Folk Dances of North India - Informative & researched article on Folk Dances of North India
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Folk Dances of North India
Folk Dances of North India are the passing reflection of the harmonious civilization of the region with the light of cultural renaissance formulating them, constructing them to the brim.
 Folk Dances of North India is bathed by the regional freshness of the North. When it comes to the North Indian States, the folk dance, folk culture is in sync with the idyllic reservoir of the pulsating, brimming life of the mass. Dance becomes the language of the soul amidst the mountain dwellers and the valley populace. Folk Dance of North India projects the solidarity of the common mass in short.

Folk dance of Uttarakhand has a faraway reflection of the mountain vegetation. It was given the present shape and named Uttarakhand and became the 27th Indian state with independent state assembly. Earlier though many a rulers have taken turns to rule this place known as Devbhoomi, the land of Gods, because of the innumerous holy site in the small place.

Amidst the un-spoilt and serene canvas of this state, Uttarakhand has a wonderful cultural and traditional heritage that has been followed for centuries. And the culture of Uttarakhand is confined within the folk dances. The folk & tribal communities in Uttarakhand perform many seasonal dances. Some of such dances are Jhumeila, the Chaufula of Garhwal region and the Hurka Baul from Kumaon. They form a part of seasonal dances which are performed from 'Basant Panchami' to 'Sankranti' or 'Baisakhi'. Jhumeila is sometimes mixed but is usually restricted to women, whereas the Chaufula is a spinning dance performed by all sections of the community, at night, in groups by men and women. These folk songs are composed for the appreciation of nature during various occasions. These folk songs all derive their names from the concerned folk dances, which are the seasonal dances performed to express joy & celebrate the arrival of new season.

Folk Dances of North India Hurka Baul dance is performed during the cultivation of paddy and maize in the farms. On a fixed day, after performing the preliminary ritual, the dance is performed in different fields with different tunes. The dance is named according to the Hurka, which is the drum used for musical accompaniment in the performance of the dance and Baul is the song.

Even the green heaven; Sikkim which is tagged as the home of God boasts of the dancing culture, the rhythms of the folk dance flowing sing song within the valleys. There are various dances which are prevalent in Sikkim, all of these are very colourful in nature. Most of the dances relate to the beauty of the natural surroundings, some depict the harvest season while others are performed for good luck and prosperity.

Nepali Folk Dance-Maruni is mainly associated with the festival of Tihar meaning 'Festival of Light'. But because of its popularity it is performed even on occasions like marriages. Tihar is celebrated to mark the return of the Hindu god Rama from exile. During this festival Maruni dancers are richly dressed in colourful costumes and resplendent with ornaments. They also use nose rings called 'dungris' and with all these they used to go on a house to house visit. The dancers are usually also accompanied by a clown called 'Dhatu waray'. Sometimes Maruni dances are performed to the accompaniment of the nine instrument orchestra known as 'Naumati Baja'.

Nepali Folk Dance-Tamang Selo dance is performed to the rhythmic sound of the 'Dhamphu' musical instrument which the dancers carry in their hands. Therefore this dance is also called the 'Dhamphu Dance'. Lepcha Folk Dance-Zo-Mal-Lok -This dance portrays the sowing and the subsequent harvesting of paddy. The dance is performed by the Lepcha farmers to reduce the drudgery and monotony of working in the fields. Bhutia Folk Dance Tashi Sabdo -This dance describes the custom of offering 'Khadas' or scarves.

Folk dance of Nagaland forms the main component of the traditional culture of the people of Nagaland in India. Folk dances of Nagaland are performed mainly in a synchronized manner in groups by women as well as men, based on the kind of dance. Dances are generally performed in religious and festive occasions. Mainly the Naga men perform war dances. This dance is martial and athletic in style. All the folk dances of Nagaland are performed along with war cries and songs by the dancers. There are several folk dances in Nagaland which are generally performed at the time of harvest. The folk dances of this state are filled with frolic and fun since these dances are performed when the people of Nagaland are enjoying a special event. Each Naga tribe has its own dance, but they have a common feature. All the folk dances of Nagaland require the using of legs while keeping the body in an upright position.

It is noticed in a majority of the cases that the folk dances of Nagaland are performed predominantly by males. However, the Zeliang tribe of Nagaland permits their women to take part in the folk dances with men. During a performance, the participants start entering slowly into the stage or arena with some distinctive movements and stand making a circle or other geometrical shape. After that, the dancers adjust the beats and then start dancing by stamping the foot on a continuous pace. The dances of this tribe are interspersed by chanting some set words in chorus and the clapping of hands. These shouting and chanting provides inspiration to every member of the group.

After forming a circle, the dances make attack on the opposite party or an imaginary enemy with the spears which they hold in their hands. They swing these weapons as per the rhythm of dance, in order to create a beautiful musical background. The Nagas dress themselves in ceremonial war-type costume and brass and silver ornaments and other ornaments made of iron in order to beautify their look in the dance. As a result of the regional differences, some changes of very small quantity there observed in the pattern of dance among the Nagas. In general, this dance involves the upright body position at upper part, while the unbent or straight knees always keep equilibrium of movements.

Kashmir also has its own share of festivities and glamour, when it comes to practicing the folk dances. 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.

Dumhal Dance is a 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.

Kud Dance
Kud Dance 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 and 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. Again Folk dances of Haryana represent the main folk culture of this state. Many Haryana songs and dances are related to harvest and festivals. As long as there are agricultural festivals in the state, there will always be a distinctive Haryani folk tradition of dance and music, entertaining the whole India.

Phag Dance
This dance form is performed by the farmers in the month of Phalgun. Both men and women can perform this dance. During performance women wear colourful traditional cloths where men wear colourful turbans. Saang dance is a popular dance form of Haryana, reflecting its culture in true sense. A group comprising of people in even numbers such as ten or twelve persons performs it. The dance mainly reflects religious stories and folk tales that are performed in open places and it lasts for 5 hours. Some of the male participants dress up as women to perform the part of the female in the dance. The meaning of 'Saang' or 'Swang' is disguise or 'to impersonate'. It is believed that this dance form first originated and then evolved in its present form by Kishan Lal Bhaat in 1750 AD.

Chhathi Dance
In many places of India, the birth of new child is celebrated with pleasure. Chhathi dance is also a ritualistic dance, performed at the same occasion. But, this dance is performed only on the birth of a male child. Women perform this dance on the sixth day of the birth. It is a romantic dance and performed during the night. At the end of the celebration, boiled wheat and chanaa are distributed to all the members who are present for the performance.

Khjoria Dance
The Khjoria dance is a collective form of the variety of the Jhumar dance style and steps, exclusively performed by the women. This dance is popular in the central region of Haryana and is connected with the daily affairs of the people and with the most important events like the harvest, agricultural work, etc. The Dhamal dance is famous in the Gurgaon area, which is inhabited by Ahirs. This dance is performed only by men. It is said that the people perform this dance whenever their crop is ready for the purpose of the harvest.

(Last Updated on : 03/08/2013)
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