19 December 2015

Folk Dances


In a country with a tradition as rich as India's, we boast of numerous folk dances coming down the generations. Performed at social gatherings, marriage ceremonies and sometimes to pacify the deity during a natural calamity, these dances are basically "a spontaneous overflow of joyous revelry" .

Some of the folk dances of India are listed below:

  • Kolattam (Andhra Pradesh) : -

Also referred to as Kolannulu or Kokolannalu, it is the "stick dance". It is a rural art performed during village festivals, comprising performers ranging from the age of 8 to 40. The dancers, led by a leader, are grouped in pairs and arranged in concentric circles. The inner circle recieves blows on its sticks by the outer circle. The main rhythm is provided by the colliding sticks.

  • Chow (West Bengal) : -

Chow belongs to the area in and around Jhargram. Normally performed during the 'gajan' festival of March, This dance is characterised by bold and vigorous movements made to the beats of the 'dhaak' or 'dhol'. The costume includes elaborately designed masks.

  • Bordo Chham (Arunachal Pradesh) : - 

This folk dance belongs to the Sherdukpens, a small community of the West Kameng district of the state. It involves the depiction of the victory of good over evil. The background of this dance form is interesting. Localites believe that every year, twelve different types of things, representing evil forces, appear each month and come together. The Shardukpen people dance vigorously to the beat of drums and cymbals to battle this accumulated evil.

  • Bihu (Assam ) : -

Bihu is related to the festival of the same name. It is performed by both men and women, and includes rapid hand movements and short steps. The costumes of this form are very colourful. The girls wear saris of mustard and red, whereas the boys wear dhotis and headbands of the same colour . This dance is accompanied by beats from the dhol, pepa (horn) and gangana (instrument made of bamboo) .

  • Jhumur (Assam) : -

This is the traditional dance form of the natives. It is performed either by both men and women together, or by women alone. The dancers use light footsteps while clasping each other's waists tightly. It is performed to the beat of a drum-like instrument called the mandar.

  • Raut Nacha (Chattisgarh) : -

Traditionally a folk dance of the Yadavas (a caste which considers itself to be a part of Krishna's lineage), Raut Naach is performed at the time of Dev Udhni Ekadashi (the period during which the Gods awaken after a short sleep). The dance is almost akin to Raas, in which Lord Krishna dances with the village belles.

  • Dhumal (Jammu and Kashmir) : -

The men of the Wattal tribe perform this dance on specific occasions and  at particular locations.The performers wear long robes and tall, conical, bead-studded hats. The group moves in a procession carrying a banner, which is dug into the ground. Thereafter the men begin to dance around the banner. The dance is accompanied by the vocal singing of the performers and the beats of a drum.

  • Tarangamel (Goa) : -

On the occasions of Dusshera and Holi, young Goanese men and women rush out into the streets carrying colourful streamers(tarang), encouraging one and all to imbibe the festive spirit in themselves, while vivacious chants of "Ho!Ho!" fill the air, echoing the beats of the dhol, romur and tasha. The rainbow hued costumes of the performers and the multi coloured flags and streamers make Tarangamel a visually appealing affair.

  • Garba (Gujarat) : -

This dance is generally performed during Navaratri, customarily by women. It includes circular movements and rhythmic clapping. The name originates from the word "garbha deep " which means the lamp, placed either in the inner sanctum of a temple or inside a perforated pot.

  • Bhangra  (Punjab) : -

 Initially performed during the harvest time, India's most popular folk dance is an extremely energetic dance of celebration. The performers wear traditional Punjabi costumes and jive to the beats of the dhol, chimta and alghoza. Giddha is the female version of Bhangra, performed by women only.

  • Ghoomar (Rajasthan) : -

This traditional dance of the womenfolk was developed by the Bhil tribe of Mewar, and later adopted by the entire Rajasthani community. It comprises of women in flowing skirts called ghagaras, dancing to songs sung by men and women together.


Debopriya Samanta, is an English Honours student from Loreto college, Kolkata. Her interests lie in music, books and movies. Apart from being a dance enthusiast, she is a trained classical dancer herself! Some of her other articles are as follows :-

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