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Folk Dances of India

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Folk Dances of Rajasthan

Ghoomer Dance

Ghoomer Dance :
Ghoomer dance is a community dance of women in Rajasthan. It is performed on various auspicious occasions like fairs & festivals. It is the famous dance of Rajasthan. It is called as `Ghoomer`, from the `ghoomna` of ghaghra i.e. the flowing of ghaghra, a long skirt of the Rajasthani women. The graceful gyrating of ghaghra displays the spectacular colours as it flows due to dancing steps.

It is basically a community dance of the Rajputs. It is traditionally performed only by the women. There are simple swaying movements with special kind of footwork, to convey the spirit of any auspicious occasion. However, there is an amazing grace as the skirt flair slowly while the women folk twirl in circles, their faces covered with the help of the veil.

Women from may be young or old can participate in Ghoomar dance. Sometimes it may continue for hours or whole night. It is considered as one of the traditional rituals among this community. So, on the occasion of marriage, a bride is expected to dance Ghoomar after welcoming at her husband`s home.

While dancing, the dancers move in a circular direction with clockwise and anti-clockwise steps. The performers sometimes unite their hands and even clap their hand in-between. The performers move gracefully on the beat of the songs in synchronizing steps. As the tempo of the dance increases, the dancers swirl fleetly.

Ghoomar dance is a group dance. The performers in Ghoomar dance sway their colorful ghagras that are rich in embroidery work and it is also embellished with mirror-work. The Ghoomar dance is the characteristic dance of the Bhils although it is especially associated with the royal ladies of Jaipur too, as the Bhils and the Jaipur royalty have been close for centuries. This dance has become an identity of Rajasthan.

Terahtali Dance

Terahtali Dance

Terahtali Dance:
The Terahtali dance is a very fascinating dance of the State. It is performed by women folk in a sitting posture. The women have `Manjeeras` i.e.little brass discs that are tied with long strings to their body. Manjeeras are tied on their wrists, elbows, waists, arms and a pair in their hands as well. The women with dexterous and fine movements dance at a strong rhythm on the beats of `Manjeeras` whereas, the male accompanists sing and play on the `Tandoora`. Sometimes, they may hold a sword between their teeth or do the balancing of pots or lighted lamps on their heads. Their balancing act makes the viewers astonished.

Terahtali danceTerahtali dance is an unusual folk dance of Rajasthan and it termed as `Terahtali" as terah (thirteen) manjeeras or cymbals are used to create rhythm to which the dancers move. It is considered as a devotional form of dance. The Kamad community of Rajasthan is privileged to perform it. . This community people perform it to pay homage to their hero Baba Ramdev. In this dance form, women sit on the floor in front of the image of Baba Ramdev & perform various steps.

Fire Dance

Fire Dance: Fire dance
The Jasnathis of Bikaner and Chum are well known for their tantric powers throughout Rajasthan. This dance is the marvelous example of their lifestyle. 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 & 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. These devotional & exciting performances are usually seen at the late nights of winter.

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 dancing person usually takes two flame sticks in their hands and fill up the mouth with Kerosene oil. Then with performing some dancing steps, throws the oil over the lamps. Another glimpse is that flamed rods are circulated over heads and legs and same oil is thrown on sides. This is a breath taking performance.


Drum Dance:
It is a professional dance-form performed from Jalore region of Rajasthan. Men participants can only perform it. Five men are beating huge drums that are tied around their necks. Some of the accompany a dancer holds huge cymbals in their hands. For an additional effect, some member holds naked sword in his mouth and performs vigorously by twirling three painted sticks. This is a surprising balancing act.

Putting a naked sword in the mouth of a man, and giving him three swords to juggle with his hands while avoiding causing himself injury, is really a challenging work. This to done in the accompaniment of the troupe that consists of musicians, who are holding huge drums around their necks and cymbals in their hands. It is no doubt a stirring performance from a martial race. With some form of variations, Drum dance is performed in various States of India.

Chari Dance

Chari Dance:
Most of the area in the Rajasthan State is of desert. So, inadequate water is a known problem. And gathering water from a far distance is a part of everyday life of women folk. 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.

