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Folk & Tribal Dances of Indian States & Union Territories

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Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh is famous for several folk and tribal dances like Andhranatyam, Bathkamma dance, Dappu Dance, Gurayyalu, Ghanta Mardala, Kolattam, Lambadi, Mayura dance, Perini, Puli Vesham and Siddi dance.


This dance is a 2000-year old temple dance performed by devadasis as a form of worship. Agama Nartanam, Carnatakam and Darbari Aatam are different forms of Andhranatyam. During the period of Hinayana Buddhism, this art form was practised as Nruthyam - a form of worship to God. Dr Nataraja Ramakrishna and Nagalakshmi are dedicated to this art form.


It is a folk dance practised in the Telangana region by newly married women.

Dappu Dance:

This dance owes its name to the use of dappu, a percussion instrument. The local dappu player plays an important role during village festivals or when calling villagers to the Panchayat.


Kolatam, Kolannalu or Kol Kolannalu is a form of the "stick dance" performed by men and women, which can be traced back to the 7th century AD. In the Jada Kolatam, a group of 16 to 18 dancers weave a plait, while playing on the sticks and making intricate movements.

Mayura Dance:

It is practised by the Kondh tribe during marriages and in the April festivals. 'Pirodi' is the flute used during this dance.


The Perini Thandavam is a war dance performed by males and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It gained popularity under the rule of the Kakatiyas. Dr Nataraja Ramakrishna is responsible for the renaissance of Perini.

Puli Vesham:

Puli Vesham or the "Tiger Dance" is one of the most popular folk dance forms in Andhra Pradesh and is usually performed in open-air during Dusshera or Muharram in villages, and during other festivals in big towns.

Siddi Dance:

It is practised by Siddis (Abyssinians/Habshis) of Hyderabad, who are people of Arabic origin.


It is a festival and processional dance form performed dominantly by the men folk in the Yadava community mainly in the north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam to invoke the blessings of goddess Gangamma.

Veer Natyam:

Veer Natyam is performed to worship Veerbhadra, who was believed to have been created by Lord Shiva from his Jatajhuta or hair. It is commonly performed in Draksharama, which is supposed to be the birthplace of Veerbhadra. The dance is accompanied by musical instruments like Tambura, Soolen, Dholu, Thasha and Veeranam.

Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Nikobarese Dance :


This dance is performed by the Nikobarese tribals from the Car Nicobar Islands. It is performed during the Ossuary Feast or the Pig Festival, which is dedicated to the departed head of the family.



Arunachal Pradesh

Buiya Sodan: It is a tribal dance.

Hornbill Dance:
It is another tribal dance.

Lion and Peacock Dance:
This tribal dance spreads the message of harmony and peace.



The Bihu is the most widespread folk dance of Assam. The dance is part of the harvest festival of Bihu that comes in mid-April, and continues for about a month. The participants are young men and girls, who dance together; but there is no mixing of the sexes. The dancers use drums and pipes in the dance. Chaudang Hussari: It is a group dance performed by boys and girls of the Ahom tribe.

Keli Gopal:


It is a folk dance depicting Lord Krishna.

Khamba Lim:


It is a performed during harvests by a male and female dancer.

Lakhon Puza:

It is a dance of the Lalung tribe.

Mishing Bihu:

This dance is associated with the Ali-Ali Lignos festival of the Mishmi tribes of Assam. It depicts the various stages of cultivation from sowing till reaping.

Nat Puja: It is performed with a sword in the hand to please Lord Shiva.

Nruira Lim: It is a cock-fight dance.

Rakhal Lila: It is performed during holi.

Table Chongbi: It is also performed during holi.


Dances from Bihar can be divided into tribal (Munda, Santhal, Oraon, Kharia, Ho) and non-tribal (Bhojpuri, Majhi, Maithili). The themes of these dances generally center around agricultural or hunting occupations or religious subjects. The most important dances are Chhau, Karma, Jatra and Paika.


