Folk Dances of Rajasthan
Ghoomar folk dance from Rajasthan

Folk Dances of Rajasthan

Rajasthan being famous for its traditions and its rich culture, is enriched with many forms of folk dances which are skillful, attractive and also enjoyable. These dance forms are very different from the other traditional forms as only skilled people can perform these.

1. GHOOMAR:
Ghoomar is probably the most popular dance form and not just in Rajasthan but all over India. This dance form is performed by women on festivals and special events. They sway hands, beat their palms and spin around while singing there traditional songs. They wear a traditional outfit which includes ghagra (a long skirt) and a choli (a blouse) and a veil covering their face.

HISTORY: This dance form was introduced by the Bhil tribe. It was performed as a worship to the goddess Saraswati. Years after the Bhil tribe was defeated by the Rajputs; but years later both the Bhil tribe and the royal communities lived in harmony. With that the royal communities including the Rajputs embraced some of the traditions and practices of the Bhils.

PLACES: Jodhpur, Udaipur, Kota and Bundi.

women dancing
Ghoomar folk dance from Rajasthan

 

2. KALBELIYA:
Kalbeliya is also known as “snake charmer dance” or “sapera dance” as the dance movements are mostly serpent like. Women dress up in black traditional dresses and dance sensuously to the music played by the men using the traditional instruments like Pungi and Khanjari.

HISTORY: This dance form was introduced by the Kalbeliya nomadic tribes. The men of this tribe used to carry cobras in baskets an roam from door to door while the women accompanied them for livelihood. Since then onwards the Kalbeliya dance form came into picture.

PLACES: Thar Desert, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Pushkar and Jaipur.

 

woman dancing
Kalbeliya folk dance

 

3. KATHPUTLI DANCE:
Kathputli is a dance of wooden puppets which are controlled by a puppeteer, who has his fingers attached to the puppets with strings. The puppeteer performs the act by narrating the stories from Indian mythology and the current social problems around the country.

HISTORY: This dance form was started by the Bhat tribal community several thousands of years ago. At times these puppets were not only a source of entertainment but provided moral and social education.

PLACES: Udaipur and Marwar regions.

 

puppets
Katputli Folk Dance

 

4. BHAVAI:
Bhavai is a ritual where women balancing eight to nine brass or earthen pots on their head dance by standing on the perimeter of a brass plate. Men accompany these women by playing different traditional instruments like sarangi and dholak. It takes years for the women performers to master this dance form.

HISTORY: It is usually performed by women belonging to Kalbelia, Jat, Meena, Bhil or Kumhar tribal communities of the state. The emergence of this dance form can be traced from the household needs of Rajasthan where women used to travel long distances each day with numerous brass or earthen pots on their head to fetch water for their families’ years ago.

PLACES: Jodhpur and Thar Desert regions.

 

woman with pots on her head
Bhavai Folk Dance

 

5. KACHCHHI GHODI:
Kachchhi godhi is a dance form performed by the Rajasthani men dressed up in dhoti-kurta and a turban, who ride a decorative dummy horse and perform dance to depict the stories of local bandits of that region. These dancers generally mock fights using swords to complement the rhythm.

HISTORY: This dance form originated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. It was prevalent in Bhanti and Bhavi communities.

PLACES: Shekhawati region, Jaipur and Udaipur.

6. GAIR:
Gair is a dance form mainly performed during Janmasthami (celebration of birth of Lord Krishna), where men and women dressed in colorful traditional outfits, dance in circles moving in clockwise and anticlockwise directions swinging their arms and feet to the drum beats. The men use long sticks to beat on the ground in rhythm while dancing to the beats, giving special effects to the viewers.

HISTORY: Predominantly performed by the Bhil community. During the Rajputana rule, the Bhil community was employed in the army personnel and hence the movements and the formations in Gair dance form is drawn from the military lives of Bhil then.

PLACES: Shekhawat and Marwar regions.

7. CHAIR:
Chair dance form is performed on special occasions, such as marriages and at the birth of a male child in the house symbolizing love where women dress up in traditional outfits and dance with a brass pot on their head, with a lighted camp in the pot, accompanied by sounds of nagada and dholak.

HISTORY: This ritualistic dance form primarily belonged to the Saini community of Ajmer and Guijans of Kirshangarch.

PLACES: Jodhpur and Shekhawat regions.

 

Women smiling with pots on their heads
Chair folk dance

 

8. CHANG:
Chang dance form is performed in Rajasthan in the festival of Holi and it is also known as dhamal. Men dance to the fast-paced rhythmic beats of the Chang instrument, which is a type of a tambourine. Men dress up as women to play the role of women in the dance.

HISTORY: This dance form originated in the Shekhawati region. This dance was mainly performed during Holi to celebrate the victory of good over evil.

PLACES: Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhunu and Sikan.

Each dance form in this state has a significance to its history and culture. To witness
this culture and traditional folk dances you need to visit this royal state of India.

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