To make the performance more attractive, the flames from cottonseeds set alight on the pot, so that the bobbing heads create streaks of illuminating patterns as they move effortlessly around the floor.

This is popular performance in the Kisherigarh region. This dance demands a lot of patience and balance on the part of dancer. The dancers carry brightly-lit brass pots on their heads, displaying many flexible movements of the body. This results in a sound presentation of dance.

Gair Dance

Gair Dance:
There are several variations found in this dance performance as per the performing group. This is performed by both men and women. Generally, the men wear long, pleated tunic that open out into full length skirts as they move first in clockwise then anti clockwise directions. Men are beating the sticks that are holding in their hands to create a rhythm. According to rhythm, they perform various steps & take turns in-between. It is a folk dance of the Bhil community, which is performed at the festival of Holi. Some of its variations are the Dandi Gair found in the Marwar region and Geendad found in the Sehkhawati region.

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 & proficiency, it is danced with a series of intricate pattern steps. The striking of sticks gives the dance a vigorous character & consistent tempo. Gair dances by Bhil folk are performed with wearing colorful dresses and carrying swords, arrows and sticks. It is the major attraction of people.


Kachhi Ghodi Dance:
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 riding on 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 fifes and drums. During the performance, a ballad singer sings & exploits of the bandit Robin Hoods of Rajasthan.

Men in elaborate costumes ride the equally well-decorated dummy horses. However, they hold naked swords in their hands, they move rhythmically on the beating of drums and fifes.

Kachhi Ghodi Dance

Kalbeliya Dance

Kalbeliya Dance:
The Kalbeliyas, a snake-charmer community from Rajasthan performs this dance. They rely heavily on this dance performance for their living.

The Kalbeliya women dancers wear long, black coloured, drindled-skirts heavily worked with embroidery and light-coloured thread along with small pieces of mirrors. This get-up draws the attention in a somewhat strange way. Black is the base colour of these dresses looks amazingly elegant.

As they move in a circle, their body sways acrobatically, leaving an impression that they are made up of some flexible material like rubber. The beat of dance increases in tempo afterwards and with it the pace increases at such a pitch that it leaves viewer as exhausted as the dancer. The overall performance consists of many fearful actions performed by dancers.

An average man is fearful from the snakes and all kind of reptiles but Kalbeliyas made a living out of it. They were the `snake-squad`, ridding your home and farms of pests. Their actual fun of their performance can be enjoyed at the gatherings somewhere around the festival of Holi. They rely heavily to the music of `been` and `duff`. Their women whirl and sway in village fairs. The pace during the performance is fast, and enhanced with their colourful costume and attractive & intended body movements. Crowds gather at the arena of performance and on becoming happy may throw a few pennies for the dancers. This is the Kalbeliya`s extra income.

The dance is usually performed by a group of two women standing in the center of the stage. After this pair another pair of women comes & dances in the same way. The dancers are required to constantly decrease the tempo of their gyrations and move to the corners to catch their breath while two other dancers would spin around to take their places in the center. The specialty of this dance is that the dancers perform it in a beautiful synchronized rhythm that for a moment the audience feels it is the same dancers that continue throughout the performance.


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.

For a performance, a small stage is set where puppeteers show puppetry & narrate the story. The puppetry or Kathputli of Rajasthan is accompanied with ballads. In the performance, music or ballad plays an important role as the entire performance is based upon the ballad. Sometimes, the puppeteer makes use of various sound effects to achieve the reality impact & give a quality entertainment. The puppeteer shows all his skill to make puppets dance on his tunes. The performance of Kathputli of Rajasthan is performed during fairs and festival occasions.

Puppeteers are moving from many villages therefore, it is considered as a travelling form of entertainment. Many times, puppeteer is assisted by his family members in shifting positions of puppets on stage. Puppets are fixed on stage in fact they are strung on the stage for the performance. It recounts historic anecdotes, replay tales of love, and include much screeching and high-pitched sound as the puppet twirl and move frenetically at the time of performance.


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