers honor the Goddess Durga, the feminine representation of divinity. Garba is always performed in a circle (as a metaphor for the cyclic nature of time). In modern times, the Garba that is performed is heavily influenced by the Dandiya Raas, thus giving it the high energy, it is known for. The elaborate costumes of the dancers (especially, women) also make Garba a treat for the eyes!
Bihu is a fast-paced, extremely joyful dance, hailing from the state of Assam. It is performed by young girls and boys during the festivals of Bihu, Assam’s three important agricultural festivals. The dance is performed to a twin-faced drum, with one end played with a stick and the other with the palm. A Bihu performance is usually pretty long and is full of exciting changes in rhythm, mood, movements, pace, tempo, and improvisation. Dance forms in India know no boundaries of caste and creed as they depict oneness of the nation. They may have originated in different states of the country but all of them symbolize the joy and liveliness of a certain event. Bihu is a popular folk dance associated with the state of Assam in India and it is performed generally during the Bihu festival. There are primarily three Bihu festivals that are popular in Assam namely Rongali Bihu, Kongali Bihu and Bhogali Bihu and the Bihu dance is performed during the Rongali Bihu.
Lavani is a genre of music popular in Maharashtra. Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which particularly performed to the beats of Dholki, a percussion instrument. Lavani is noted for its powerful rhythm. Lavani has contributed substantially to the development of Marathi folk theatre. In Maharashtra and southern Madhya Pradesh and North Karnataka, it is performed by the female performers wearing nine-yard long saris. The songs are sung in a quick tempo.
There are two types of Lavani performances – Phadachi Lavani (enacted in a public space, a theatrical atmosphere) and Baithakachi Lavani (performed in a closed space to a select audience, and mostly while sitting down). Lavani dancers wear bright and decadent looking Navvari sarees, tie their hair in a tight bun and are adorned in stunning jewelry. A Lavani performance usually chronicles the story and elements of a man-woman relationship.
Raut Nacha, Chhattisgarh
The Raut Nacha dance is performed by the Yadava/Yaduvanshi tribe of Chhattisgarh. The Yadavas are considered to be direct descendants of Lord Krishna. The dance is performed during the ‘Dev Udani Ekadashi’ – considered to be a time when the Gods awaken from their brief rest. The dance highlights the battle fought between the King Khansa and cowherd community of Yadavas, who emerge victorious, being blessed by Lord Krishna himself. This dance is a celebration of victory over all evils.
Ghumura is an ancient folk-dance originating from Odisha. Ancient mythological texts suggest that Ghumura was a war dance of the Gods and Demons. Over the course of time, Ghumurawas imbibed into performing arts and entertainment in Odisha. Dancers gather at temples or around their deities such as Manikeswari, Lankeswari, and Raktambari, during the festival of Dussehra to perform this dance. This dance is mostly performed by males.
Puli Kali, Kerala
Performed during Onam, Kerala’s harvest festival, Puli Kali is a visual art in almost every aspect. Artists and dancers paint their bodies as tigers and hunters and dance to the beat of musical instruments like the Udukku and Thakil. It takes place on the fourth day of Onam, and people and performers attend and participate in the festival in huge numbers. Over the course of time, the costumes, the paintings, and the body art have become more vivid, vibrant and colorful, and are an awe-inspiring sight to behold!
Matki Dance, Madhya Pradesh
Matkidance originates from the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. This is a solo dance performed by women on special occasions such as birthdays, festivals, weddings, etc. The performer dances with a Matki (clay pot) on top of her head (often more than one, and sometimes even a dozen!. The dance involves intricate dance moves in colorful costumes, which only adds to the elegant beauty of this dance.
Dollu Kunitha, Karnataka
Dollu Kunitha is a folk dance performed in the temples of Beereshwara or Beeralingeswara, in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Dollu is a musical instrument, much like the drum, that is hung from the temple ceiling. Every time a worship is made, there’s instantaneous beating of the Dollu accompanied by swift and supple dancing. The dance requires immense upper body strength, muscle power, and endurance. The men stand in a semi-circle and move to the beat of the cymbal played by the leader of the group. The rhythms alternate between fast and slow and the men perform some really quick and intricately woven dance moves.