ARAIYAR SEVAI DANCE, TAMIL NADU
Aaiyar Sevai are Vaishnavite temple servants.
The performers of this dance form Tamil Nadu use ‘Divya Prabandha’ or religious hymns composed by Alvar saints and hence this is a Vaishnavite dance.
The Araiyars (some Tamil Vaishnaites) claim themselves to be the descendents of Nathamuni, the first preceptor (acharya) of Sri Vaishnavism.
This is a hereditary institution where the training is given from father to son and it is usually the eldest son who is trained specially. One needs to undergo a rigorous training for twelve to eighteen years.
BHAVAI/BHAWAI DANCE, GUJRAT AND RAJASTHAN
Bhavai is staged open-air in front of temples as a community ritual honouring the goddess Amba
The Bhavai Dance is believed to be dance of emotions.
The Bhavai drama is a continuous performance lasting the whole night and staged in open grounds before the audiences, as a source of entertainment.
The male and female performers balance a number of earthen pots while dancing.
Before the actors begin, they gather near a large earthen lamp and a drawing of a trishula or trident symbolizing the goddess. They sing garbi i.e. religious songs in her praise, and invoke blessings for the success of the performance.
Navratri festival is celebrated with Bhavai performances.
BHOOTHA ARADHANE or BHUTA KOLA, KARNATAKA
Bhootha Aradhane or Bhuta Kola is a ritualistic folk dance in Karnataka. It has originated from the coastal parts of Karnataka and Kerala as a way of Tulu (a local language and area) worship.
This form of dance is rarely seen. Bhootha means ghost. The references to these creatures’ dates back to myths. In mythology Lord Shiva’s attendants are referred to as Bhuta Ganas.
The main idea behind this folk dance is to appease the devil and protect the environment.
A procession with idols of ‘bhoothas’ is taken out.
Drums and firecrackers accompany the procession.
At the end of the procession the idol is kept on a pedestal and the dancer begins his performance. He dances with swords and bells whirling round like a bhootha. He acts as if he is possessed and pretends like a prophet.
Bidesia dance is a popular form of dance drama from Bihar
Originated in the 20th century folk theatre and is prevalent in the Bhojpuri-speaking region of Bihar
Bhikhari Thakur is the creator of this dance form.
Bidesia is actually a type of play which deals with the contradictory topics like tradition and modernity, the urban and the rural and the rich and the poor.
Biraha songs – depicting pain of women left behind – are also part of this
Males play the role of females in Bidesia dance
It denotes a set of three different cultural festivals of Assam and celebrated by the Assamese diaspora around the world. Bihu is also used to imply Bihu dance and Bihu folk songsThe word Bihu is derived from the language of the local Dimasa people who have been agrarian since time immemorial.
BUIYA and NUIYA, ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Digaru Mishmis perform two types of dances, named as Buiya and Nuiya.
The Buiya dance of Arunachal Pradesh has two types of movements and it is performed for entertainment
Nuiya is a ritual-dance performed by a priest. This dance is also performed after a feast that is arranged by a family to entertain the fellow villagers.
Buiya is performed with objective of keeping health and prosperity of the dancers and their households.
Both men and women perform the dance, in the passage that runs along, one side of the house from the front to the rear.
CHAITI GHODA NATA, ODISHA
Chaiti Ghoda Nata is a simple form prevalent among the fishermen of coastal Odisha.
This function held for a whole month beginning from the full moon in Chaitra i.e. from March to April to the full moon in Baisakh i.e. from April to May.
It is said that Lord Rama had presented a horse to the boatman who had helped Him to cross the river Saraju during the period of his Vanavas. Hence they worship horse.
The dance is deeply ingrained in the Shakti cult. An integral portion of this dance drama is enacted by the character of a horse. Therefore it is called Ghoda Dance.
According to another myth, the time is during celebrations of the annual festival of Baseli/Vasuli worship which is a horse-headed deity, the dummy-horse dance becomes a necessary part of invoking her.
CHARI DANCE, RAJASTHAN
It is a dance form of the villagers and executes the happiness of them when they go to search water and find it.
The women go many miles just to collect water to fulfill their daily needs. While going they express their joy through the Chari dance.
Dancers while balancing brass pots on their heads perform various steps & dance to gain perfect patterns of movements with their hands.
CHARKULA DANCE, UTTAR PRADESH
This is the most spectacular dance performance, which is widely performed in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, by the Brahman Community of the villages in Mathura district.
