Folk dances of Rajasthan

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Folk Dances of Rajasthan

Folk dances of Rajasthan trace their origin to rural customs and traditions. These dances form an integral part of people’s lives and are performed on important occasions and festivals. The rise of princely states during medieval times, also added to growth of folk dances, as the rulers gave patronage to art & crafts. Jaipur Gharana is supposedly the first gharana of Kathak dance. Its pioneer was Bhanu ji.

1. Bhavai Folk Dance: Bhavai is one of the traditional folk dances of Rajasthan. This is a very difficult form of dance and can only be performed by skilled artists. This dance basically involves women dancers balancing 8 to 9 pitchers on their heads and dancing simultaneously. This nail biting , suspenseful dance, the well skilled dancers balance a number of earthen pots or brass pitchers and then sway with the soles of their feet perched on the top of a glass and also sometime on the edge of a naked sword or on the rimos a brass Thali (plate) during the performance.

This artistic form of dance is believed to be originated in the neighboring state Gujarat and was soon picked up and adapted by the local tribal men and women and gave it a distinctive Rajasthani essence. This traditional folk dance, performed by the womens of the Jat, Bhil, Raigar, Meena, Kumhar, and Kalbelia communities of Rajasthan evolved from the extraordinary quality and capacity of the these communities to carry a number of pots of water on head over a long distance in the desert.

  • Location: Mostly famous in Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Banswara and Dungarpur
  • Performed By: Skilled male or female dancers
  • Performance during the Occasion of Marriages

Features: Bhavai dance basically involves women dancers balancing 8 to 9 earthen-pots (matki’s) on their heads and dancing simultaneously.

Additionally, dancers also put their feet on the top of a glass pieces or on the

Edge of a naked sword or on the rimos a brass Thali (plate) during the performance.

Famous Persons associated with dance form: Mrs. Krishna Vyas Chhangani, from Jodhpur (Rajasthan).

Chari Folk Dance: Chari Dance is a folk dance in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Chari dance is a female group dance. It is related to Ajmer and Kishangarh. Chari dance is prominent in Gujjar and Saini community of Kishangarh, Ajmer and known all over Rajasthan. The Chari dance is performed at marriage celebrations, on the birth of a male child and at celebrations and festivals of goodness.

  • Location: Most famous in Kishangarh and Ajmer.
  • Performed By: Women from Gujjar Community
  • Performance Occasions: Marriage occasions, on the birth of a male child or any big festival celebration.

Features: This dance describes the art of collecting water in a Chari or pot by the Rajasthani women in their day to day life. These ladies carry brass pots on their heads balancing it to perfection. These pots are kept ignited with the cotton seeds dipped in oil. These lit pots display beautiful effect in the dark night.

Famous Persons associated with this dance form: Falku Bai

Chakri Folk Dance: Chakri dance is believed as same as the Raai dance of ‘Beriyas’ tribe of Madhya Pradesh. Devi Lal Sagar made this dance popular.

  • Location: Hadoti region of Bundi, Kota & Baran District.
  • Performed By: Women of Kanjar tribe
  • Performance Occasions: Marriages & Festivals of Hadoti Region.

Features: As the name suggests, Chakri dance involves a series of fast and vigorous spinning movements with the beats of the Dholak. Famous Persons associated with dance form: Shanti Devi, Phulwa Filma

Drum Folk Dance: Drum dance is very famous dance in Rajasthan. Dancers dress traditional Rajasthani colourful dresses during this dance. Drum dance is a unique dance. Drum dance, which is very well-known dance of Rajasthan, is a professional dance-form of Jhalore region of Rajasthan, where only the men participants can perform. In this dance, five men hit huge drums that are attached around their necks.

A dancer holding a huge drumming instruments in their hands, also go together with the drummers. Some other member holds weapon which is not covered in their mouth to give an additional effect to the performance. The dancer is given a weapon, which he puts in his mouth and three other uncovered weapons are given to handle with his hands while avoiding causing an injury to himself. Drum dance is a very beautiful dance of rajasthan, the men musicians can play big drums and brass plates or Thalis, Women and others can dance in group. The Drum dance becomes very exciting when its Tempo increases and the dancers speed up their movements and their Dance steps.

The Drum dance can be performed mostly at the time of any big festival or any marriages in Rajasthan. There is no restriction for the performance of drum dance but it is generally performed in big occasions like festivals, marriage etc. The Credit for bringing this dance to limelight goes to Jay Narayan Vyas.

