Bacha Nagma Dance – A Popular Folk Dance of Kashmir

Kashmir, a paradise on Earth, hosts one of the serene beauty of Mother Nature. Together with its intriguing and captivating charm, it also puts forward a land enriched with prolific tradition and culture. The folk dances of Kashmir upholds the rich art and heritage of its historical values. Bacha Nagma is a very popular folk dance performed by the young boys of Kashmir. The main purpose behind the dance form to express jubilance during the harvest season.

The distinctive feature of Bacha Nagma dance is the boys perform while being dressed up like a girl. The dance occupies a special place in the folklore of Kashmir. It is performed during parties and get-together where people socialize with each other. During festivals and religious occasions too, the dance is conducted with grace and grandeur. The audience is entertained by the jubilant movements of the performers accompanied by very loud music.

The Performance

Though the main reason for presenting the Bacha Nagma dance is to celebrate the harvest season in Kashmir, in modern times it is performed on many auspicious occasions or social gatherings. It highlights the spirit of the people of Kashmir to uplift and carries on the heritage of the place.

It is amazing to watch the young boys appearing in the stage camouflaged within the attire of a girl. They wear long skirts in vibrant colours. Their face is beautifully adorned to represent that of a girl. The dancers move around the dance stage with wonderful dignified movements. The poised nature of the dance, simple yet lively, enthralls the audience. The music is loud and is an inherent part of the dance form. Without the music, the performance does not attain its exquisite charm and sophistication.

Bacha is a word colloquial language, the meaning of which is a kid or a small boy. Nagma on the other hand is known as celebration. Hence it is basically a celebration of the dancers who are mainly kids or young boys.

How is the dance performed?

The dance is usually performed by highly skilled and brilliant young performers. Each one of them is competent and accomplished in their genre of dance. Their proficiency in executing the dance is well appreciated and admired by many tourists and the locals. The dancers follow the Hafiza pattern of the dance. They receive adequate and expert training to adopt the Hafiza dance form of Kashmir.

Hafiza is also a popular dance form in Kashmir performed by the girls. It is mainly performed during weddings and marriage parties. The dance form is elegant and graceful. It showcases the stylish movement of the dancers as the smoothly sway themselves with the musical beats.

The songs accompanied by the dance is also a delight to hear. The songs are sung by the young boys with sweet voices which astonishes the audience. Some of the songs are written in Sufi Kalam.  Sufi Kalam is a song form, dedicated to the divine power and spirit. While other songs contain lyrics that resemble the Persian style of literature. Nowadays the lyrics are composed to represent a fun theme or a comedy to allure the observers. The change and modification have been brought in to mingle with the modern thoughts of the new generation.

Many tourists take pleasure in attending the Bacha Nagma dance as part of their bucket list while visiting the heaven of Earth, Kashmir. The history of the dance is said to date back several years ago. It is essentially performed by a group of seven members or less. One of the dancers is empowered to be the lead singer while others follow him in chorus.

Historical Significance

Bacha Gyavaun is another name by which the dance is also well known in certain parts of Kashmir. There is a belief among the locals that the concept of the boys dancing in female attire has a historical significance which dates back during the rule of the Mughal emperor, Akbar. After Kashmir was captured by Akbar, he made an attempt to diminish the gallantry of the men residing in the place. In this attempt, he enforced the men to dress up like the women to prevent them from disclosing their heroism and bravery.

Few studies by eminent academic personnel reveal that the dance form was promoted by the Afghans in Kabul. The dancers not only wear the dress of a woman but they also beautify themselves with various ornaments and jewelry. The dance movements are performed with such dignity and expertise that it is almost impossible to distinguish the boys with that of the dance performances of girls. It is a distinct credit of the young boys, dancing and singing simultaneously with the music.

Though in the modern era, there has been several alterations in the song and the dance, yet it is essential to respect the old traditional dance form and enliven it.

Featured Photo of ‘Photo WA-1916L’ by Public.Resource.Org under CC BY 2.0

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