This dance form symbolises the birth of Radha.
Usually performed 3 days after Holi when Radha was born
Charkula is a circular pyramid with many lamps on it hich dancers keep on their heads
CHAWALIA DANCE, UTTARAKHAND
Chawliya Dance is a form of folk dance of the performed by the males and the females of the Tehri-Garhwal region.
It is a sort of ‘sword’ dance which is danced with the accompaniment of the ‘Dholak’, ‘Kansi’ and flutes.
The male dancers brandish their swords and dance with light steps. With time the rhythm of their movement becomes faster and they whirl around speedily. The womenfolk also dance with quick footsteps.
The dance form portrays the idea of defending the women and property from outsiders.
CHERAW DANCE or BAMBOO DANCE, MANIPUR, MIZORAM
Cheraw or Bamboo dance is a tribal dance performed by the Lushais, a primitive community
found in Manipur.
This dance form is exclusively performed by girls, who are dressed in traditional costumes.
A combination of horizontal and vertical stripes adorns their skirt.
Performers dance on the parallel sticks of bamboos held by their companions.
Two bases support the bamboos that are placed horizontally, one at each end.
The movements created while clapping them produce a sharp sound, which actually forms the rhythm of the dance. It also indicates the timing for the dancing steps as well.
CHCHAU DANCE, BENGAL & ODISHA
During the 18th and 19th centuries, many of the princely rulers of Odisha region took a keen
interest in the development of this art. Chhau, essentially a dish of Purulia of West Bengal and Odisha, is a juxtaposition of dance and martial arts which is performed to celebrate the oncoming of spring.
It originated as a martial art and contains vigourous movements and leaps are generally performed at spring festivals to honour Shiva and Parvati deities.
It depicts, among other themes, fight between good
and evil inspired from epics like Mahabharata.
Some Chhau dances use large stylized masks. The depiction of birds and animals is a distinctive feature.
CHHOLIA DANCE, UTTARAKHAND
It is an ancient rajput traditional dance
It belongs to Kumaun region
Performed as a part of marriage procession
Dancers flash swords and shields gving impression of a warrior group ready to attack
DAHI KALA or DAHI HANDI, MADHYA PRADESH
The ‘Dahi Handi’ (curd pot) or the ‘Dahi Kala’ is a much celebrated dance of Madhya Pradesh celebrated in memory of Lord Krishna’s famous prank of stealing curd along with his group of friends.
This dance festival is observed on the following day of Gokulashtami.
On this auspicious day every individual house in the village hangs a pitcher full of curd on the outside wall of their houses which is broken by boys of village and consumed.
It is a vigourous temple dance
Performed by the men only
DANDARIA DANCE, ANDHRA
The Gonds from the hilly region of northern Hyderabad district in Andhra Pradesh perform a stick dance, known as the Dandaria dance.
In this dance, a group of male dancers, dressed in colourful special costumes, visit the nearby villages as a part of course of dance, where they are heartily welcomed by the host party. Then both these parties dance together in anti-clockwise direction, along with drums, trumpets and striking of sticks in their hands.
DANDIYA DANCE, GUJRAT
The most popular Dandiya dance is also known as the ‘stick’ dance. This dance form is always performed in a group in a circular movement to a measure steps.
The sticks used in this form are believed to be the sword of Goddess Durga.
It is different from Garba, in which sticks are not used. Further, movements in Dandiya are more complex.
The word ‘Dasa’ means a devotee & ‘Katha’ refers to wooden pieces arranged in tune for the prayer of the devotee.
It is performed by 2 members – one singer and other accompanist
Perormers perform with a pair of sticks
Mythologial stories are also recited at top of voice
The Dhamal dance is famous in the Gurgaon area, which is inhabited by Ahirs.
This dance is performed only by men.
It is said that the people perform this dance whenever their crop is ready for the purpose of the harvest.
Men perform this dance outdoors only on moonlit nights of Phalgun month.
They sing and dance with the sound of the Dhamal beats.
DHEPA DHULIA DANCE, ODISHA
Dhepadhol is a cylindrical shaped drum of 1.5 meter in length and it has a tapered left end.
Another unique feature of Dhepa Dhuliya dance of Odisha are the vibrant & colourful shirts of the men & the prominence of red, green and blue colours in the gowns of women.
FUGDI & DHALO, GOA
These are the folk dances performed by women.
This is regarded as the most common folk dance forms of Goa.