The Chhau dance is indigenous to the eastern part of India, especially Bihar. It originated as a martial art and contains vigorous movements and leaps. During the 18th and 19th centuries, many of the princely rulers of the Orissa region took a keen interest in the development of this art. The Chhau dance is so called because the chhau or mask is an essential feature of this art. The word 'chhau' is generally traced to the Sanskrit root, chhaya, meaning shade. The techniques of Chhau dance incorporated certain basic steps, which seem to have stemmed from the pharikhanda system of exercise, which has been an important part of the training of the Sipahis, or Pharikhanda. The depiction of birds and animals is a distinctive feature of Chhau. This has given rise to several sub-forms such as Mayura Nritya or Peacock dance, Sagara Nritya or Ocean dance and Sarpa Nritya or serpent dance. There are also heroic dances using swords, bows or shields, with which the dancers demonstrate their dexterity. In such forms, the themes include the depiction of mythological heroes, such as Parashurama, Mahadev, Indrajit and others from the Mahabharata and Ramayana Epics. Over the course of time, female characters and more diverse themes got added. The drums, Nagra and Dhol and Shehnais provide the main musical accompaniment to the Chhau dance. The tunes are based mainly on the ragas of the Hindustani music. Chhau is generally performed with the onset of the month of Chaitra Parva, which comes about the middle of April every year.

There are three main recognized styles of Chhau:

Seraikella, Purulia and Mayurbhanj. Mayurbhanj Chhau dancers do not wear masks. In recent times, Mayurbhanj Chhau has become popular as a medium of choreography, with its wide range of postures and movements that adapt well to modern as well as traditional treatment.


It is performed by the Oraon tribe. Jata Jatin: It is performed in moonlight by the Mithila women.


It is performed by the boys and girls of the Kol tribe during rainy seasons.

Paika Dance:

The Paika Dance is performed by the Munda and Oraon communities of Bihar. It is a stylized presentation of war dance. However, it is danced as a festive dance during weddings and the Dussehra days. The gestures suggest removal of obstacles in the way and of giving protection to honored guests. The martial nature of the dance has been retained through the use of swords, �steeds� and shields while performing acrobatic feats. The accompanied musical instruments include Dhol, Nagara, Shehnai, Ranbheri and Mandal.

Sarbul (Sarhul):

It is a summer dance of the Oraon tribe.

Dadra & Nagar Haveli

The native tribals of Dadra & Nagar Haveli have their own traditions and dances. Tarpa is a melodious dance performed on moonlit nights. Mask dance or Bhavada is another colourful folk dance.


The popular dances of Goa include Courridinho, Dekhni, Fugdi & Dhalo, Ghode Modni, Mando, Jagor and Kunbi. Ghode Modni: It is a dummy horse presentation, where the dancers, attired gorgeously and armed with swords, recapitulate, through step and movement, the valour and deeds of the Goan warriors of old times.


It is another folk dance of Goa.

Samai Dance:

Samai Dance is performed with traditional metallic lamps or deepaks from Goa. In southern and middle Goa, Samai dance is performed during the Shigmo Festival. The men and women balance the Samai on their heads and perform various movements. During religious gatherings the dance is accompanied by slow singing.


Garba, Garbi, Garbo, Ras and Dandiya Raas are important folk dances of Gujarat. The chief feature of folk dances from Gujarat is the use of sticks.

Dandiya Raas:

It is a simple rhythmic dance performed by young people moving around in a circle in measured steps to the beat of dandiya sticks they carry. Dharmar & Hamchi Dances: These are energetic and fast tempoed dances are performed by the Siddis or Abysinnians who came from Africa centuries ago.


Garba, the leading dance of women in Gujarat, is associated with the fertility cult. For the nine nights of Navaratri, women come out into the open and with perforated earthen pots holding lighted lambs poised on the head and sing, clap and dance a simple, circular dance, in honour of the goddess Amba.


This is similar to Garba but is performed by men.

Gheria Dance:

It is performed by members of the shepherd community, while holding a stick in one hand and a peacock feather in the other.

Gof Gunthan:

It is a variation of the Dandiya Raas in which the dancers carry sticks only in one hand and a length of coloured string in the other.


It is a folk dance performed by women.

Matka Nritya:

It is a variation of the Dandiya Raas in which the performers strike their fingers against empty pots to generate a distinctive beat.

Mer Dance:

It is another variation of the Dandiya Raas in which the dance begins with a slow tempo but gains momentum gradually.

Padhar Dance:

A rural community living around Nal Lake performs this dance in which the dancers simulate the rhythmic movements of undulating sea.


It is a post-harvest dance performed by Adivasis.


It this dance, women from some parts of Saurashtra beat the floor with wooden mallets, and sing to the pace, while others dance in swirling skirts.

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