The Tradition of Folk Dances in 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.
In the numerous villages and towns of India, folk dances are performed during celebrations such as on special occasions, wish fulfillment, harvest, festivals or religious ceremonies.
It is a time when people come together and indulge in an art form which is traditional and in their blood.
Folk 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.
India is blessed with a rich cultural heritage and the folk dances of India celebrate this culture in the best possible way.
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 childbirth, 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
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.
List of Famous Traditional Indian Folk Dances
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. While dancing, the women clap their hands and
The 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 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 and 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 side, they move round in circles.
During the dance, dancers take various positions such as standing, sitting, etc. Dandiya raas becomes extremely
Mando Dance, Goa – Among the various folk dances of Goa such as Jagar, Dekhni and Suvari, etc, the Mando is quite well known. A semi-urban folk dance, the Mando is performed at a speed that progresses gradually.
Folk Dances of North India
Rouf Dance, Jammu & Kashmir – The Rouf is Kashmir’s springtime dance. While performing the Rouf, the performers split themselves
During the dance, the performers bond with their fellow dancers by placing their arms around their shoulders on both sides. Next, the two rows of dancers move in the backward as well as forward direction.
Dumhal Dance, Kashmir – The Dumhal is a 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 procession 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
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 and 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 “
Raas, Himachal Pradesh – In the Kulu district of HP, the
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 “
Folk Dances of East India
Bamboo Dance, Mizoram – Also known as “Cheraw”, the Bamboo dance is one of the most popular and loved dance of the people of Mizoram. The use of bamboo sticks is an essential part of this dance form.
While some dancers place the bamboo sticks horizontally on the ground and move them, the other dancers step across and between the sticks in an “in and out motion”.
The sticks produce a clapping sound, producing an interesting sound. To perform this dance, practice, skills and alertness are very important.
The women dancers place pots on their heads and dance to a slow tempo. Slowly, men dancers also join in and the tempo increases towards the end of the dance.
Karma or Munda Dance, Bihar – Performed by men and women together, the Karma dance is a traditional folk dance of Bihar. After planting the trees, the dancers dance in circles around the trees.
Bihu Dance, Assam – The Bihu dance is a very popular and loved folk dance of Assam. A part of the Bihu festival, this dance is performed by young boys and girls who form separate groups and perform the dance in the open. The Bihu dance takes place after harvesting has been completed.
Vrita or Brita Dance, West Bengal – A popular folk dance from Bengal, the Brita dance is performed by women in the rural areas to ask for God’s blessings.
While some women perform this dance after recovering from a serious illness, others do it after wish fulfillment.
Kali Dance or Kali Naach – As the name signifies, the Kali Nach is performed to
Dalkhai Dance, Orissa – Native to the Sambalpur district of Orissa, the ‘Dalkhai’ dance is performed by women while the men add
Folk Dances of South India
Kuttiyattam Dance, Kerala – The theme of the Kuttiyattam dance is mythology. Kuttiyattam means acting together and that is the essence of this traditional dance form.
The stage is taken over by 2-3 performers who recite verses in Sanskrit language.
Kummi Dance, Tamil Nadu – Danced by women, the Kummi dance has its roots in Tamil Nadu. The women come together in a circle and dance while clapping their hands.
Dollu Kunitha Dance, Karnataka – Also known as the “Drum Dance”, the Dollu Kunitha is a popular folk dance from Karnataka. During the dance, men beat the drums which they carry around their neck. The drum is highly decorated and is used to play strong beats.
Some of the other Tribal dances from South of India include Dandaria Dance, Karagam Dance, etc.