Indian folk dances and tribal dances celebrate every occasion, whether it is to welcome the seasons or a new born baby. The Indian folk dances have a special meaning during weddings and festivals. Simple and joyful, the folk dances of India have their own unique significance. So, come let’s discover the beautiful tribal and folk dances of India.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The fascinating Nicobarese dance is performed by the tribal people of Car Nicobar Island on the Pig Festival or the Ossuary feast. Costumed in coconut fronds, this dancers dance away the moonlit night under the swaying palms.
Thapetta Gullu is the tribal dance of Andhra Pradesh, performed by a group of 10 or more. This dance in the praise of the local deity is performed with drums and tinkling bells.
Dandiya - Folk Dance of India
The folk dance of Arunachal Pradesh is called Bardo Chham, which is performed by Sherdukpens. The dance depicts the triumph of good over evil.
Karma or Munda, as this traditional tribal dance is called, is performed by men and women by circling around the Karma tree of good fortune and dancing in the rhythm of drums.
Panthi, performed by the Satnam community dancers is a folk dance of religious and spiritual significance. The dance is performed around a jaitkhamb on the occasion of Maghi Purnima. The Raut Nacha is the other folk dance of Chhattisgarh performed by yaduvanshis or yadavs as a tribute to Lord Krishna.
The Tarangamel folk dance of Goa is performed by the rainbow costumed youths on the festivals of Holi and Dussehra. Streamers and multi-colored flags are the main props of this dance. The other popular folk dances of Goa are Kunbi dance, koli dance, samayi nritya, jagar, gonph, dekhni, tonnya mell and ranmale.
The folk dances of Gujarat are Garba, Padhar, Raas, tippani and bhavai. Garba dance is performed during Navratri in circular movement patterns with clapping. The Bhil tribes perform the tribal dance of Padhar with interesting movements that depict sea waves and roving mariners. The vibrant and energetic dance of Raas is a mock fight dance that uses polished sticks or dandiya.
The Kinnauri Nati is a beautiful hillside folk dance of Himachal Pradesh which enacts all the activities involved in the crop fields like sowing and reaping. The Namagen folk dance of Himachal Pradesh celebrates the autumn season.
Bhangra - Folk Dance of India
The folk dances of Haryana are Saang, chhathi, khoria, dhamal, ghoomar, raslila, jhumar, gugga and loor. While many of these folk dances are performed during weddings and festivals, there are several other dances which are dedicated to different seasons and harvests.
Yakshagana is the popular dance drama of Karnataka which involves songs, dance, music, story, acting and dialogues. The elements of Yakshagana comprise both classical and folk dance forms. There is another folk dance popular in Karnataka. It is called Dollu Kunitha, where the men from the Shepherd community perform an artful dance with various acrobatic movements and drumming.
The tribal dance of Kashmir is called Dumhal, which is performed by men belonging to the Wattal tribe. The performers are costumed in colorful robes and beaded conical cabs.
The folk dance of Lakshadweep called Lava is performed by the people living in Minicoy Island. The dancers dress in multicolored dresses and a headgear. Each dancer carries a drum and they dance in prolific movements in the rhythm of the drum beats and song.
Cheraw - Folk Dance of India
Madhya Pradesh has three different folk dances called Tertali, Charkula and Jawara. Tertali tribal dance is performed by a group of 2 to 3 women belonging to the Kamar tribe. The Charkula dance is more popular in Braj, which is especially performed the next day after holi. This dance which is dedicated to Lord Krishna and his consort Radha, is performed by women who dance with mult-tiered pyramids on their head, alight with oil lamps. The jawara dance is performed by the men and women of Bundelkhand with jawara baskets on their heads.
The Kokna tribal dance also called Pavri Nach or Tarpha Nach, is popular in the hilly regions of Maharashtra. The main accompaniment used in this dance is an wind instrument called pavri or tarpha.
Thang Ta and Dol Cholam are the folk dances of Manipur. While the former is a dances form which incorporates martial art moves and with a display of traditional warfare, the latter is a drum dance performed during the Holi festival.
The folk dance of Mizoram is the Cheraw dance where groups of four performers dance holding two pairs of bamboos, weaving patterns as they dance.
The tribal dance of Nagaland is called Chang Lo or Sua Lua. In the earlier times, this dance was performed by the people of Chang tribe to celebrate victory over enemies. These days, this wonderful dance is performed during the festival of Poanglem in Nagaland.
Chhau Nach - Folk Dance of India
Ghumara or Ghumra is one of the most popular folk dance forms in Orissa. The other popular folk dances of Orissa are Ruk Mar Nacha or Chhau nach, goti pua, Nacnī, Keisabadi, Karma Naach, Dhap, Dalkhai and Baagh Naach. Apart from these, there are other Odissi folk dances as well which include Rasarkeli, Sajani, Chhata, Daika, Bhekani, Maila Jada, Gunchikuta, Chhiollai, Jaiphul, Dauligit, Humobauli and Bayamana.
Garadi is the famous folk dance of Pondicherry. The dance continues for 5 to 8 hours and is performed in almost every festival in Pondicherry. The dance depicts the legend of Ramayana.
Bhangra is the popular folk dance of Punjab. The instruments accompanied in this dance performance include dhol, table and chimta. The dancers wear traditional Punjabi attire for this dance and this dance is popularly performed in the harvest season. Giddha, jhoomer, dhamalan, danker, sammi, dandass, ludi and jindua are the other folk dances of Punjab.
Kalbelia is the folk dance of Rajasthan, performed by women dancers of the Kalbelia community. This dance has serpent like movements.
Singhi Chham, a masked dance is the tribal dance of Sikkim. This dance depicts the snow lion, which is the decreed the guardian deity of Sikkim. The dancers wear furry costumes for this performance.
The folk dances of Tamil Nadu are Kamandi or Kaman Pandigai, Kummi, Kolattam, Mayil Attam, Poikal Kudirai Attam and Theru Koothu. Most of these rural dances are dedicated to festivals, Gods and Goddesses.
Hojagiri is the folk dance of Tripura, where the dancers perform fascinating acrobatic feats in rhythm.
The folk dances of West Bengal are gambhira, kalikapatadi, Nacnī, alkap and domni. The gambhira is a themed dance depicting social issues while kalikapatadi is a dance depicting the calming down of angry Goddess Kali by Lord Shiva. The Alkap dance is associated with the Gajan festival.