India is a land of rich culture and heritage. And what better feature of the country could depict this than the dance forms of india. The traditional dances of India have different styles. This is so because the dance forms of india belong to varied parts of the country – they originated there and then developed with all the cultural elements.
There are a great many folk dances that belong to separate regions of the country and are mainly performed by the local people of that particular region only. The Indian film dances also hold a significant spot in the culture of the country.
Origin of Dance Forms of India
The dance forms of India have their origin since the ancient Vedic period wherein people used to indulge into singing and dancing for entertainment and recreational purposes. The Vedas hold an elaborate mention of performing arts. The Hindu text Natya Shastra includes all the earliest compilations of the ancient dance forms of india.
From these ancient dance forms of india been derived the classical dances of India. Let’s get an insight into the popular dances of the country.
Originated in 1000 BC, the Bharatanatyam dance belongs to Tamil Nadu in South India. This is mostly performed on Carnatic music. Earlier, the dance was performed only in Hindu temples and at other religious places. Bharatanatyam used to be a solo dance form performed only by women and depicted religious ideas and spiritual themes. During the British era, this dance form was suppressed and ridiculed. However, it went on to become one of the most famous traditional dances of India.
This is the most stylized dance forms of india (basically a dance drama) that belongs to Kerala. Kathakali is a 17th-century dance form which is performed like a story-play and has very colourful and elaborate costumes, makeup, as well as face masks.
Unlike other dance forms of india, Kathakali is performed mainly by men. It was also traditionally performed in temples and religious chambers. The dance movements are incorporated from the ancient athletic traditions and martial arts of South India.
This dance form belongs to North India, and the name ‘Kathak’ has been taken from the Sanskrit work ‘katha’ which means ‘story’. Hence, Kathak is ‘the one who tells the story’. It majorly consists of passionate and childhood stories of Lord Krishna. Kathak has three different forms which belong to, and are also named after three North Indian cities – Lucknow, Banaras and Jaipur. Ghungroo (small bells) is the main element and involves rhythmic body movements with facial expressions.
Kuchipudi is a dance form of Andhra Pradesh. Like other major classical Indian dances, Kuchipudi also has its roots and developed as a religious performing art. According to history, this dance was originally performed by Brahmin males, but now both men and women perform this dance. This is a pure dance forms of india that includes expressions and sign languages.
This dance belongs to Odisha, the coastal state of Eastern India. Odissi is a dance-drama style performing art, practiced traditionally by women to express spiritual themes and religious ideas. The dance is accompanied by musicians, wherein they narrate mythical stories, and the dancers perform wearing symbolic costumes with rhythmic movements, facial expressions and gestures.
As the name suggests, this dance form is from the North-Eastern Indian state of Manipur. This dance forms of india takes its inspiration from the Raslila of Radha-Krishna and depicts such love-inspired dances. Manipuri is performed in a group and has a very unique and special costume called Kumil, which is a beautifully decorated skirt in the shape of a barrel. This is a very graceful dance which majorly involves movements of the upper body.
This dance form of Kerala takes its name from the seductress avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu, Mohini, who lured the evil demons to help good prevail over the bad. Mohiniyattam is a Lasya style dance which is feminine in nature and comprises delicate body movements. This is a slow dance solo performance by women.
So, these were the famous traditional dances of India and a little history about their origins. Other than these, there are other tribal and folk dances too that mark the significance of Indian culture.
India Dance Festivals
India is such a diverse country, and one of the main ways that its diversity is expressed is through its dance. When you have your India visa then you will have the opportunity and pleasure to visit many parts of India to attend some of its dance festivals. The types of dance across India are so different in style and colour, that several trips maybe needed to see such extravaganzas; hence you will also require several Indian visas for these trips. Below are a few of the dance festivals that your India travel visa will allow you to visit:
The Konark Dance Festival
The Konark Dance Festival is based in Konark, Orissa, and is held twice a year, in February and also December. Both times the festival is held in the open air auditiorium grounds in near the sun temple. The sun temple is based approximately 68kilometres from the states capital Bhubaneswar. Note that your normal India visa will allow entry to this region of India. The location is close the the Black Orissi Dance Pagoda, which is a monument that is build of black granite and shows the chariot of the sun god. The dance festival shows the classical forms of the regional dances of India as well as national forms of dance, in a celebration to celebrate Orissa. The dances are held under a huge mandap called the Natya Mandap. The dances styles are typically those from the 19th to the 21st centuries.
The Modhera Dance Festival
One of the most famous dance festivals that your India visa will also allow you to visit is in the state of Gujrat, called the Modhera dance festival. Modhera which is close to the capital of Gujarat, Ahmedabad was build by king Bhimdev many centuries ago. You can enter Gujrarat quite easily with the traditional visa for India for business or tourism purposes.
The festival is held in the sun temple, which is dedicated totally to the lord Surya, otherwise translated as the sun god. The dances on display at the sun temple include classical Gujarati dances. This beautiful festival is held for three days during the month of January. As this is one of the most popular seasons for Indian tourism, be sure to apply early in advance for your India visa, at the VFS offices or via the services or Rapid visas.