These dances are performed in many Hindu religious festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Dhalo and in other social and religious occasions.
The women sing and dance while enacting varied formations.
Fugdi has two major variations; it is danced in a circle or by rows of dancers. Broadly, villages have a dance in a circle but forest settlements have it in rows.
The dancers blow air through the mouth at maximum pace. This sounds as ‘FOO’ hence the name Foogdi or Fugdi is kept.
GARBA DANCE, GUJRAT
The Garba dance of Gujrat is famous in all parts of India.
This dance is performed by the womenfolk of Gujarat.
This dance form has connection with Shakti-Puja and its origin is believed to be in the worship of goddess Jagdamba.
Garba is actually an earthen pot with holes in which lamp is lit and around which women dance.
At the time of Navaratri this dance is performed throughout nine nights. This dance is performed also in the occasions such as Sharad Purnima, Vasant Panchami and Holi.
It is similar to Garba
Performed by menfolk
GAUDIYA NRITYA, WEST BENGAL
Gaudiya Nritya is a Bengali school of Indian classical dance.
Originating in Gaur, West Bengal, the ancient capital of the region, it is an all-pervasive form which eventually gave rise to present-day Odissi, Manipuri and Kuchipudi and contributed to the development of many classical dance forms.
Like all classical dances this also traces its roots to Natya Shastra of Bharat Muni but is not conferred Classical Dance Status.
GAUR MARIA DANCE, CHATTISGARH
Gaur Maria dance of Madhya Pradesh the spectacular dance performance symbolizes the hunting spirit of the tribe, since the word ‘Gaur’ means a ferocious bison.
The announcement or invitation for a dance is given by making sound with a bamboo trumpet or a horn.
The Marias imitates a number of bison movements in the dance performance; most of them perform like frisky bulls, hurling wisps of grass into air, charging and tossing horns.
GHODE MODNI DANCE, GOA
Ghode Modni dance literally involves horse-like movements in its performances.
It is a spectacular warrior-dance performed for the remembrance of the victory of the Ranes, the Maratha rulers of the Satari taluka in Goa, over the Portuguese.
GHOOMAR DANCE, HARYANA and RAJASTHAN
A dance called Ghoomar is popular in the western parts of the Haryana.
Circular movements of the dancers mark this dance as different one. The girls from the border region of the state generally perform Ghoomar.
The dancers, who take a circular mode and move about clapping and singing, perform this dance.
The girls sing while they dance in a swirling movement and as the tempo of the music increases the girls form pairs and swirl faster and faster. This dance is performed on occasion of festivals such as Holi, Gangaur Puja and Teej.
GOFF/GOPH DANCE, GOA, GUJRAT
Generally, Goff dance is performed during the Shigmo festival in Phalgun month.
Each dancer holds a colourful cord that is hanging at a center point of the place of dance performance.
The dancers start dancing intricately forming a beautiful, colourful, intricate braid at the end of the first movement and in second step they unfold the braid.
The songs that are sung during the dance performance are mostly devoted to Lord Krishna.
It is a dance of maidens
Jat-Jatin is the most popular folk dance of North Bihar, namely in Mithila and Koshi region
It is performed as a couple dance
It celebrates rainy season
This dance presents many socially concerned topics like poverty, love, sorrow, arguments etc.
The original theme of this dance originated from the love story of Jat and Jatin.
The dance named after an ornament called as ‘Jhumar’ worn by young married women and hence performed only by women.
Jhumur quintessentially vibrant with eastern flavor is performed by young girls depicting love lore who adorn their ankles with bells which make a tinny noise.
Dressed in colourful costumes, the ladies dance in happiness by singing and clapping with the beats of ‘dholak’ and ‘thali’.
At the same time, they are gracefully moving in a circle. This dances somewhat similar to the well-known Punjabi Giddha and is thus named Haryanvi Giddha.
KACHHI GHODI DANCE, RAJASTHAN
It is believed that the Kachhi Ghodi dance is originated from the bandit regions of Shekhawati.
Generally, the dance is performed for the entertainment of the bridegroom’s party.
Dancers are ready with elaborate costumes that resemble them as if they are riding on a dummy horse.
It is a vigorous type of dance. It also uses mock fights and the brandishing of swords, nimble sidestepping and pirouetting to the music of drums.
During the performance, a ballad singer sings & exploits of the bandit Robin Hoods of Rajasthan.