  • Most Famous Location is Jalore district in Rajasthan.
  • Performed By: Only Men
  • Performance Occasions: Marriages

Features: In this dance, five men beat huge drums that are tied around their necks and one dancer holding huge cymbals in their hands also accompany the drummers and one dancer holds a naked sword on his mouth and juggle with other three dancers.

Fire Folk Dance: Fire dance, Folk dance of Rajasthan fire dance is one of the unique dances performed in the desert region of Rajasthan. This dance is the marvelous example of the Jasnathis

 of Bikaner and Churu’s lifestyle who are well known for their tantric powers throughout Rajasthan. Fire dance is very tricky and difficult

to enact and is mainly performed by the Banjara community

who are well versed with the art. Some of the

 dance steps involve awe-inspiring fire stunts wherein the performers dance by holding fire

 rods in their hands and filling up their mouths with kerosene.

The performance of fire dance requires dedication and immense practice. The dance takes place on a large ground, which is spread with live wood and charcoal. On this ground, the Jasnathi men and boys jump on to the fire with the accompaniment

of drum beats. These drumbeats give a tempo for the performance. This music gradually rises and sets a dance in a fast tempo. At a certain point, it reaches at a crescendo, where the dancers seem to be in a trance like state. The dancers perform their actions as if they are blessed with a divine protection. The performance on a large bed of flaming coals is considered as a specialty of this region.

Some of the traditional folk dance of Rajasthan by the Banjara Community is also called the same. But this dance is completely different from the above-mentioned performance. Here, the dance is performed around the Fire. The person dancing usually takes two flamed sticks in his hands and fills up his mouth with kerosene oil. With the accompaniment of some dancing steps, he throws the oil over the lamps.

Location & Performed By: Jasnathis of Bikaner and Churu districts of Rajasthan.

Performance Occasions: On the festive occasions like Holi, Janmashtami etc.

Features: Jasnathi men and boys jump on to the fire with the accompaniment of drum beats. The dance involves breathtaking fire stunts wherein the dancers perform by holding fire rods in their hands and filling up their mouths with kerosene. The fire rods are also moved on their heads and legs by the dancers and the dancers move on top of flaming bed of charcoal.

Gair Folk Dance: Gair dance is one of the popular folk dances practiced in the Rajasthan state. It is one of the many dance forms of the Bhil community of state. It is mainly performed by the community at the festival of Holi. Colourful costumes, traditional instruments and captivating dance steps are the highlight of this dance. This folk dance is performed by both male and female. However, several differences can be observed in the performance of men and women in this dance. Usually, the dancers dance in a big circle with wood stick in their hands. The dancers move in and out a big circle and beat their sticks to create the rhythm when they turn. They move first in clockwise then in anti-clockwise direction. According to rhythm, they perform various steps and take turns in-between.

Sometimes, it is performed exclusively by men folk. At that time, a series of half-swirls make up a simpler version of the dance. Depending on the dancer’s ability and proficiency, it is danced with a series of intricate pattern steps. The striking of the sticks gives the dance a vigorous character and a consistent tempo.

The musical instruments that accompany this folk dance comprise of dhol, nagada, and dholak. The melodious song and enchanting background music encourages one to dance with the beat.

Location: Performed in Mewar region.

However, its variations like the Dandi Gair is found in the Marwar region and Geendad is

 found in the Sehkhawati region

Performed By: Both men and women dance together of Bhil tribe

Performance during the Occasion of: Holi

Features: The Gair dance is performed by both

Men and Womenfolk holding wooden sticks. It is group dance consisting of two circles where

groups of dancers moving in and out a big circle. According to rhythm, they perform various steps, striking their sticks & take turns in-between.

Gawri Folk Dance: Gawari dance of Rajasthan

 is a tribal dance of the famous Bhil tribe. They move from places to places to perform this dance which is a type of a dramatically dance. Among

the main characters of Gawari dance are Rai

Buriya Shiva, his two ‘Rais’, and ‘Katkuriya’,

 the comic handyman. Between the enactments

of various episodes, the entire troupe dances around a central spot consecrated to a deity.

Location: Udaipur, Rajsamand and Chittorgarh districts of Rajasthan

Performed By: Gawri is a dance drama of Bhil Tribe

Performance Occasions: After the monsoons,

 in the months of September and October

Features: This tribal dance has a troupe which travels through village to village with their dance for a month. Gawari expresses the devotion and faith to Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati through Folk Dance, Music and Folklores. It also

Symbolizes human love for forests, animals and people. Women do not take part in Gavri and all the female roles are played by men.

