Assam is one of the North Eastern states and is known for its diverse population and rich culture. The Assam culture is a rare fusion of Indo-Aryan, Indo-Mongolian, and Indo-Burmese influences. It is believed that folk dances are a manifestation of the traditions and culture of any place. One of the brightest examples of this statement may be witnessed in the various Assam folk dance forms. In this article, we’ll discuss about the folk dances of Assam. Read on:
List of the 12 Most Famous Folk Dances of Assam
1. Bihu Dance
Bihu dance is one of the most prominent folk dances of Assam. During the Bihu festival, we get to see this beautiful dance form. This festival is celebrated with lots of pomp and grandeur all across the state of Assam. Women performers dress up in the ethnic Mekhela Chador when performing this dance. Several types of musical instruments are used during this dance. The instruments used include Dhol, Pepa, Toka, Tala, and the Gogona. The lyrics of the songs sung during this dance are passed down from one generation to another.
2. Jhumur Dance
This is a dance of the tea-growing community in the state of Assam. This dance is locally termed as ‘Cha Baganor Jhumur Nach’ (dance of the tea gardens). Young boys and girls participate in this dance, which involves amazing footwork. The performers hold each other’s waist and dance in a rhythmic manner. Watching the performers sway to the Jhumur dance is indeed an experience in itself. The male participants of this dance wear traditional costumes. Various traditional instruments are played during the dance. During this dance a Drum or Dholak hung around one shoulders, a pair of taal and a flute are used. This dance is named Jhumur because of the sound of bells tied around the ankles of the dancers. The history of this dance informs us that this dance form had developed as a mode of recreation in the midst of tedious agricultural activities.
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This is a dance of the Bodo tribal community. The dance technique is handed over to the latter generations by the former generations. The women of this tribal community carry the colourful Dokhona and Aronai during the performance. This is the chief dance form of this particular Tribal community. The Bodos perform other tribal dances too, such as Bardwi Sikhla, Mwsaglangnai, Sikri-Sikla Dance, and Dahal Tungri Sibnai Dance.
4. Dhulia and Bhawariya
This dance form is a part of the Bhawuas, a kind of theatrical miracle drama similar to the ones practiced in Europe. This dance form has unmistakable acrobatic elements in it. Energetic and powerful music is played during this dance. The use of cymbals and drums is quite common during this dance form. The performers often wear masks.
5. Ali Ai Ligang Dance
The Mishing community of Assam perform this dance. This dance is performed to celebrate agricultural activities. During the Ahu paddy festival, this dance is performed. The performers pay a tribute to Mother Earth through this dance. Months of February and March this dance is performed. Through this dance form the hardships of the life of a farmer are aptly portrayed. Musical instruments played during this dance include gong, drums, flutes, etc.
6. Bhortal Nritya of Barpeta
Narhari Burha Bhakat, a famed Satriya artist had crafted this dance form. This dance form reflects the Sankari culture. In this dance form the dancers carry cymbals as props. They dance with these props and form colourful patterns during the dance. You may get to see these dances around Barpeta and on the various Guwahati stages during the famous Bihu festival.
7. Deodhani Dance
This is one of the full dances of Assam. This dance is performed to pay tribute to Goddess Mansa, the snake goddess. Instruments like drum and flute are used during the performance of this dance. A prominent dancer dances in an inspired state. These dancers are mostly women dancers. They tend to be in a kind of trance while performing this dance. This dance could be a solo dance or a group dance. Somewhere in the midst of the dance swords and Shields are used, and kind of battle mimicry is executed. During this battle sequence several Hindu deities are paid tribute to. This dance is an integral part of the culture of the Bodo-Kachari tribe of Assam.
8. Ankiya Dance
Sankardev initiated this dance form. It is basically a dance drama. Bhaona is the other name for this dance. This dance form is a unique admixture of religious and performative aspects. This dance form came up in the year 1449. Masks are worn by the dancers in this dance act. The masks are of the various gods and goddesses, and even of devils and animals. This dance drama is an elaborate episode of vigorous drumming, songs, and dancing gestures.
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The Dimasa tribal community of Assam are experts in this dance form. This dance is performed by both the men and women of the Dimasa community. You will get to see this dance during the harvest festival of Busu Dima. Graceful gestures of the hands are the chief feature of this folk dance of Assam.
10. Husori Dance
During the festivities of Magh Bihu, the Husori dance is performed. The group of dancers move from one household to another to spread the happiness associated with this festival. They sing and dance and play musical instruments on their way.
11. Bawang Dance
This dance is performed by the Karbi tribal community of Assam during multiple festivals. It involves the performance of both male and female performers dancing in a circular pattern, depicting celebration and unity.
12. Cheraw Dance
This is a dance of the Karbi Anglong tribe. Groups of men and women perform this dance during festivities. They form circular patterns during the dance. The performers dance rhythmically lifting and stamping their feet to the beats of drums and gongs.
Folk dances of Assam reflect the culture of a place. Assam was ruled by the Ahom dynasty for several years, and the folk dances of Assam manifest the various cultural attributes that have come from the Ahom dynasty. The folk dances of Assam reflect the way of life of people residing in the state and as the state is inhabited by several ethnic tribes, we can see many tribal elements in the folk dances of Assam. In this article, we have explored the various important folk dances of Assam.