Well-known as “Land of Festivals”, the state of Gujarat celebrates a large number of festivals every year. The celebrations are complemented with music performances and traditional dances based on their rich traditions and culture. Various classical songs, drama and dance forms are practised in Gujarat which is actually popular all over the country. Most of the dance forms are very old. Here is a list of eminent folk dances from Gujarat:
The colourful Dandiya Raas is the most popular dance of Gujarat. This dance form is so famous that it is not only performed in the state but throughout India. Also, known as the ‘stick dance’, it’s a form of dance that is also one of the main features of the most welcomed festivals, Navratri. The word “Raas” signifies Raas dance, which is a form of Raas Leela, an inseparable part of Lord Krishna’s childhood action he used to perform at Vrindavan and Gokul. Dandiya Raas is a simple dance form in which men and women join the dance circle, holding colourful sticks or dandiyas. They wear vibrant attire and dance in pairs forming a concentric circle. Though Dandiya Raas is performed all over the state, but the best Raas dancers are the Kathiawari Raas dancers, from the Saurashtra region.
The name Bhavai got its name from the Sanskrit word “Bhava” meaning feelings or emotions. It’s a classic folk drama of Gujarat which is performed in villages and temple grounds by professional communities, The Bhojakas, The Taragalas from North Gujarat. The Bhavai drama is an endless performance which lasts for the entire night without any stage equipment. It generally includes issues from the social life of the community in the countryside. Women are not allowed to take part in the Bhavai. Thus, the male artists perform women roles, which makes the entire drama more enjoyable. Today, in Gujarat, Bhavai is a living tradition.
A popular folk dance of Gujarat, Garba is performed by the ladies on the occasion of Holi, Sharad Purnima, Basant Panchmi and Navratri. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word “Garbha” meaning womb and “Deep” meaning a lamp. The dance dedicated to Goddess Amba is performed around Goddess Amba or a central lamp. An earthen pot with a lamp inside is carried on the head by the women and moved in circles, complemented with musical instruments, clapping of hands and snapping of fingers. The movements depict the cycle of life from birth till death. Women look beautiful as they wear flashy ghaghra, choli, bandhani dupattas along with silver jewellery. Nowadays, men also join the dance wearing Vajani, Kediyum and turban.
Originating from Chorwad district, Tippani is a folk dance popular among the Koli and Kharva people of the coastal region. After a day of tiresome labour, the people relax with music and dance. In this dance, women strike the floor with long sticks known as Tippani. With simple musical instruments like a Thali and a Turi, dancers produce the music. The pulsing musical process makes the folk escape the gruelling and boring nature of work. This dance is one of the examples of the virile dance forms of the folk dances in the state of Gujarat. Tippani is mainly performed on festivals like Diwali, Holi and wedding ceremonies. The folk costumes are also traditional and typical consisting of a short coat called Kedia and tight trousers or churidars, colourfully embroidered caps, turbans and waist-band.
One of the popular folk dance, Padhar dance is performed by the people of Padhar community. Well- known as ancient communities of the state, Padhar people are the followers of Hinduism and they worship various forms of Goddess Durga. This community has been given scheduled caste status and speak Gujarati. When performing the Padhar dance form, the people are in a mood of frenzy and excitement thus indulging in a lot of fun, dance, music and merry -making. The dance form portrays the rich culture and traditions of the place and also show the hardships of the people, their way of accepting the challenges and overcoming them. The dancers wear normal dhoti and kurta while performing the dance. The head is covered with the tied piece of cloth giving a graceful and pleasant look to the performance.
Dance is the best way to express the emotions and sentiments that are tough to put across in words. The dances also show the lifestyle of people in a specific region.Thus, all the above dance forms depict the rich tradition and culture of the state of Gujarat.