The Elephanta Islands Dance and Music Festival
If you are planning on using your India visa to enter via Mumbai, and shall be entering India during the month of February, then the annual festivals held on this small island 10 km from Mumbai harbour is surely to be attended. The island was rename elephanta by the Portuguese after they saw it had elephant carvings inside the walls. This annual festival is arranged to worship the Maheshmurti, or otherwise know as the Shiva-idol which is located in the main caves. As well beautiful dances being put on by professionals, it is also fascinating to see local folk dances being displayed by local fisherman, who also serve their local food.
Indian Art Forms
Art in India has been prevalent from classical times in the traditional manner. The palace of the kings were decorated with urns, vases, wall murals and other arte facts as the community then was chiefly comprised of classes segregated as per job profile.
The caste system was prevalent then but the community was organized and hence they retained the true art forms. Embroidery works of India is very famous and goes from fine embroidery to the ones existing in the Indian wedding ensembles.
Folk art is also related to the fine art category. There are still people and the village folk who have maintained the traditional of song and dance which has transcended from generations. The true worth of our tradition is in our villages and farm lands that speak about our culture. Of late there are many art forms of jewelry and embroidery making that is getting extinct. This could be because many families are not interested in carrying the art work and also that the patronage is not encouraging.
Paintings range in the area from Madhubani, Tanjore, Warli art and Batik art. Fabric painting in the tie and dye pattern is still found in Gujarat and certain parts of Rajasthan. The Patachitra art of Orrissa is a great marvel and is a detailed process where in the making of the canvas itself is an ordeal of five days. Tribal art is related to wood work, interesting decorative items made with branches and twigs.
Earrings and lacquer work is also famous in India. The craftsmen are unique in their creation and it is a great marvel to watch them complete their work in a limited span of time. Beaded jewelry is also a major art work of India. Charcoal paintings and other Indian style of scenic painting on straw is another piece of art.
Beautiful Folk Dances of India
India is a country with diversity in all forms. Like diversity in religions, traditions, languages, costumes, and food choices, the country also boasts of a huge diversity in classical and folk dances. Every dance forms of india is unique to a specific state or religion and is different with respect to its structure, style, and form that encompass uniqueness in costumes, pattern of dancing, and make-up.
Folk dances are actually traditional dances of different state that reflects the traditional beliefs, values, principles, and lifestyle of respective religion. Like for example, Bihu is the folk dance of Assam and is a clear reflection of the cultural beliefs of Assamese.
These dances are mainly performed during rituals and religious ceremonies of a particular community. Most of these are dedicated to worshipping specific God of the specific community. Every community enjoys specific dances belonging to their religion with colorful costumes and traditional jewelries. One thing that is common in all forms is the peace of mind and joy it delivers.
Some of the most popular folk dances of India are from Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
Rajasthan is a hometown of dances like kalbelia dance, chari dance, fire dance, and ghoomar dance. Kalbelia dance is dedicated to the kalbelia community whose main occupation in the history was catching snakes and trading snake venom. Chari dance is a form in which dancers carry a lit brass pot on their heads and showcase a perfect union of patience, balance, and flexibility.
Fire dance is related to the Banjara community and is worth appreciation. The dancers use flame sticks, kerosene oil, and flame rods while dancing. Ghoomar dance belongs to the Rajput community where women dance gracefully to convey the spirit of any holy or religious ceremony.
Punjab is also a hometown of known folk dances. The most popular among them are bhangra and gidda. Bhangra is performed mainly by men during the Baisakhi festival. On the other hand, gidda is a counterpart of bhangra as it is performed by Punjabi women.
Both the dance forms of india are colorful and joyful. People enjoy the beats, rhythm, and even costume of these dances from the state of Punjab.
Garba and dandiya are major folk dances of Gujarat. Garba is a graceful dance that is formerly associated with the legend of Lord Krishna. In the present era it is one of the most popular dance forms across the country that is mainly performed during the nine days of Navratri to please goddess Durga. Dandiya is also energetic and colorful like garba but is played with dandiya sticks.
In the state of Maharashtra lavani dance and dindi dance are very popular. Lavani is a musical form that is dedicated to the celebration of coming of spring season mainly in the Thanjavur district. Dindi is the religious dance form of the state and is mainly performed on the eleventh day of the kartik month.
Apart from these there are many other folk dances across the country. To name few more there is dhamal, gair, gatka, karagam, laathi nauch, kikli, kavadi, saami, sakhi nata, terehtali, mathuri, and luddi. All these forms are amazingly beautiful and are filled with elation, joy, and spirituality.
Gaur – The Gaur dancing is a folk performance in Central India. It is performed by men and women wearing headdresses and peacock feathers.
Dumhal – The Dumhal is a Kashmir folk structure dancing performed by dancers in long robes of vibrant colors and beaded conical caps. This dance is performed during special occasions in theatres and cultural centers.