Folk dance in India From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Folk dance in India

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Karma/Munda: The traditional dance gets its name from the Karma tree[ambiguous], which stands for fortune and good luck. The ceremony starts with the planting of the trees. Dancers, both men and women, form circles around it and dance with their arms around each other's waists. As the drum beats get quicker and louder, the dancers gain momentum and generally end in an uproarious tumult.



The folk dance of the Satnami community of Chhattisgarh bears religious overtones. Performed on Maghi Purnima - the birth anniversary of their Guru(Saint) Guru Ghasidas, the dance is evolving still to include a variety of steps and patterns. The dancers dance around a jaitkhamb set up for the occasion, to the songs eulogizing their spiritual head. The songs also reflect the Nirvana philosophy, conveying the spirit of renunciation of their Guru and the teachings of saint poets like Kabir, Ramdas, Dadu, etc. Dancers with bent torsos and swinging arms continue to dance till carried away by their devotion. As the rhythm quickens, they indulge in acrobatics and even form human pyramids.

Raut Nacha

A traditional folk dance usually done by yadavs/yaduvanshis (a caste which considers itself as descendants of Krishna) as symbol of worship to Krishna. Done at the time of 'dev udhni ekadashi' (time of awakening of Gods after brief rest) according to Hindu pancang (calendar). The dance is a close resemblance of krishna's raas leela (dance of lord with his village's girls called gopis) with gopis.


The multi-hued Tarangamel dance is all energy and youthfulness. On the occasions of Dussehra and Holi, the spirited girls and boys swarm the streets in colorful group, waving flags and streamers (tarang), inspiring and inviting one and all to imbibe the festive spirit. They shout "Ho! Ho!" To the beats of 'romut', 'dhol' and 'tasha'. The rainbow like costumes of the dancers and the multi-coloured flags and streamers make Tarangamel a visually appealing affair.

The other popular folk dances are:[5][6]

  • Dashavatara

  • Dekhni

  • Dhalo

  • Dhangar

  • Fugdi

  • Ghodemodni

  • Goff

  • Jagar

  • Kunbi

  • Mando

  • Muslam Khel

  • Perni Jagar

  • Ranamale

  • Romta Mel

  • Divlyan Nach (Lamp dance)

  • Veerabhadra



Garba is customarily performed by women, the dance involves circular patterns of movement and rhythmic clapping. It popularly performed during Navratri. The word comes from "garbha deep" which is translated as either light in the inner sanctum of the temple or lamp inside a perforated earthen pot (which is often used in the dance).[7][8]


It is performed by a rural community living around Nal Sarovar Lake. In it, performers simulate the rhythmic movements of roving mariners and the undulating sea waves. The Bhil tribes, who live close to border tracts, and the Adivasis of Dangs district, have particularly lively folk dances.


Raas is an energetic, vibrant dance originating in the state of Gujarat. Often called the "stick dance" because it uses polished sticks or dandiya, it represents a mock-fight between Durga and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king. It is nicknamed "The Sword Dance" because the dandiya represent the sword of Durga and are hit together.[7][9] The combination of garba and raas has become very popular at the collegiate level in the United States. Garba-Raas competitions are increasing in number. Popular ones include Dandia Dhamaka,[10] Raas Chaos,[11] Garba With Attitude, Dandia on Fire and Maryland Masti among others.[12]

Tippani Dance

Originated from the chorwad region of Saurashtra, laborer women take a wooden rod to beat the floor,which had iron/wood piece at one end, to make it stronger in opposite rows,which made the dance an interesting work.[13]

Himachal Pradesh

Kinnauri Nati

The beauty of hilly Himachal finds an expression in the languid and elegant movements that form a part of the marvelous Nati dance. The dance matches the gentleness of the hilly breeze and the rhythmic swaying of trees. The dance is mainly a mime but also incorporates some abstract but languid sequences. Important among the dances of Nati is 'Losar shona chuksom', which takes its name from Losai, or the New Year. The dance depicts all the activities involved in sowing the crop and reaping it.


The Namagen dance is performed in September to celebrate the autumnal hues. The costumes are largely woolen and richly studded ornaments of silver are worn by women. The most picturesque amongst these are dances of Gaddis. All regions of Himachal Pradesh have their own dances. Mostly men and women dance together, close to each other in the formation.


Main article: Music of Harayana

Haryana has rich tradition of dances for various occasions (wedding, festivals, etc.) and seasons (harvest, sowing of seeds, monsoon, etc.). These dances come under one or the other category. Broadly, the following dances are common in one area or the other and performed on specific occasions.



Yakshagana (Kannada:ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ, pronounced as yaksha-gaana) is a classical dance drama popular in the state of Karnataka mostly popular in the districts of Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Kasaragod district of Kerala. This theater art involves music, songs, dance, acting, dialogue, story and unique costumes. While songs and dance adhere to well-established talas very similar to classical Indian dance forms, acting and dialogues are created spontaneously on stage depending on the ability of artists. This combination of classical and folk elements makes yakshagana unique from any other Indian art. It would be considered a form of opera in western eyes.

Traditionally, yakshaganas use to start late in the night and run all night. Bhagavata, the background singer, is also the directory of the story and controls the proceedings on stage. Bagavatha along with background musicians who play chande and maddale forms himmela. The actors wear colorful costumes and enact roles in the story of Mummela.

Yakshagana is sometimes simply called aataā in Kannada and Tulu ("play"). Yakshagana literally means the song (gana) of a yaksha. Yakshas were an exotic tribe mentioned in the Sanskrit literature of ancient India.

There are many professional troupes in Karnataka. In spite of competition from the modern movie industry and TV, these troupes arrange ticketed shows and make a profit.


Bayalata is a form of Yakshagana found in southern Indian region of Karnataka featuring stories of from Indian epic poetry and the Puranas rendered as dance and drama. Bayalāa literally means open theater drama and marks the end of harvest season. The most popular theme for bayalāa is the story of Kōṭi and Cennayya, which has deep-rooted significance for the people of Tulu Nadu.

Dollu Kunitha

The Dollu Kunitha is a popular drum dance of Karnataka. The vigorous drum dance is performed by the men of the shepherd community known as 'Kurba'. Powerful drumming, acrobatic movements and attractive formations are the notable highlights of the dance. The men have large drums, decorated with colored cloth, slung from their necks, and they beat the drums as they dance with nimble foot and leg movement. The dance is at times accompanied by songs, which are religious or in praise of war.

Veeragaase dance

Main article: Veeragase

Female artists performing Veeragase is a dance form prevalent in the state of Karnataka, India. It is a vigorous dance based on Hindu mythology and involves very intense energy-sapping dance movements. Veeragase is one of the dances demonstrated in the Dasara procession held in Mysore. This dance is performed during festivals and mainly in the Hindu months of Shravana and Karthika.

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