The Gujarat folk dances are a celebration of colorful costumes and energetic music. The folk dances are a reflection of the vibrant culture of Gujarat. The people of the state love to celebrate every occasion with lots of pomp, grandeur, and show. The same element and spirit characterize the folk dances of Gujarat.
Most Popular Folk Dances of Gujarat
1. Dandiya Raas
Dandiya Raas is one of the most captivating dances of Gujarat. During the festival of Navratri, this dance is performed in Gujarat and throughout the country. This dance form is a unique attraction of the fest. The Navaratri festival is celebrated in honor of the nine incarnations of the Mother Goddess. Devotees fast for nine days, days marked with puja and nights with vibrant dance performances. The people and state government make arrangements for the Dandiya dance nights.
Dandiya Raas dance is performed in a group consisting of both men and women dancers. The dancers wear colorful attires specially designed for the rhythmic dance. Beautifully decorated wooden sticks or dandiyas are used as props in this dance. Crafted out of bamboo and painted in vibrant colors, the sticks look attractive. While dancing, the performers hold the sticks in both hands and strike them rhythmically together on the powerful beats of the typical musical instruments. The performers dance in a group, forming circles. The sticks, when struck together, produce melodious sounds. It is a fast-paced, energy-packed dance form. The Kathiawari Raas dancers of Gujarat are best specially for this dance form.
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2. Garba Raas
It is an ancient Gujarati dance form that is highly popular among the people residing in this state. Usha, the granddaughter-in-law of Lord Krishna, popularized this dance form. Originally, it was known by the name of Lasya Nritya. This dance is performed only by the female dancers. They dress up in colorful costumes and perform this dance to pay tribute to Ma Jagdambe, the Mother Goddess.
This dance is also performed at other religious fests in the state, such as Vasant Panchami, Holi, and Sharad Purnima. The dancers carry pots on their heads while performing. They move in circular patterns, dancing to the beats of rhythmic devotional songs sung in honor of the Mother Goddess. The term ‘Garba’ has emerged from the word ‘Garbhadip’. Garbhadip stands for a lamp placed inside an earthen pot. Sometimes, this pot is filled with water, and sometimes, an earthen lamp is lit inside it. The women wear colorful saris in the typical Gujarati style while performing the Garba dance.
3. Ras Dance
This famed dance originated from Ras Leela and was performed by Lord Krishna with His mates in Vrindavan and Gokul. Traditionally performed by male dancers in groups, this dance form is executed on the melodious and enticing beats of musical instruments such as Flute, Zanz, Cymbals, And Dhol. Draped in colorful traditional clothing, the performers dance with great enthusiasm.
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4. Bhavai Dance
The word Bhavai has been derived from the word Bhava, which means feelings and emotions. Bhavai is basically a classical folk-dance drama performed in the various villages of Gujarat. This dance form is believed to be a dance of deep emotions and is a famous folk dance of Gujarat. In this folk dance, the male and female performers balance up to 7 to 9 brass pitchers on their heads as they dance gracefully, twirling and then swaying dexterously with the soles of their feet perched on the top of a glass or the edge of a sword. The Bhavai dance drama is a non-stop performance lasting throughout the night and staged in open grounds. This dance drama is such that it can keep the audience engaged for several hours.
5. Hudo Dance
Another popular folk dance of Gujarat is the Hudo. It is a dance form practiced mainly by the Bharwad Tribe, which is essentially the shepherd community residing in Gujarat. The idea of the dance has its roots in the sheep fights. The movements of two sheep ramming their crazy heads are duplicated in this particular Gujarati folk dance form. The dancers clap their hands forcefully and rhythmically while the traditional musical instruments of Manjira, Joda, Flute, Dholak, and harmonium are used as accompaniments. Popular in Gujarat’s Panchal region, the captivating aura of the dance is hidden within the vibrant costumes worn by the performers. One unique fact about the costume is the presence of an umbrella as a prop. The umbrella is decked with a beautiful embroidered pattern, and the fine lace and mirror work is simply amazing.
6. Padhar Dance
Performed by the people of the Padhar community, the Padhar dance is another prominent folk dance in the state of Gujarat. The people belonging to the Padhar community are primarily fishermen who live along the banks of Nal Sarovar of Gujarat’s Bhal region. They are all Hindus and are devotees of Goddess Durga. While performing the dance, the performers replicate the various events that happen in the life of mariners. The ebbs and tides in the sea and the wandering nature of the mariner’s job are shown through this dance form. The performer holds small sticks in their hands while dancing and enact the rowing of boats while singing songs associated with water.
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7. Tippani Dance
Performed exclusively by female dancers, Tippani is a popular folk dance in Gujarat that emerged from Gujarat’s Chorwad district. It is popular among the Koli and Kharva tribes of the coastal belt of Gujarat and is performed while beating the floor in two opposite rows, accompanied by folk songs. With simple musical instruments such as a Thali and a Turi, dancers produce the music. The dance originated among laborers but is now performed at the various festivals and weddings. The folk costumes are also traditional and typically consist of a short coat called Kedia, tight trousers or churidars, colorfully embroidered caps, turbans, and waistbands.
8. Siddi Dhamal
Siddi Dhamal is one such dance form that reflects the Siddis’ passion for hunting. In the olden days, this dance, also known as Mashira Nritya, was performed by the people of the Siddi tribe. They usually performed this dance to celebrate their success in a hunting expedition. This dance form used to be a primary source of entertainment for rulers during the reign of kings.
Gujarat is regarded as the famed land of festivals. Each year, a large number of festivals are celebrated in the state with immense pomp and grandeur. These celebrations are accompanied by musical performances and traditional folk-dance forms based on the state’s rich culture and heritage. Thus, the various folk dances of Gujarat are not only practiced in this western state but are also quite popular all across the country. In this article, we focus on the multiple captivating folk dances of Gujarat.