Folk dance forms of India

Folk dance forms of India
Highlights

Folk dances are the various tribal and religious dances performed on various harvest occasions and other festive seasons. There are more than a 100 folk dances in our country which add vibrancy and colour to our diverse nation. 

Folk dances are the various tribal and religious dances performed on various harvest occasions and other festive seasons. There are more than a 100 folk dances in our country which add vibrancy and colour to our diverse nation.

Not only that some of the folk dances have a satirical take on various social issues and some are intent on spreading social or political messages by the means of their act.

Gaur dance
Gaur means Bison, and in this dance, the dancers mimic the movements of a ferocious bison such as charging, tossing of horns, hurling wisps of grass into the air etc. This dance is performed in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh.

Pandavani dance
Pandavani dance and music is a folk singing style of musical narration of tales from ancient epic Mahabharata with musical accompaniment and Bhima as hero. It is a folk dance of Chhattisgarh. Teejan Bai is a known Pandavani artist.

Chhau dance
Chhau means a mask. Chhau dance probably originated as a martial art, and performers, apart from a mask, hold swords and shields and performing vigorous movements and leaps. This is a popular dance in Odisha, Bihar and Bengal.

The stages are decorated and brightly lit by torches, lanterns and flickering oil lamps. The musical instruments used are the Dhol, Nagara and Shehnai. The themes often revolve around mythological heroes and warriors from the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Jatra dance
Jatra dance is a folk dance of West Bengal & Bangladesh. The name literally means ‘going’ or ‘journey’. It is performing art combining acting, songs, music and dance. The dance form developed from ceremonial functions conducted before setting out on a journey such as the processions brought out in honour of various deities.

Bidesia dance
It is a popular form of dance drama prevalent in the Bhojpuri-speaking region of Bihar. Bhikari Thakur is believed to be the creator of these dramas. It dealt with many social issues, contradictory topics & conflict between the traditional and the modern, the urban and rural, and the rich and the poor.

In Bidesia, the female roles are also played by the male actor-dancers. The plays and style of theatre is very popular for their rhythmic language, sweet songs and appealing music.

Bihu dance
Bihu is a popular folk dance of Assam. It is an integral part of the Bihu festival in April performed after crop harvest.

Young men and girls perform the Bihu dance together to the accompaniment of drums and pipes. Love forms the subject matter of the songs that are sung during the performance. The dances are performed in circles or parallel rows.

Jat-Jatin dance
It is one of the most admired folk dances of North Bihar (including the Mithila and Koshi region). It is normally performed in a couple.

The original theme of the dance explains the story of the lovers Jat and Jatin, who were separated and living in difficult situations.

But now through many social situations are also discussed like natural calamities situation like droughts and floods. Many socially concern topics like poverty, sorrow, love; all find its expression in this dance.

Cheraw dance
Cheraw is also known as Bamboo Dance. It is a folk dance of Mizoram, in which the dancers move by stepping alternately in and out of the pairs of horizontal bamboos. Thus, a grid of bamboo poles is an integral part of this dance.

The performers tap the bamboos open and closed in; they tap the bamboos open and closed in rhythmic beats. The dancers step in and out of the squares formed by the bamboos with ease and grace.

The pattern and stepping of the dance resemble the movements of birds, swaying of trees

Dumhal dance
Dumhal dance is performed by the men folk of the Wattal tribe of Kashmir. This dance is performed with long colourful robes, tall conical caps.

Dumhal dance is accompanied by songs which the performers themselves sing. Performers of this dance place a banner into the ground at a fixed location. They begin to dance around this banner.

Kariyala dance
It is a popular art form of Himachal Pradesh. The plays celebrate local traditions of dress, worship, and morality, by telling stories of ordinary life using a range of familiar characters.

Music, dance, and satirical humour enliven the performances, which sometimes last all night. There is also a religious element with a chorus that sings praises to the gods.

This form of shows present sharp and pungent satires about the bureaucracy and social issues very boldly.

Bhangra dance
Bhangra is a form of dance-oriented folk music that has now evolved into a pop sensation. It is the folk dance of the agriculturist class of Punjab.

Traditionally this dance is associated with the harvesting season and was performed on a full moon day. People sing Boliyaan (lyrics or couplets) in the Punjabi language.

Dhol is an integral part of Bhangra. Bhangra has eventually become a part of social occasions including weddings Gidda Dance Gidda is a female counterpart of the Bhangra, performed by women and girls.

Langvir dance
Langvir nritya is a folk dance form of Uttarakhand. The acrobatic dance movements are performed only by males. Dancer climbs a pole and balances himself on his navel on the top of the pole.

To the accompaniment of drum beats and music, he balances skilfully and rotates on his belly, performing several acrobatic stunts.

Garba dance
The word Garba comes from the Sanskrit word for womb and so implies gestation or pregnancy - life. Traditionally, the dance is performed around a clay lantern with a light inside, called a Garbha Deep.

This lantern represents life; the fetus in the womb in particular. The dancers thus honor Durga, the feminine form of divinity.

Garba is performed in a circle as a symbol of the Hindu view of time. The rings of dancers revolve in cycles, as time in Hinduism is cyclical.