Ghoomar Folk Dance: Often performed exclusively for ladies gathering, Ghoomar is particularly a women’s dance. It was initially developed by the Bhil tribal community of Rajasthan but later adopted by various others as well. Known for its enthusiastic and traditional touch; Ghoomar has not only build its name in India but also has gained international recognition and applaud.

This spectacular folk dance has derived its name from ‘ghoomna’ which means circling. Fascination starts when colors of the flowing ‘Ghaghara’ (the long skirts) of the women dancers start to flow. Filled with oodles of grace, the skirt flair sways while the women twirl in circles, their faces covered with a veil.

Location: Across Rajasthan

Performed By: Originally by Bhil Community, adopted by different communities including Rajputs (Women)

Performance Occasions: Rajput Marriages

Features: Ghoomar is a very simple dance where the dancers move gently and gracefully in circles. Dancing includes pirouetting, which displays the spectacular colors of the flowing ‘Ghaghara’, the long skirt of the Rajasthani women.

Kachi Ghodi Folk Dance: The centuries of history that is behind Rajasthan has resulted, among other things, in the gathering of a very rich folk culture. The Kachhi Ghodi dance is one of the most popular Folk Dances in Rajasthan.

The Kachhi Ghodi Dance in Rajasthan India is performed on dummy horses. This dance is always performed by men. Men in elaborate costumes- red turbans and dhotis and kurtas ride the well decorated dummy horses. With uncovered weapons in their hands, these dancers move musically to the beating of drums and fifes while a singer narrates the exploits of the Bavaria bandits of Shekhawati.

The dance begins from the bandit regions of Shekhawati, and this dance is performed for the leisure of the bridegroom’s party. Dancers elaborate costumes that look like them riding on dummy horse. It’s a kind of dynamic dance; it uses mock fights and the show of swords, nimble sidestepping and pirouetting to the music of fifes and drums. A narrative singer usually sings the achievements of the bandit Robin protectors of Rajasthan.

The performing arts of Rajasthan generally hail from the tribes of Rajasthan and show the socio historical scenario that was strange to the time or race they represent. Horses have always been a very vital part of war and transportation in Rajasthan. The legend (story of past) of the Brave Rana Pratap Singh goes untold without the mention of his loyal vehicle- Chetek. Horses, as much as they were the symbol of royal power, were also used by the bandits and highwaymen who found it easy to stop people traveling on elephants of bullock carts with their horses.

Kacchi Ghodi dance of Rajasthan is performed on the bridegroom’s party. On the narrative song, the dancers riding on fake horses uses mock fight to perform the scenes of the achievements of the bandit. Display of weapons and pirouetting to the beats of drums attracts the audience very much. Kacchi Ghodi of Rajasthan is a well-known folk dance full of enthusiasm and colors.

Kacchi Ghodi of Rajasthan is performed by men on dummy horses. Men wear elaborative costumes embroidered with amazing mirror-work and ride the dummy horses. The dummy horses are used as support and are equally decorated with meticulous embroidery and mirrored-work. The dancers ride the dummy horses with weapons in their hands. These dancers with weapons move to the beats of drums and fifes. In Kacchi Ghodi dance of Rajasthan, a singer describes the tales of Bavaria bandits of Shekhawati region.

The bandits of the Shekhawati region were especially popular, mostly due to the high concentration of businessmen and traders in that part of Rajasthan. And traders meant money; and traders meant long overnight journeys on caravans that are full with expensive goods. The Kachhi Ghodi Dance Rajasthan represents the conflict of the bandits of the Bavaria clan of tribes with the passing masses.

Kalbelia Folk Dance: The Kalbelia or Kalbeliya, as it is sometimes spelled is a dance form that is associated with a Rajasthani tribe of the same name. The dance form consists of swirling; graceful movements that make this dance a treat to behold. The movements associated with the Kalbelia also make it one of the most sensuous forms of folk dance in India. The Kalbelia dance is generally performed for any joyous celebration and is considered to be an integral part of the Kalbelia culture. Another unique aspect of the Kalbelia dance is that it is only performed by women while the men play the instruments and provide the music.

Kalbelia dance is included in UNESCO’s list of the Cultural Heritage of Humanity from the year 2010.

Location: Pali district, Ajmer, Chittorgarh and Udaipur district.

