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Folk & Tribal Dances of Indian States & Union Territories

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There are many folk dances from Haryana like Dhamal, Phag, Guga, Loor and Khoria.

Dhamal (Dhamyal):

It is the leading dance of Haryana, often also known as the Duph, practised during the sowing season. It is notable for the sounds of pounding feet and beating daffs. This dance is especially popular in the Ahir areas of Gurgaon.

Daph Dance:

This dance is performed during the harvests and in the Spring Season.


This dance is performed by women at weddings and is marked by happy cajoling and joyful teasing. It resembles the Ghoomar dance of Rajasthan.


This dance is generally performed by women during the Spring season when work in the fields is over.

Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh has a wide range of the ethnic groups, each having their own characteristic dances.


The Kinnauri men and women perform this dance as a prelude to the Dakyang. In this dance men and women enter in a single file and then form a circle.

Bonyangchu: It is a carefree dance of the Kinnauri men.

Birshi Naati: This is a folk dance of Rampur district.


This is a macho martial dance in which men flourish their dangras (axes) in big open movements. Ballads telling of battles and legendary heroes are sung to the beat of the hulki (an hourglass-shaped drum).

Chham Chhanak:

It is the devotional Buddhist dance of the Lahul Spiti region.

Charba: It is performed by the Gaddi women.


This is a joyful dance of the Kinnauras, which is performed on almost all the festive occasions with the participation of both men and women. The dancing is accompanied by the tribal songs.


It is usually performed in the gompas during festivals. Stories relating to the lamas are told through this dance.


Dangi is a lively women�s dance of the Chhatrari village in Chamba. Dodra Kawar: This is an agricultural dance of Lahaul and Spiti.


It is a dance for couples performed in Lahaul and Spiti.

Gee Dance:

The Gee dance of Sirmaur is performed during the festival of Lohri. Losar Shona Chuksam: The Losar Shona Chuksam is an agricultural festival dance performed by the Kinnauris.


It is a dance drama, more like a theatrical performance by professional artistes.


Kayang is a folk dance of the Kinnaur district where men and women dance in semi-circles around the musicians. It is based on a legend from the epic Mahabharata. Lama Devil dance: It is one of the most attractive dances of the Kinnauri tribals, where the dancers are masked. Two of them are dressed as lions. The dance depicts the taming of the lion that represents evil spirits.

Losar Shona Chuksam :

This is an agricultural dance of Kinnaur that takes its name from losar or the Tibetan New Year. This dance is held in the months of April/May.


It is performed by the Gaddis (shepherds) of Himachal Pradesh.


The Naati is a favourite male dance of Kullu.


This dance is performed in September to celebrate the autumn. The dancers themselves sing while musicians play the instruments. The most picturesque amongst these are the dances of the Gaddis.


The Rasa is another dance from Sirmaur, where the dancers form chains (pindi-bandhas) or concentric circles and sing songs depicting love stories. This dance is different from the Rasa dances of Braj and Manipur.


The Shaboo is danced on festive occasions in Lahaul and Spiti.


It is a male dance of Lahaul-Spiti, where the dancers sing a song is in praise of Lord Buddha.


This is a women�s dance performed during the Suhi Fair held in the Spring Season. The accompanying song tells of the beauty of flowers and the season, especially the flowering of the Marua flower.


The Singhi or snow lion is a Buddhist dance performed to ensure peace and prosperity.


It is a dance of archery. Kharait, Ujagjama and Chadhgebrikar are martial dances of men in Kullu. The Ludi Banthde, Dhili Pheti and Bashari are other joyous events of people in Kullu.

Jammu & Kashmir

Dumhal (Ras Dhamali): This dance is performed by the men-folk of the Wattal tribe of Kashmir on specific occasions. The performers wear long colourful robes and tall conical caps, which are studded with beads and shells.


Hikat, danced by women, is a modification of a game played by children. Forming pairs, the participants extend their arms to the front gripping each other's wrists and with the body inclined back, go round and round at the same spot.


This dance, which is typical of Jammu, exhibits swaying, sinuous movements. Ras Dhamali Dance: This is performed by the Wattal Tribes from Jammu & Kashmir.


It is a seasonal dance in which dancers link their arms and glide forward and backward.