As the cycle of time revolves, from birth, to life, to death and again to rebirth, the only thing that is constant is the Goddess, that one unmoving symbol in the midst of all of this unending and infinite movement.

The dance symbolises that God, represented in feminine form in this case, is the only thing that remains unchanging in a constantly changing universe (jagat).

The Garbha Deep has another symbolic interpretation. The vessel itself is a symbol of the body, within whom Divinity (in the form of the Goddess) resides.

Garba is danced around this symbol to honor the fact that all humans have the Divine energy of Devi within them.

Garba is now being appreciated worldwide
Recently Garba dance was in news for the controversy surrounding it in Gujarat with some factions wanting it to be a festival for Hindus only and, muslims were to be kept away from it

Ghoomar dance
Ghoomar is a folk dance of Rajasthan and is characteristic dance of the Bhils. It is a community dance performed by groups of women on auspicious occasions. The name is derived from the word ghoomna (pirouetting).

Kalbelia dance
Kalbelia dance is performed by the womenfolk hailing from the Kalbelia (friends of death) community in Rajasthan. They pursue the centuries-old profession of catching snakes and trading snake venom.

The dance movements and the costumes have an uncanny resemblance to the slithery creatures. Kalbelia dance has been included in UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list.

Bhavai Dance in Rajasthan, this spectacular dance form consists of veiled women dancers balancing nearly seven or nine brass pitchers as they dance dexterously, pirouetting and swaying with the soles of their feet perched on top of a glass or on the edge of a sword.

Gulabo sapera was awarded padmashri for her contributions in the field of art as the creator of the kalbeliya or the serpent dance.

Nati-Folk dance
Nati in Himachal Pradesh is one of the folk dances of india. Mainly celebrated with the Losai or the New Year Festival, Nati as a Performing Art in Himachal Pradesh has a languid yet abstract sequence.

Much like the slowly swaying trees, soft hilly breeze and smoothly flowing rivers, this dance too reflects the languid elegance of Himachal Pradesh.

Nati folk dance recently entered Guinness book of world records as the largest folk dance in the world.

Karakattam dance
It is an ancient folk dance of Tamil Nadu performed in praise of the rain goddess Mariamman. The performers balance a pot on their head.

Traditionally, this dance is categorised into two types- Aatta Karakam is danced with decorated pots on the head and symbolises joy and happiness. It is mainly performed to entertain the audience. The Sakthi Karakam is performed only in temples as a spiritual offering.

The pots are decorated in many ways with the help of attractive flower arrangements, topped by a moving paper parrot. The parrot rotates as the dancer moves.

When men perform this dance, they balance the pots filled with uncooked rice, surrounded by a tall conical bamboo frame decorated with colourful flowers.

Drums and long pipes form the musical instruments that add vigor to the dance. They also dance standing over a plate i.e. rim of the plate, filled with water, without spilling water out of the plate while balancing the karakam on their head.

Most expert artistes are from the regions of Karakattam is also very popular in countries with significant Tamil minorities such as Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Raut Nacha
Is a dance performed by /yaduvanshis, a caste that consider themselves to be descendants of lord Krishna. For them it is as a symbol of worship to Krishna.

They perform the dance at the time of 'dev udhni ekadashi'. It is believed that it is time of awakening of Gods after brief rest according to Hindu panhcang (calendar). The dance is a close resemblance of Krishna's dance or raas leela.

‘Dhol Dholak Cholam’,
It is a drum dance featuring Holi . The drummers performed intricate rhythms while executing ‘Cholam’, graceful and dynamic body movements.

Puli Kali
("Puli" = tiger & "Kali" = Play) is a colorful recreational folk art from the Kerala state. It is performed by trained artists to entertain people on the occasion of onam, an annual harvest festival celebrated mainly in the Indian state of Kerala.

On the fourth day of onam celebrations (Nalaam Onam), performers painted like tigers and hunters in bright yellow, red, and black dance to the beats of instruments like Udukku and Thakil.

Literal meaning of Pulikali is the 'play of the tigers' hence the performance revolves around the theme of tiger hunting. The folk art is mainly practiced in Thrissur. Best place to watch the show is on the fourth day of onam,

where Pulikali troupes from all over the district assemble to display their skills. The festival attracts thousands of people to the city. Pulikali is also performed during various other festive seasons.

The government of India currently follows the following criteria to determine the eligibility of language to be considered for classification as “classical language”:

High antiquity of its early texts/ recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.

A body of ancient literature/ texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.

The literary tradition is original and not borrowed from another speech community.

The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

It is worth noting that a question on classical languages appeared in 2014 and 2015. The questions are as follows
Consider the following languages:
1) Gujarati 2) Kannada 3) telugu

Which of the following has been declared classical languages by the government?
a) 1 and 2 only b) 3 only b) 2 and 3 only c) 1, 2, and 3
The correct answer is option c

Which of the following was given the classical language status recently?
a) Odia
b) Konkani
c) Bhojpuri
d) Assamese
The correct answer is option a

By:Balalatha Mallavarapu
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