Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, which is renowned for its natural beauty and quiet lifestyle. But apart from this, Kashmir also has its own share of festivities and glamour, when it comes to practising the folk dances. The folk dances of Kashmir encompass the entire population, as though it is a festival in itself. Some of the unique festivals of Kashmir are as follows:
Bhand Jashna is a famous "festival of clowns" of Kashmir, which also has a legacy of 300 to 400-year-old genre of Kashmiri folk theatre. It is considered as a traditional folk theatre style having combination of play and dance in a satirical style. Thus, it mostly depicts parodies on social situations, expressing many strong sentiments through dance, music and clowning. This art is usually performed in village squares, at many social and cultural functions in front of a large audience. Bhand Jashna is performed by a group of 10 to 15 artists in their traditional style accompanied by musical instruments like the Surnai - a Kashmiri version of the Indian Shehnai, big Dhol, Nagara, and Peshrao.
The famous folk dance of the Kashmiri people is called as Dumhal, performed on set occasions and at set locations. Generally, this dance is performed by only the men folk of Wattal, wearing long colourful robes and tall conical caps, which are usually studded with beads and shells. Apart from dancing, the performers also sing along songs in chorus, tuned with music by various drums. In this dance, groups of performers move in a ritual manner and dig a banner into the ground on various occasions. Usually, after which, the dance begins with men dancing around this banner.
It is a typical community dance, performed in the middle mountain ranges of the Jammu region. The Kud dance is performed during the rainy seasons and it exhibits swaying & sinuous movements. It is basically a ritual dance performed in honor of the Lok Devatas and men, women and children, attired in their best, gather around a bonfire for this nightlong ritual. When the maize is harvested, the villagers gather & come down from the nearby hills in the vicinity of the local deity-the Gramdevta temple. Their feeling behind these rituals is to express their gratitude for protecting their crops, cattle and children from natural calamities.
People of all ages and sexes participate in this folk dance form and musical instruments like Narshingha, chhaina, flute and drums accompany it. Jammu has rich heritage of forms of folk dance and music, which are performed during ceremonies and social functions. `Kud` is also such a dance form performed to please gods during nightlong soirees.