India as a country exhibits great diversity in relation to the “dance forms/styles” available. Now there are two types of basic dance forms available in the country i.e. folk and classical/traditional dance. In terms of “diversity” however it is folk dances due to its incredible variety that stands out as compared to the more classical form, which is extremely limited. Furthermore, despite the fact that there is variety with regards to folk dances, one must understand that only a few of them are popular. So here is presenting a list of 6 such “popular Indian folk dance forms”.

A. Garba- Gujarat:

Performed to honour the power of “Goddess Shakti” is a folk dance originating from the state of Gujarat referred to as “Garba”. Performed mainly during the auspicious Navaratri festival this dance involves males and females dancing in a circle using swirling and vigorous body movements in synch to the beats of highly energetic music. Furthermore, costumes used in this folk dance are extremely colourful with females using “a chaniya choli set and a dupatta”, and males using “kurta, kafni pyjamas and a ghagra tied around the waist”.

B. Bhangra- Punjab:

Popular not only in India but, in Pakistan as well, is the folk dance of Punjab called Bhangra. Traditionally performed during the festival of Vaishakhi, this style of dancing is closely related to a martial dance known as “Bagga”.  It is not only renowned for its energetic music (produced mainly through the use of an instrument called dhol) but also for its colourful costumes that include the traditional salwar kameez suit for females, and kurta and Pag i.e. turban for men.  Furthermore, due to migration of Punjabis to countries like US, UK etc, a modern form of bhangra which comprised of elements from several western dancing styles took shape during the 1990’s.

C. Dandiya Raas- Gujarat:

Celebrated with great fanfare during the auspicious Navratri festival along with the Garba, is a folk dance originating from Gujarat known as Dandiya Raas. This dance form essentially involves the use of decorative sticks and rhythmic body and feet movements. Furthermore, this dance style also comprises of colourful costumes similar to the Garba (for both male and female), and energetic music usually produced by percussion instruments such as dholak, table etc.

D. Lavani- Maharashtra:

Derived from the word “Lavanya” which means “beauty” is a folk dance belonging to Maharashtra known as Lavani. In this dance, the performers (mostly females) wear a nine yard long saree while dancing. In addition, this form of dancing also involves use of songs that are erotic in nature, and which make strong comments on the socio-political issues prevailing in the society such as religion, romance etc. Furthermore, it is also accompanied by energetic music that is produced mainly using a percussion instrument called “Dholki”.

E. Ghoomar- Rajasthan:

Performed mainly by women using a veil, is a folk dance belonging to Rajasthan known as Ghoomar. This dance involves twirling body movements with the performers moving in and out from a wide circle. In addition, the costume used in this dance style by the performers is extremely colourful and includes ghagharas, chunaris, cholis, and traditional Rajasthani jewellery to boot.  Furthermore, this folk dance is performed mainly during festivals.

F. Raas Leela- Uttar Pradesh:

Dedicated to the legend of Lord Krishna and his “Gopis” from Vrindavana in Uttar Pradesh, is a folk dance known as Raas Leela.  This style of folk dancing has essentially been created from the legend which states, that the “gopis” once on hearing Lord Krishna playing his flute danced along to this soothing tune for the entire night. Furthermore, such is the popularity of this folk dance that its style has been incorporated in classical Indian dance forms such as Manipuri, Bharatanatyam, and Kathak.  In addition, the word “Raas Leela” when literally translated means “the dance of love”.

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