KADUVA KALI, KERALA
This dance is also known as Pulikali. Dancers get ready dressed up as tigers along with appropriate costumes and make-up.
They dance vigorously along with the loud beating of instruments like Udukku, Thakal.
KAJARI DANCE, BIHAR, UTTAR PRADESH
Kajri dances are performed in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar just before the advent of the monsoons.
These dances are performed with the accompaniment of the charming ‘Jhula’ lyrics or swing songs.
Themes are of love and joy.
KALBELIYA DANCE, RAJASTHAN
The Kalbeliyas, is a snake-charmer community from Rajasthan, which performs the Kalbeliya dance.
They rely heavily on this dance performance for their living. Sensuous movements of serpants are depicted in this dance. Traditional instruments like – been, pungi, dholak etc are used in this.
It is included in UNESCO cultural heritage as well.
The most interesting and equally popular folk drama of Himachal Pradesh is Karayila.
This drama includes an entertaining series of small playlets, skits, variety shows and parodies.
This form of shows present sharp and pungent satires about the bureaucracy and social issues very boldly.
KHAMBA THAIBI, MANIPUR
It is either performed independently or as a part of Lai Haoraoba.
It is a duet dance
It depicts how a poor lad from Khamba tribe fell in love with princess Thaibi
KHAMPTIS DANCE, ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Khamptis are Buddhists; hence many of their dance-dramas unfold some stories or depict mythical events bearing ethical lessons.
These activities are generally performed during the religious festivals
KHAYAL DANCE, RAJASTHAN
Khayal Dance has acquired a prominent place in Rajasthan.
The themes for the dance are derived from the great Hindu epics i.e. the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
These dances are performed by the Bhawai caste.
They enact these dance-dramas and have numerous ballets; some of which are humorous and depict the comic characters of ‘baniyas’, barbers and moneylenders with bitterest satires.
Women do not participate in Bhawai dances.
Among the various items the following have been in vogue like the ‘Bohara-Bohari’, ‘Surdas’, ‘Lodi-Badi’, ‘Dokari’, ‘Shankari’, ‘Bikaji’, etc.
KHORIA DANCE, HARYANA
The Khoria dance of Haryana is also performed on occasion of marriage.
This is usually performed during the long wait for the bridegroom to bring his new bride home.
During this theme of dance, the women mime the entire wedding ceremony, in the performance.
By this dance, the women also pray for the safe return of the marriage family along with the newly wedded couple.
The women stay awake the entire night for the dance for protecting their houses, as the men folk are all away to the bride’s house.
Koodiyattam or Kutiyattam is a form of Sanskrit theatre traditionally performed in the state of Kerala, India. Performed in the Sanskrit language in Hindu temples, it is believed to be 2,000 years old.
It is the only surviving specimen of the ancient Sanskrit theatre.
KOLI, MAHARASHTRA, GOA
Koli Folk Dance is a folk dance of Maharashtra
which got its name from fisher folk of the state called ‘Kolis’.
Koli is performed in this state by women and men, who divide themselves in two groups. They depict the boat rowing movement in the Koli dance.
The Koli dancers also present the wave movements and the net casting movement as if catching fish.
KOLLATTAM, TAMIL NADU
Kol means a small stick, and Attam means play, hence, a play or dance performed with sticks can be its simplest meaning.
A festival connected with Kolaattam has both a cultural and a religious significance.
Only women perform this dance.
KUDAKOOTHHU or KARAGAM, TAMLNADU
In this dance the dancer has to balance a pot of water on the head.
Villagers used to perform this dance in order to please the Goddess of Rain and the Goddess of River, known as Mari Amman and Gangai Amman respectively. It originated in Thanjavur.
LAI HAROBA, MANIPUR
The Lai Haroba is a folk dance of Manipur that depicts the creator and is also considered the precursor of Manipuri.
This traditional dance is performed to appease the gods. Since its inception they were performed in the temples.
This is usually performed by the girls who are lead by the ‘Maibis’ the priests.
Hand gestures are key, faces remain blank.
Before the advent of the Vaishnavism among the Manipuris, the Lai Haroba had a prominent place among them. It was an important custom to perform the dance during the worship of their guardian deities.
The Lai Haroba dance technique was later manifested into the Khamba and Thoibi dance pattern.
The word ‘Lavani’ originated from ‘Lavanya’, which means beauty.
Previously, this folk dance dealt with various subjects like religion, politics, society, romance, etc.
