Music & dance play a significant role in the life of colourful people of Rajasthan. The desert comes alive when the local Rajasthani performer performs the folk dances that leave the tourists amazed. Rajasthan has a diverse collection of musician castes, including langas, sapera, bhopa, jogi and Manganiar. The colourful attires of the dances blended with the folk music transform the barren land into a colourful paradise of Stately charm. Folk dances and plays in India retain significance rural areas as the expression of the daily work and rituals of village communities. These dances have their roots in religious and seasonal festivals that have become a background for such celebrations. Some of the best known folk dances of Rajasthan are Gair, Ghoomar, Kalbelia, Bhavai, Rasleela, Fire Dance, Kachhi Ghodi, Terah Taali, Chakri, Chari Dance, Drum Dance, Bhil Gawari, Kathputli Dance and more. Among all folk dances, Ghoomar, Kathputli (Puppet) and kalbelia (Sapera or Snake Charmer) dance attracts tourists very much.
Details about Rajasthani folk dances
Gair Dance: – Gair dance is one of the popular and famous folk dances from Rajasthan in India which is mostly performed by the Bhil community but found in all over Rajasthan. This is the one of the few performances where both men and women dance together. Some of its variations are the Dandi Gair found in the Marwar region and Geendad found in the Sehkhawati region of Rajasthan. Though Gair dance can performed any time as a form of entertainment but it is performed during any festive occasions. It is specially performed on the festive occasion of Holi and Janmastami. Colourful costumes, traditional instruments and captivating dance steps are the highlights of this dance.
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Ghoomar Dance: – Ghoomar is a traditional as well as an enthusiastic folk dance of Rajasthan. It was basically developed by the Bhil tribe and was adopted by other Rajasthani communities. This is basically a community dance for women and performed on auspicious occasions. They dance while singing traditional songs and perform circular movements gracefully and charmingly. This spectacular folk dance derived its name from ‘ghoomna’. Fascination starts when colors of the flowing ‘ghaghara’, the long skirt of the Rajasthani women flows during pirouetting. There is an amazing grace as the skirt flair slowly while the women twirl in circles. They use measured steps and various graceful inclinations of the body, beating palms or snapping fingers at particular cadences while singing lilting songs.
Kalbelia (Sapera or Snake Charmer) Dance: – Kalbelia dance is a folk dance of Rajasthan state of India. It is well known by other names like ‘Sapera Dance’ or ‘Snake Charmer Dance’. It is one of the most sensuous dances among all Rajasthani dance. This ancient dance form is performed by women on the tunes of been on the occasion of joy in the Kalbelia community. In this dance, males play various traditional instruments and females perform dance. The dancers are women in flowing black skirts who dance and swirl, replicating the movements of a serpent. The popularity of this dance is worldwide that Rajasthan’s Kalbelia dance and songs are now in UNESCO’s representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity from the year 2010.
Bhavai 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 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. In festive occasion as well as in marriages also Bhavai dance performance can be seen. The government has taken all necessary measures to revive this fast dying tradition of folk dance.
Fire Dance: – Fire dance is a unique dance famous in the desert region of Rajasthan. This folk dance describes the lifestyle of Jasnathis of Bikaner and Churu districts of Rajasthan. 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. Here the Jasnathi men and boys jump on to the fire with the accompaniment of drum beats. The dancers perform their actions as if they are blessed with a divine protection.
Kachhi Ghodi: – Kachhi-Ghodi or the dummy horse dance originated from the bandit regions of Shekhawati and is generally performed for the entertainment of the bridegroom’s party. This folk dance is one of the most popular Folk Dances of Rajasthan. Dancers wear novelty horse costumes and participate in mock fights while a singer narrates folk tales about local bandits of Shekhawati region through his song.
Terah Taali: – Terah Taali Dance is a beautiful musical and one of the complex folk dance of Rajasthan. This folk dance is performed by the Kamada tribes who are traditional snake charmers. Besides this it is also performed by the tribes of Mirasi, Bhand, Dholi, Bhat and Nat. The Thirteen cymbals used in the different body parts of the female dancer is magnificent scene to watch. This dance is performed as a kind of ritual to please Baba Ramdeo, a local deity of Rajasthan. 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.
Chari Dance: – Chari dance is a female group dance and related to Ajmer and Kishangarh. This folk dance is prominent in Gujjar and Saini community of Kishangarh and Ajmer and known all over Rajasthan. This traditional dance form requires lots of skill and patience as this dance is performed with pots on the head and lamps in the hand of the dancers. While performing the Chari dance woman dance with balancing brass pots (Chari) on their heads and move together and dance on a same sequence. This dance does not have any particular movements except balancing the pots on their heads. This folk dance is often perform at the time of marriage occasions, on the birth of a male child or any big festival celebration in Rajasthan India.
Kathputli Dance: – Rajasthan Kathputli dance is world famous and well known as Puppetry dance. It is the old tradition of stories from mythology and legends are told through puppets in Rajasthan. Kathputli Dance or Rajasthani puppetry art is known to be originated a thousand years ago. At that time these puppets were not only a source of entertainment, but also provided moral and social education. Different shows explain different problems like the dowry system, women’s empowerment, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, and cleanliness. These shows help people to aware of the social problems that everybody was facing and also showed ways of solving them.
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