Performed By: Women from Kalbelia community

Performance Occasions: Kalbelia songs are based on stories taken from folklore and mythology and special dances are performed during Holi.

Features: The dancers are women in flowing black skirts who dance and swirl, replicating the movements of a serpent. The cloths are mixed in red and black hues and embroidered in unique patterns. Kalbelia dance has a traditional musical instruments which is Poongi also called been. Other traditional musical instruments used by Kalbelia tribe in Kalbelia dance are Dufli, Morchang, Dholak, Khanjari and Khuralio.

Kathputli Folk Dance: Kathputlis are a type of puppets. Rajasthan is famous for its puppet-playing tradition. String puppets or Kathputli dance in Rajasthan is an old tradition. In this dance the puppeteer uses ballads to narrate the stories. These storied or tales of romance and chivalry are told with movements of string puppets. In olden days, puppeteers used to travel from place to place through various villages to entertain people. Through puppets, the puppeteer tells the stories of legendary heroes or historic events are narrated through it.

Different types of puppets or Kathputlis are used for popular puppet shows that include Glove Puppets, String Puppets, Rod Puppets and Shadow Puppets. Puppetry or Kathputli in Rajasthan holds an important place in traditional entertainment of people. Stories from mythology and legends are told through puppets in Rajasthan. So, with entertainment they spread awareness among the citizens.

Kathputli Dance means the dances of puppets. It is a traditional dance of Indian state of Rajasthan. Kathputli is a join of two rajasthani language words Kath meaning wood and Putli meaning a doll which has no life, hence Kathputli means a doll made of wood. Kathputli are usually made of mango wood and stuffed with cotton. These puppets are generally one and half feet in height and aremade in Sawai-Madhopur, Bari, and Udaipur.

Famous Persons associated with dance form:

Organisations: Rupayan Sansthan in Jodhpur founded by Vijaydan Detha and Komal Kothari in 1960 and Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal, Udaipur, founded by Devilal Samar in 1952, are working in the field preserving and promoting the art of Kathputli. New Delhi also has an area known as ‘Kathputli Colony’, in Shadipur Depot, where puppeteers have lived long.

Terah Taali Folk Dance: Performed by the members of the Kamada tribe, Terah Taal Dance, Rajasthan is one of the ancient performing arts of Rajasthan. Performed with Manjeeras and other metallic instruments, Terah Taal Dance, Rajasthan is one of the most entertaining dance forms of Rajasthan and attracts tourists from all over.

The Terah Taal Dance in Rajasthan however is also an important ritual in the Baba Ramdev temple at Runicha. During the Terah Taal Dance, Rajasthan the music of the Ektara accompanies the dance performance. Manjeeras are tied to thirteen different parts of the parts of the body. The sounds of these Manjeeras produce the Terah Taal or the thirteen beats. Often during the Terah Taal the dances with swords are also performed. The

Terah Taal Dance, Rajasthan requires accuracy and precision which can only be done by the professional dancers who participate in this beautiful dance performance. Terah thirteen cymbals are used to give rhythm to the intricate movements of the performer and to provide a synchronous pulse to the accompanying musical instruments as well as the devotional singing is a bewitching performance. Nine cymbals are fastened on the right leg, seven between the knee and the ankle, one on the instep, one on the big toe, and each on both the arms, while the performer or sometimes two, sit in front the heroon housing the image of the legendary Ramdeoji along with the accompanists playing on chutara and khartla, singing songs in adoration of the saint.

Location: Ramdevra, Didwana, Dungarpur, Udaipur

Performed By: Woman from Kamad tribe while sitting on the floor before Baba Ramdeo’s image

Performance Occasions: In honor the folk hero, Baba Ramdeo

Features: The women have 13 ‘manjeeras’ (little brass discs) tied to the various parts of their body, which they strike with the ones they hold in their hand.

Often a sword is also used by the professional Terah Taali dancer and also a pot on her to make the dance more attractive. Male artists sing local Rajasthani folk songs as background music and play different instruments like pakhwaja, dholak jhanjhar, sarangi, harmonium etc.

Famous Persons associated with dance form: Mangi Bai, Mohini Narayani, laxman das Kamad.

Walar Folk Dance:

Location: Udaipur, Pindwara (Sirohi) and Abu Road

Performed By: Women from Garasia community

Performance Occasions: On occasion of Gangaur & Teej festivals.

Features: Involves simple circular movements of dancers on beats, generally accompanied by the beats of the mandal, chang and a variety of other musical instruments.

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