Lavani dance served as a morale booster and entertainment to the exhausted soldiers in the eighteenth and the nineteenth century battle of the Marathas. This is performed by women only.
Girls perform the Loor dance, during the month of ‘Phalguna’ (pring).
This dance is named so because the word ‘Loor’, which means girls in the Bangar area of Haryana.
It is specially performed during the Holi festival. This dance marks the arrival of pleasant spring season and with it the sowing of the Rabi crops in the farms.
The songs are generally in the form of questions and answers format.
Generally, most actors in Maanch are from artisan classes like Goldsmiths, Tailors, Carpenters, Gardeners, and Coppersmiths
Only men can participate
MAIBI DANCE, MANIPUR
The Maibis are the priestesses considered as spiritual mediums by the local people.
They summon the spirits of the Gods in an earthen pot and later tie nine and seven threads for God and Goddesses, after which the dance begins.
The beginning of the dance, describes the entire process of the creation of the construction of houses, temples and the various occupations of the people adopted to sustain them with time. In short, it is a kind of re-living of the way of life lived the past.
This Nepali dance is mainly associated with the ‘Tihar – Festival of Light’.
But because of its popularity it is performed even on occasions like marriages.
Tihar is celebrated to mark the return of the Hindu god Rama from exile.
During this festival Maruni dancers richly dressed in colourful costumes and resplendent with ornaments. They also use nose rings called ‘dungris’ and with all these they used to go on a house to house visit.
The dancers are usually also accompanied by a clown called ‘Dhatu waray’.
MAYIL ATTAM, TAMIL NADU
Mayilattam is a traditional south Indian dance that is performed by female dancers.
The performer wears costumes from head to toe that resembles that of a peacock with beak, that can be opened and closed using a thread and performs specific dances.
The performer dances on a tall piece of wood that is attached at the end of his feet.
Mayilattam requires extensive training and practise.
While performing the performers are dressed up as Lord Subramanyam travelling on a peacock.
Nagamandala is a form of snake worship that is predominant in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.
Nagamandala portrays the divine unification of male and female snakes.
This is a long ritual where the performers are resplendently dressed. Traditionally it takes two people to perform this act one acting as male snake and other acting as female snake.
The ritual takes place at night and ends at dawn.
Today Nagamandala is a more popular as an art form than a ritual.
PAIKA DANCE, BIHAR
The Paika Dance is a famous dance in Bihar
The basic objective of the dance performance was the development of physical excitement and courageous activities of the dancing warriors
This dance is performed with shield and sword
Popular in Mayurbhanj region
PONUNG, ARUNACHAL PRADESH
This dance is a folk dance of the Adis or Adi tribe, performed during the festival that is celebrated before the harvesting.
The purpose of this festival is seeking a good harvest and welfare of the village community.
Ponung is an exclusive women dance, which, is performed by the young married women and girls.
The dance performance is led by a Miri, who is a man adept in mythical songs about the origin of paddy and other crops.
Miri stands in center holding and swaying a sword like musical instrument.
RAUT NACHA, CHATTISGARH
Raut Nacha is a dance form performed by Raut/Yadava.
Exclusive dance form of the cowherd community showcases the enactment of the legendary combat in which the king Kansa was defeated by the Yadav clan led by Lord Krishna.
This dance performed after Diwali is a week long affair that indulges in the celebration of the bygone legendary victory.
SAANG DANCE/DRAMA, HARYANA
Saang dance is a popular dance form of Haryana, reflecting its culture in true sense.
A group comprising of people in even numbers such as ten or twelve persons performs it.
The dance mainly reflects religious stories and folk tales that are performed in open places and it lasts for 5 hours.
Some of the male participants dress up as women to perform the part of the female in the dance. The meaning of ‘Saang’ or ‘Swang’ is disguise or ‘to impersonate’.
It is believed that this dance form first originated and then evolved in its present form by Kishan Lal Bhaat in 1750 AD.
Teeyan festival in Punjab is celebrated in the month of Shravan during the rainy season.
The dance usually takes place, when the women gather along the bank of any river or pond under big shady trees.
Swings are thrown over the branches, where the singing, swinging and dancing of the women folk starts.
On this day, when the married daughters come to their parent’s house their brothers fix the swings for them.
As they swing they share their anxieties with each other reflecting through lyrics of songs. Dressed in their best and wearing ornaments, girls gather during these festivals like the fairies.
ARAIYAR SEVAI DANCE, TAMIL NADU