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Indian Folk Art - Culture and Tradition of India

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Tradition of Folk Dances in India - Famous Folk Dance from West India & North India


India's rich cultural diversity is evident from its beautiful tradition of Folk art. Folk dances of India are highly riveted and are extremely popular throughout the length and breadth of the country. This is because these dances rank high in simplicity while maintaining their superiority in expressions and concept. It is believed that folk dances of India are easier to understand, follow and even perform when compared with the traditional, Classical Dance Forms of India.

Folk Dances - An Expression of Celebration If we were to visit the numerous tiny villages of India, we would be amazed to find that folk dances are performed on almost every occasion - such as child birth, festivals, weddings, etc. Folk dances add to the jubilation and provide an expression for happiness and hope. Music is another important element that adds additional flavour to these dances.

Connection with Roots - Coming Together Folk dances provide a common ground for people to come together and connect with one another. Celebrating their lives and culture together provides a unique opportunity to keep their traditions alive. While performing folk dances, the dancers dress up in their traditional costumes and beautiful, elaborate jewellery. The air is one of happiness, rejuvenation, togetherness and excitement.

Let's take a look at some traditional folk dances of India -

1. Folk Dances of West India -

  • Garba Dance, Gujrat - The Garba dance is extremely well known and is performed by women in Gujrat, especially during the Navratras. The women dance in circles while holding earthen pots on their heads. They clap their hands and click their fingers. A burning oil lamp placed within the pot signifies embryonic life.
  • Jawar Dance, Madhya Pradesh - This harvest dance is a favourite of the farmers, especially in Madhya Pradesh's Bundelkhand region. After reaping a good harvest, farmers rejoice by performing this dance. The women are known to carry baskets of jawar on their heads while dancing to the tune of several musical instruments, percussion instruments & stringed instruments
  • Bhagoriya Dance, Madhya Pradesh - The Bhils tribe of MP perform this lyrical dance, mainly during the Indian festival of Holi.
  • Dandiya Dance, Gujrat - Men and women perform the dandiya dance together. The most distinguishing feature of this dance is that dancers hold sticks in their hands and while beating these sticks on their own and with other dancers on either sides, they move round in circles. During the dance, dancers take various positions such as standing, sitting etc. Dandiya raas becomes extremely colourful when the dancers dress up in multi colored outfits.
  • Mando Dance, Goa - Among the various folk dances of Goa such as Jagar, Dekhni and Suvari, etc, the Mando is quite well known. Known as a semi-urban folk dance, the Mando is performed at a speed that progresses gradually

2. Folk Dances of North India -

  • Rouf Dance, Jammu & Kashmir - The Rouf is Kashmir's springtime dance. While performing the Rouf, the performers split themselves in two groups and stand in their respective rows, while facing one another. During the dance, the performers bond with their fellow dancers by placing their arms around their shoulders on both sides. Next, the two row of dancers move in the backward as well as forward direction.
  • Dumhal Dance, Kashmir - The Dumhal is well known dance form which is performed in Kashmir, primarily by the men of the Wattal tribe. Musical instruments such as the drum add music to the dance. What is fascinating to note is that the dance performers walk together as part of a procesion wearing long robes and conical caps with a banner in their hands. Once the banner is dug into the ground, the men begin dancing in a circle.
  • Bhangra Dance, Punjab - The Bhangra is a vivacious, robust and extremely popular dance of Punjab which is performed during the festival of Baisakhi. This dance form is quite vigorous in nature and is performed primarily by men. The beats of the drums and the dholak add vibrancy to this dance. While doing the Bhangra, a signature step is to raise the leg and raise both hands up in the air.

  • Mali Dance, Rajasthan - The Mali dance is native to the state of Rajasthan & is performed by women on the occasion of marriage while welcoming & receiving the bridegroom's party. The dexterity with which the women balance burning brass pots on their heads while jumping & squatting is truly fascinating.
  • Tera Tali Dance, Rajasthan - Tera Tali is a Rajasthani folk dance which is performed by female dancers. During the dance performance, the music and voice is provided by the male singers. While balancing beautifully decorated pots on their heads, the dancers hold a sword between their teeth and strike a variety of different poses. They also play cymbals using their hands. The beauty of the dance is further increased when the women cover their faces with thin veils.
  • Gidda Dance, Punjab - Just as the Bhangra is Punjab's most important male dance, the Gidda is performed by female dancers. It is a graceful & energetic dance, a form of ring dancing. During the course of the dance, the women break into semi circles and the dance is accompanied by "boliyan" or folk couplets.
  • Raas, Himachal Pradesh - In the Kulu district of HP, the raas is quite popular. It depicts love stories of human beings and is performed during the festival of Dussehra. Raas is also a dance of Gujrat.
  • Ghoomar Dance, Rajasthan - Lively, energetic and highly enjoyable, the Ghoomar dance derives its name from its basic form that is "Ghoomna" or twirling in circles. Performed by men and women together, the Ghoomar dance is known for its measured movements. The veiled women wear beautiful and colorful "ghagaras" or skirts which add a new dimension to the dance.

Folk Dances of South & East India




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