Balakat dance, Bhoota (or Kola), Chowdikeyavaru (Dharwad), Devil dance, Dholu Kunita (Drum-Dancers), Doddata (Hero of Bayalata, Bijapur), Halage Mela (Wooden Plank Musician), Haremela (Uttara Kannada), Helavaru (Folk Artist), Huttari Dance (Coorg District), Jaga-Halage (Giant Rolling Drum Dance); Jagateya Kunubi (South Kanara), Karade-Vadya (Dharwad), Karaga, Keelu Kudure (Hinged Horse Dance), Kittur Chennamma (Fancy Dress), Kunubi of Dakshina Kannada, Mudukana Maduve, NandiKolu (Mysore), Onake Obavva (Fancy Dress), Patada Kunitha, Preta Nritya (South Kannara District), Somana Kunita (Sun Dance) and Suggi Kunitha.

Balakat Dance:

The Dodavas tribes perform this dance during the harvest time. Bhoota (or Kola): This is a ritual dance, similar to Teyyam of Malabar Coast, typical of the South Kanara district of Karnataka.


These are ritual dances revolving around worship of Lord Subramanya.


Karnataka region has immense treasure house of ritualistic dances, all denoted by the generic term Kunitha. In Puja Kunitha, there is a wooden structure with a deity on the head. Devare Thatte Kunitha, Yell-ammana Kunitha, Suggikunitha and others take their name from the deity or the symbol or instrument which is balanced on the head, or held in the hand of the dancer. The Dollu Kunitha is a popular drum dance of Karnataka.



This form is believed to have been introduced to Kerala by the early Aryan immigrants and is performed only by the members of the Chakiar caste. A highly orthodox type of entertainment, it can be staged inside temples only and witnessed by the Hindus of the higher castes. The theatre is known as Koothambalam. The only accompaniments are the cymbals and the copper drum known as the miazhavu.


It is a harvest dance in which the dancers, both men and women move in a swift rhythm, linked in a back lock or holding arms. The costumes are in striking red and white.


It is a ritual dance offering in Subramanya temples. The group of devotees wearing bright yellow or saffron costumes with ash smeared all over the body, dance in a frenzy carrying kavadis (colourful bow shaped wooden structures) on their shoulders.


It is a group dance form of the farming community in Kerala.


It is a temple folk art and an awe-inspiring mask dance. Kumbhamkali (Kumbhamthullal): Kumbhamkali or Kumbhamthullal (pot dance) is a folk ritual dance of devotees carrying pots on the head.


It is performed by the women.


It is a song and dance ritual exclusive to the Devi temples of South Kerala.


It is a Muslim bridal group dance.


It is a solo dance form of Kathakali, referred as 'poor man's Kathakali'.

Padayani or Padeni:

It is one of the most colourful and spectacular folk dances associated with the festivals of certain temples in Alleppey, Quilon and Kottayam districts of southern Kerala. It involves a series of divine and semi-divine impersonations wearing huge masks or kolams of different shapes, colours and designs. The most important of the kolams usually presented in a Padayani performance are Bhairavi (Kali), Kalan (god of death), Yakshi (fairy) and Pakshi (bird).


It is performed by the male and female dancers.


Theyyam or Kaliyattom is a ritual dance typical of the northern Malabar. It is not merely a dance but a cult, which is inseparable from the Hindu practices of the region. Elaborate description of such rituals are found in the Tamil literature of the Sangam period (500 BC-500 AD). As a performing art, Teyyam offers an unusual experience. The painting of the face, the gorgeous attire and the imposing headdresses all speak of a developed artistic sensibility. Every Teyyam presentation has two parts, the Tottam or Vellattam, which involves preliminary ceremonies, and the spirited calling upon the deity for inspiration, and the dance. The accompanied instruments include drums, pipes and cymbals.

Thidampu Nritham:

It is the 700 years old ritualistic art form of North Kerala. In this, the dancer moves to the rhythmic beats of the chenda carrying the thidampu (the idol of the deity) on his head.


is a dance form which is a pointer to the old customs followed in Nair tharawads (joint families) where the women of the house dance elegantly around the ceremonial lamp or floral decoration on festive occasions to the accompaniment of the Thiruvathira pattu (song).


It is characterized by simplicity of presentation, wit and humour. Kunjan Nambiar, one of the leading poets of Malayalam, originated this dance form. The dancer himself sings the lead to the accompaniment of the maddalam and elathalam. It is of three types -- Ottanthullal, Seethankam thullal and Parayanthullal.


This is also a ritual dance similar to Teyyam but existing only in the northern part of Kerala.


It is performed behind the stage.


It is a folk dance in which artistes tap the short sticks held in both hands.


Lava Dance:

It is typical of the Minicoy Island.

Zikar Dance:

It is performed by men in Lakshadweep.

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||Introduction||  ||Classical dances|| Folk/Tribal Dances ||Modern Dances || Great Dancers & Choreographers||