Popular Folk Dances of India, State wise Folk Dance list

Folk dances of India can be also called as Tribal dances. These dances are generally performed on the ocassion of harvest season, festivals, to pray for rains and for recreation. Each regions of country has special folk or tribal dance representing the individual identity and culture and practices of that region. For example Rajasthan has its Ghumar and Khayal, Gujarat has Garba, Punjab has Bhangra, Giddha.

Most Popular Folk Dances of India

Folk Dances of India : Yakshgana

Folk dances of India

A Scene from Yakshagana Folk Dance

This is one the most popular folk dances of India and is most famous in Karnataka and other Kannada speaking regions of south Indian states. The literal meaning of Yakshgana is song of Yaksh (third exotic creatures except Gods and Humans as per mythology). It is story based dance performed along with dialogue and acting. It is usually performed with colourful costumes. The story is mostly bases on ancient religious epics. Kirimane Shivrama Hegde, Shambhu Hegde are the popular exponents of this folk dance and are also associated with Idagunji Mahaganapathi Yakshagana Mandali.

Folk Dances of India : Bhangra

Bhangra is a classical folk dance of Punjab and other regions of Punjabi community. It is performed by men wearing traditional colorful Kurta, Tehmat and turban. Dhols and Chimtas are generally used as musicals instruments. Traditionally Bhangra dance is performed during harvest season in vaisakhi festival as a way of celebrating. In present times most of the festivals are associated with this dance which is mixed with traditional and modern dance steps.

Folk Dances of India : Chhau

Folk Dances of India

Various artists performing Chhau Dance

Chhau is one of the most important folk dances of India which is popular in tribal areas of eastern states namely Jharkhand, Odisha, adjacent regions of northeast Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. Its other name is Paika Nritya the literal meaning of which is dance of war. As the name suggests the steps depicts various moves during a combat representing false attacks and defence accompanied with jumping and swift body movements. The plot is generally based on the instances of religious epics like Mahabharat and/or characters of God like Shiva etc. Indigenous weapons like swords, pikes and shield are used by the artists performing dance. The dance is performed along with regional musical instruments like Dhol, Dhumsa, Mohuri (Musical pipes) etc. It is performed in night by male artists in open spaces generally. Purulia, Mayurbhanj and Sareikela are considered as the hub of Chhau dance.

Folk Dances of India : Pandawani

Pandwani is a famous folk dance of Madhya Pradesh and adjacent regions of Chhattisgarh. This includes blend of song and dialogues with intermittent small dance steps. As the name suggests the theme is based on the incidences of Pandavas from famous epic of Mahabharat. Main Character of the dance carries ektara and/or kartal (manjira) as the  musical instruments. The main character is complemented with a group which plays tabla, dholak, manjira and other regional musical instruments in between the dialogues. Teejan Bai is the renowned exponent of this Folk dance. Other important artists associated with this folk are Jhaduram Devangan and Ritu Verma.

Folk Dances of India : Garba

Garba is a traditional folk dance of Gujarat which is performed during the festive seasons of Navratri. Usually an image or idol of Godess Durga is placed in the center and the women encircle it while performing this dance. Colorful dress which is called Chaniya Choli is worn by the women and young girls during this dance. This dance has now a days has become an iconic image of Gujarat. This dance is organised on large scales by socities, clubs and other social organisations during festive seasons.

Folk Dances of India : Lavani

Folk dances of India

Madhuri Dixit Performing Lavani

Lavani is one of the most popular folk dances of Maharashtra. It is a theatrical type of dance which is blended with song. Lavani has its root in original Marathi word Lavanya which stands for beauty. It is also popular in Marathi dominating areas of South Madhya Pradesh and Northern parts of Karnataka. This is not based on epics like Yakshagana but solely entertainment type. As the name (Lavanya) suggests the theme is based on beauty aspects, romance and eroticism which is performed by female artists clad in colourful classical nine yard sari.

Bihu

It is the popular dance form of northeastern state Assam. There are three forms associated with this – Rongali Bihu (Bohag Bihu), Kongali Bihu and Bhogali Bihu. This dance depicts enjoyment and cheerfulness for welcoming the harvest season. This dance is also done during new year celebrations and also during planting/cropping in fields.

Rauf

Folk dances of India

Group of Kashmiri Women performing Rauf Dance

This is a folk dance form of Kashmir valley which is performed mostly by Muslim community and especially by women. This dance marks the onset of harvest (Spring) season. It is also performed for recreational purpose. The women performing the Rauf  wear colourful attire and stand in either single or double row. The dance steps are performed with the movement of feet while women keep their hands holding in chain.

Ghoomar

This is a popular folk dance form of Rajasthan. It is not only a tribal dance but its popularity has spread to other communities also. As the name suggests the dance step involves swirling (ghum) in round motion accompanied with hand movements.  This dance is performed by women. The attire includes colourful wavy ghagra and kurtis.

State wise List of Folk Dances of India

StateFolk Dances
Andhra PradeshGhanta Mardala, Natakam, Burrakatha
AssamBihu, Khel gopal, Tabal Chongli
BiharJata Jatin, Chhau, Kathaputli, Bakho, Jhijhiya, Jatra
GujaratDandiya Ras, Garba, Tippani
HaryanaJhumar, Ras Leela, Phag Dance, Daph, Dhamal, Khoria
Himachal PradeshJhora, Jhali, Dangi, Jadda
Jammu and KashmirRauf, Hikat, Dumhal
KarnatakaYakshagana, Huttari, Dollu Kunitha
KeralaKaliyattam, Kaikottikali, Thullal, Theyyam, Koodiyattam, Oppana, Thitambu Nritham, Chakyar Koothu
Madhya PradeshPandwani, Jawara, Phulpati dance
Maharashtra Lavani, Tamasha, Gafa, Mauni,
OdishaChadya, Dandanata, Chhau, Ghumura, Goti Puja, Dhap, Dalkhai, Karma Nach
PunjabGiddha, Bhangra, Bhand
RajasthanGhoomar, Kachchi Ghodi, Chakri, Khayal, Jhulan Leela, Jhuma, Ganore
Tamil NaduKolattam, Karagam, Kavadi, Theru Koothu, Kamandi, Kummi, Mayil Attam (Peacock Dance), Oyilattam, Puliyattam
Uttar PradeshRamleela, Nautanki, Jhora, Chappeli, Kajri, Raslila
West BengalChhau, Jatra, Kirtan, Kathi, Baul