Folk Music & Dance

          Harmonious diversity | Musical instruments | Folk dances | Famous artistes

Music and dance are deeply ingrained in the life of Rajasthanis. The cool stillness of the desert after the searing heat of the day and the upsurge of life in the short-lived rainy season or spring are filled with soulful, full-throated music and rhythmic dance.

Harmonious diversity

All the regions of Rajasthan have their distinct folk entertainment. The dance styles differ and so do the songs. Interestingly, even the musical instruments are different.

The hilly tracts of central and southern Rajasthan are rich in community entertainments because of the lifestyle of tribes like the Bhils, Meena, Banjaras, Saharias and Garasias.
The Jogis were well-known for their recitation of the great ballad Nihalde Sultan, Shivji-ka-byawala and songs about Gopi Chand and Bhartrihari. Most of these musical communities live a rural base and function as wandering minstrels traveling from village to village. There are many other artists in different art forms who use music as an accompaniment.

Eastern Rajasthan is fertile  and affluent, with plenty of patrons to sustain professional entertainers like the Bhats, Kamads, Bhopas, Kacchi Ghodi dancers and Kathputli (puppeteer).
There is a great tradition of popular poetry, which is written under the rival banners of Turru and Kalangi. This is a sung in groups in Jikri, Kanhaiyya or Geet(of the Meenas), Hele-ke-Khyal and Bam Rasiya of Eastern Rajasthan. Group singing of classical bandishes, called the Dangal or taalbandi is also unique to this region. Bhopas are singing priests of various deities or warrior saints. The Bhopas of Mataji wear costumes and play the Mashak.

People in the harsh scantily-populated desert areas of Western Rajasthan have very little leisure for merrymaking. Therefore, in this region, entertainment is provided by  professional performers like the Bhats, Dholis, Mirasis, Nats, Sargadas and Bhands.

Folk traditions and classical forms found royal patronage in Rajasthan. A major school of the sophisticated classical Kathak dance form originated in Jaipur, as did Dhrupad singing. The rulers of Jaisalmer extended patronage to the Manganiyar community.

State and royal patronage elevated some of these musicians into Kalawants in the royal courts. Their music had acquired a sophistication that was absent from the rustic tones of the others. The famous Maand of RAjasthan, which is a unique style of singing and a core melody, is their creation. True to its desert environment, the Maand speaks of love, separation, chivalry and revelry. Ballads are an integral part of the professional repertoire and Dhola Maru, Moomal-Mahendra, Doongji-Jawarji, Galaleng, Jala-Boobna, Nagji-Nagwatnti are the most popular ones. The Mahabharat and the Ramayan are popular themes for ballads and the Mirasis and Jogis of Mewat have a delightful folk version of the former, while Hadoti has the Ramayan of Dhai kadi.

The State Government has provided patronage and opportunities for self employment for folk artists by organizing festivals and cultural programs. It has also aroused and directed the interest of the local people towards our rich cultural heritage.

Musical Instruments

The haunting melody of Rajasthan evokes from a variety of delightfully primitive looking instruments. The stringed variety include the Sarangi,  Rawanhattha, Kamayacha, Morchang and Ektara.

Percussion instruments come in all shapes and sizes from the huge Nagaras and Dhols to the tiny Damrus. The Daf and Chang are a big favourite of the Holi (the festival of colours) revellers.

Flutes and bagpipers come in local flavours such as Shehnai, Poongi, Algoza, Tarpi, Been and Bankia.

Folk Dances

Rajasthan has a very rich and varied cultural heritage. When it comes to culture, Rajasthan has everything in abundance - be it folk dances, drama, music, art or handicrafts.
The dances form an integral part of the lives of Rajasthan's people. Besides ordinary dances there is a dance for every special occassion. These dances reveal the talents of dancers, traditions of countryside and communal harmony.

A brief description of some prominent dances :

Bhawai Dance :

The Bhawais are professional dancers, their dances being face from religion or superstition, These dances are very fast, energetic, imaginative and reflect day to day life. Women never participate in these performances.

Chari or Pot Dance :

This dance requires a lot of patience and balance. The dancers carry brightly lit brass pots on their heads, displaying many flexible movements of the body. It is a dance of gay occassions.

Dandiya :

This dance is performed during Holi, a colourful spring festival. Men and women performed separately or together, holding short wodden stricks in both the hands. The dance begins with a slow tempo of stick beats and speeds up gradually.

Gangaur :

This dance is performed by young girls and married ladies in the month of March. The performers pray to Goddess Parvati while dancing. The performers dress up in beautiful clothes and jewelry carrying brass pots filled with green grass, leaves and flowers on their heads.

Ghoomar :

The dance is performed during special occassions. The dancers dance in a ring or circle starting with slow music, the tempo increasing gradually. This dance is performed by the women folk and is the most famous dance of Rajasthan.

Kachhi Ghodi :

One of the most interesting dances where the dancer rides a dummy mare (Kachhi Ghodi). The dancer does the foot work with the heat of the drum.

Raas :

Lord Krishna's beautiful and symbolic dance with Gopis is a delightful representation with deep philosophical meaning. This dance depicts - 'Thus should man love God'.

Terah Taal (Thirteen Beats) :

This is a dance of professional expertise where the dancer performs with the help of hollow metallic discs (Manjeeras) tied on the hands, legs and foreheads - a thirteen different places. The performers, mostly ladies, start beating these manjeeras at thirteen different places in rhythms with the music.

Famous artistes

Apart from many folk musicians and dancers who have risen to fame, Rajasthan has also produced some of the finest classical artistes of all times. You can read more about them by clicking here.



Complete information about Rajasthan

Copyrightę2000-2001. All Rights reserved.