(Last Updated on : 12/07/2013)
Indian Folk dances mark the intense platform encompassing creative extravaganza of different socio-economic set up and traditions. Diverse is India, so is its taste. When it comes to branding of types such as genre, the sky of folk dancing is clouded. These dance forms have originated since time immemorial in the various rural areas; the waves of culture formulating them, enhancing them and civilization acting as its canvas. Folk dances form an integral part of mass culture in India and an apt weapon in the hands of social rustics. In reality, they provide an identity to the culture of the uncultured. Folk art involves the customs, beliefs, art and folk dance of India is no exception.
Origin of Indian Folk Dances
The folk dancers of India perform to express joy or to offer religious reverence. Folk dancing originated among the ordinary common mass, of rural origin before 19th century reflecting the strength and solidarity of common mass. Primitive, undeveloped society witnessed the birth of dance either as a form of ritual or as an entertainment. However, with the onward march of civilization, all art forms assumed some distinctive characteristics. Indian folk dances are performed in groups in villages and remote regions of the countryside, as an essential part of the local rituals and customs. Such dances are practiced during religious, social, cultural and seasonal festivals. Dance is one of the earliest forms of expression which originated in the primitive society to satisfy the desires of the early man. Gradually, the various forms of dances achieved a few distinct features with the passage of time and were classified into different types, according to their regional and cultural characteristics.
Features of Indian Folk Dances
Folk dances, an integral part of the Indian social milieu, have undoubtedly added richness to the culture canvas of India. India is a home to numerous folk dances. Based on the personal belief system, ways of thinking, attitudes, customs, rituals and prejudices and their spontaneous reactions to the sights and sounds of the natural environment, they have the characteristic feature of immense popularity, mass production, mass distribution. These forms of dances are mostly group dances immensely popular among all classes. Hence, generally, folk dancing is viewed as more of a social concern activity rather than a competitive one. Participation of both male and female counterparts is seen and moreover the distinction of class caste is generally not viewed. However, there are different styles and this involves separate approach for both men and women.
On most of the occasions, the dancers sing while being accompanied by artists on musical instruments highlighting the bonding force. Every rural community is pregnant with its own folk dances performed on specific occasions such as the birth of a child, to celebrate the arrival of new seasons, weddings and festivals. Charismatic distinctive performances with the specific costumes, ornaments are made of bead, precious stones
or metals like gold
and silver, special ornaments to add grace in its look all glorify the part and parcel of folk dance. In the tribal community various varieties of ornaments inherently shape up the folk dance as unique. Colourful and specific costumes of dance and ornaments thus coin an identity to folk dance. However, in many cultures, the term ethnic dance or traditional dance form is used to indicate folk dance.
Types of Indian Folk Dances
Bhangra Dance, Punjab
'Bhangra' is the most popular folk dance of Punjab
, which is performed with musical instruments like 'tabla
' and others. Gorgeous, classical Punjabi costumes are clad by the local men and women and this dance is performed at weddings and social festivals. Bhangra dance is practised not only in India, but also abroad.
Garba Dance, Gujarat
Generally performed by the womenfolk, 'Garba' dance includes rhythmic clapping, along with circular manner of movement and is practiced especially during 'Navaratri
'. The term Garba is derived from 'garbha deep' which implies the lamp inside an earthenware pot or the light which glows inside the temple sanctum sanctorum.
'Bihu' dance is a folk dance performed during the regional festival of Bihu
in Assam. Brisk dance movements are done by men and women. Traditional, colourful Assamese garments are worn by the dancers.
, Tribal Dance, Eastern India
'Chhau' dance is a martial dance form, which is performed in the states of West Bengal
. There are three styles of Chhau dance, which is immensely popular in Purulia
district of West Bengal.
'Padeyeni' is one of the most significant folk dances of Kerala which is associated with some regional temple festivals, particularly in Kottayam
, Quilom, Pathanamthitta
and Aleppey districts of Kerala. Masks of various shapes are worn by the dancers.
Other Folk Dances of India
, Matki, Charkula
Raas are the other forms quite popular in India as folk dance. Many a times, folk dances are termed as per the name of the accessory used. The tribal dances are dances by 'adivasis', who platform a very different culture from their fellow Indians. Indian folk dances include different skill and style; steps of the dances influence the final performance of the dance in each case. Most of the costumes, worn for folk dances, are colourful with extensive jewels and designs. The folk dances of India are performed with extremely simple and minimum steps or movement and full of energy and vitality.
Human civilisation first thrived on various signs and gestures to communicate as for example the cavemen who used various commoditised signals. Later progressive march of civilization saw the signals metamorphosing into 'mudras
' of dance having an aesthetic undertone of subconscious drive to communicate. Folk dances of India maintaining the taste of India reassures the same. The folk dances of India can be categorised into two major categories: folk and tribal. Cultural differences colours both the forms; the folk dances are the rural extensions of the larger Indian population.