(Last Updated on : 28/11/2012)
Indian Tribal Dances are performed strictly by aboriginal populations in the country. These people, sometimes denominated as adivasi, possess a culture, distinct from the pan Indian population, the cosmopolitan urban populace. It may be noted here that Indian tribal dances are vastly dissimilar from Indian folk dances; there is no thread that binds the two. A common example of a tribal dance is the Santhali Dance
, indigenous from West Bengal
. Other tribal dances of India include the Dhimsa dance
by Oriya tribes, the Dhimsa dance, yet another tribal dance from Andhra Pradesh
, the Nagaland
tribal dances. Each of these aboriginal tribes possesses their own distinguishable dance traditions and invariably all of them are interwoven with the life of the people who perform the same.
In some instances of Indian tribal dances, the dancing is simple and comprises of little more than insignificant mixing of the feet or waving of the hands. At other times it is just swaying of the body to the clapping of hands, or beating of primitive drums to designate time. Yet another tribal dance form demonstrates only the monotonous movement of the hands and feet. But, generally speaking, a wide range of movement requiring all parts of the body, the head, back, hips, arms, fingers and the feet and even facial muscles are employed in tribal dances.
There exist extremely complicated Indian tribal dances as well, in which dancing mixes with gesture, evincing the whole spectrum of sentiment. In such instances, the rhythm is maintained by swaying the body and intricate steps executed with expert foot-work. Usually the dances begin in a slow note, gathering momentum in the middle and working up to a heavy tempo.
Some Indian tribes pen down their songs themselves to accompany their dances. Either the dancers sing themselves or the onlookers sing and participate. Special musical instruments for Indian tribal dances are also utilised at times, but the drum is almost a requisite feature.
Costumes of the dancers vary from estimated bareness to full attire and ornaments which are exceedingly colourful and ornate. Tribal people make up an indispensable segment of the teeming millions in the country. India owns the second largest tribal sects in Kerala. Paniya, Adiya, Urali, Kattunaikka, Irula, Muduva, Aranadan are the high-flying tribal communities. Some of the more well known tribal dances of Kerala include Elelakkaradi, Kadarkali, Kurumbarkali, Paniyarkali, Edayarkali, Mudiyattam and Vedarkali.
Apart from Kerala
, each state and union territories in India has their unique tribal dance forms. The remarkable Indian tribal dance "Brato" of Bengal is essentially an in-vocational dance, preferred by barren women, worshipping their presiding deity after entreaties for progeny is answered. The legendary "Bihu" dance of Assam
is part of the Bihu Utsav after the harvest season is over. Both men and women perform it in daylight.
Islands possess its own folk dance form, named the "Lava". The Dadra and Nagar Haveli
tribals have their amiable dance form of "Tarpa", in which the dancers tap their feet on moonlit nights, encircling the "Tarpakar" to dance past midnight. This specific Indian tribal dance is heavily accompanied by music. The "Bhavada" dance utilises masks and colourful costumes in the Dadra and Nagar Haveli region. The state of Tripura, with its large tribal population of Riangs, who venerate both tribal and Hindu Gods
, survives on agriculture. To certify a good harvest, they mollify Goddess Lakshmi
by a dance of young maidens named the "Hawaii".
Andhra Pradesh houses many tribal sects such as the Bhanjaras, Chenchus and Mathuris. In the "Dandaria dance", apart from instruments, time is also maintained by striking sticks one against the other. The Bhanojaras and the Lambadis have costumes of light hues and skirts and blouses studded with small mirrors. Their dance form is called "Bhanjara".
, the Toda and the Kurumba tribals of Kerala, have rites, rituals and ceremonies, all revolved around agriculture. Kummi and Kolattam are the two most famous folk dances performed by the tribal women of Tamil Nadu. In Kummi, claps maintain the beat, while in Kollattam beat is sustained by striking two sticks. In this form of Indian tribal dance, each dancer possesses two sticks often painted in dazzling colours. In "Pinnal Kolattam", some divisions of the group systematically work up a visual pattern, lacing coloured ropes together, hung from a peg in the ceiling, synchronous with the music. In course of the dance, the "Pinnal" or the plait is also slowly disentangled to synchronise with the music and the ropes are back to their single-strand shape, precisely when the dance and the music stops. The Muslim community of Tamil Nadu possess a monopoly over the dance called "Pulli Atam", where the men folk dress ornately like a stripped carnivore, with tail, claws, whiskers and dance in the streets. "Karagam" is another Indian tribal dance form of Tamil Nadu
dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, the Goddess of health and rain. Men and women balance pots of uncooked rice on their heads to the accompaniment of pipes and drums.
"Kunitha" is a generic term, emblematic of a ritualistic dance in Karnataka. In the "punja Kunitha", a wooden structure is balanced on the head with a deity within it. The "Dollu Kunitha" is a much-admired drum dance of Karnataka. The men play on large drums decorated with coloured cloth, slung around their necks, beating on it as they dance. Indian tribal dances are truly varied and umpteen, much like the country's other aspects, united with diversity.