India is known for its vast cultural and traditional reach with an elaborate variety of art forms. These forms include types of Indian Dances, Music, and Painting Styles. A combination of all these styles defines the huge cultural importance of the country.
Indian Dances are one of the most significant parts of India’s culture. They are performed by a huge number of people all around the country and are actively taken part in around the world as well. Some of these Indian Folk Dance forms belong to a certain community or a specific state where they are performed by the natives to celebrate certain occasions.
The arrival of a new season, the birth of a child, weddings, worshipping their god and goddesses, etc. are such occasions where these folk dances are performed to express happiness and gratitude. These dance forms portray the diversity and highlight the differences between the various traditions of every state in India.
Although the occasions celebrated remain the same in all the households, each state celebrates them in ways that are distinct from each other. Every dance form has varied movements but is performed to express the feeling of happiness in their own auspicious ways.
The list of different states with their various folk dance forms that makes every Indian feel proud of the country’s culture and tradition is given below.
1. Andhra Pradesh
1.1 Vilasini Natyam
It is an Indian Classical Dance form originating in Andhra Pradesh. Its repertoire comprises temple dances, court dances, and dance operas of female singer-dancers of Telugu origin.
1.2 Bhama Kalapam Kuchipudi Dance
It is another form of Classical Dance in Andhra Pradesh. The entire dance revolves around Satyabhama, the beautiful yet jealous wife of Lord Sri Krishna.
1.3 Veeranatyam or Dance of the brave
It is an ancient form of dance from the state of Andhra Pradesh, which is associated with religious significance. It started as a ritual that was performed in Shiva (Shaivite) temples in honour of Lord Shiva.
A percussion instrument is the most popular musical instrument of Andhra Village. Used originally while announcing an important event in the village such as a meeting, a sale, etc. It has developed into an art form for over a hundred years. This instrument is used both on auspicious such as marriage processions, village festivals, and inauspicious occasions such as funeral processions.
1.5 Tappet Gullu
It is one form of devotional dance from Andhra Pradesh which is very famous in the areas of Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, and Vizianagaram, etc. This was a dance that in ancient times was performed by the shepherds and cowherds so that they could amuse thome rain Goddess Gangamma.
It is a special kind of Folk Dance that involves participation by tribal women who bedeck themselves in colourful costumes and jewellery. Mostly the Senegalese and Banjaras take part in Lambadi Dance. They are the semi-nomadic tribes of Andhra Pradesh. During the dance, the women dancers wear saree in Rajasthani style.
It is a tribal dance form that is performed primarily by Porja caste women in Andhra Pradesh. A group of 15-20 women forms a circle and dance praising the deity for the welfare of their domestic life. They also dance at weddings since the women pray for a peaceful and happy married life.
It is a popular folk dance belonging to the state of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. it is mainly a dance of the females and does not necessarily involve the males. They may act as drummers or players of background music. This dance originated in regions like Mahabalipuram, Taripatri, Macherla, Hampi, and Ramappa. In this dance, the dancers use sticks to keep the rhythm of the dance.
2. Arunachal Pradesh
It is a popular dance form that originated in the beautiful north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. This folk dance is an attraction at all tribal festivals in the state. The unique formations combined with the beat of different instruments make buiya folk dance an exciting show to watch. This dance is performed on any festival occasion like the Duiya, Tazampu, and Tanuya festivals.
It is a part of Arunachal Pradesh’s most awaited festival, called Chalo Loku. This festival is a grand celebration in the state and takes place every year in October and November.
It is performed by the Wacho Tribes during appropriate occasions like festivals, ceremonies, etc. The Ozele festival of Wanchos is celebrated in February-March after the sowing of millet. It lasts for four days and is observed in Longkhau Village. The dance is performed from about 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. inside the chief’s house.
2.4 Pasi Kongki
It is a beautiful representation of the Pasi’s activities for the welfare of the tribe. The dance is performed to the tune of a song sung by the locals. The song is called Aabang. The dance depicts how the Pasi would go to the plains to fetch iron and other essentials from the market.
It is a women's dance performed for seeking a good harvest and welfare of the village community. It is traditionally the folk dance of the Adis community who are known for their rich cultural way of living.
It is done for recreation primarily after the completion of important rituals of the Mopi festival. The dance is a tribute to the Goddess Mopin Ape. It is celebrated in the month of April with much gaiety for wealth, good health, universal happiness and to drive away evil spirits who bring bad luck. She is one of the most reserved goddesses of the Galo Tribe. This makes the Popir dance a crucial part of the celebrations.
It is a set of three important Assamese festivals in the Indian state of Assam. Rongali or Bohag Bihu observed in April, Kongali or Kati Bihu observed in October, and Bhogali or Magh Bihu observed in January. The Rongali Bihu is the most important of the three, celebrating the spring festival. The Bhogali Bihu is a harvest festival, with community feasts. The Kongali Bihu is the sombre, thrifty one reflecting the season of short supplies and is an animistic festival.
3.3 Nat Puja
It is actually the dance of spirituality, performed by the gopis and devine Lord Sri Krishna for the sense gratification. It is not merely a normal dance performed between boys and girls in this materialistic world but this is the dance of devotion and love performed for the satisfaction of Supreme Lord Krishna on the platform of spirituality.
It is a folk dance of the indigenous Bodo tribe in Assam and Northeast India. It is a traditional dance which is traditionally inherent to one generation to another generation. The Bodo women perform the Bagurumba dance with their colourful dokhna, jangra and aronai.
3.7 Naga Dance
It is a kind of martial art that depicts their valour, bravery, and strength. Both men and women can participate in this performance. This form of traditional folk dance starts with a prelude and way out steps. In Naga folk dance, there are more than thirty steps altogether.
It is a popular folk dance in the Bihar state of India. It is most famous in North Bihar, namely in Mithila and Koshi region. Jat Jatin is the dance of women and is supposed to be performed on moonlit nights during the monsoons.
It is a form of dance-drama which holds a unique place among the folk dances of Bihar. It deals with social issues and conflict between the traditional and modern, the rich and the poor and delicate matters like emotional battles.
It is a famous and precious folk dance performed on the ceremony of birth of a child in Bihar and other northern states including Uttar Pradesh as well.
5.1 Gaur Maria
It is performed in the plateau of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. It is performed on the occasion of marriage and is believed that it is performed with more joy than other dances. Gaur dance is a popular folk dance of Madhya Pradesh dances. Gaur dance is popular in the Sing Marias or Tallaguda Marias of South Bastar.
This Indian folk dance is basically a prominent ritual of the Satnami community of Chattisgarh. The dance is very expressive in its description and is performed to the accompaniment of melodious songs.
5.3 Raut Nacha
It is a dance performed by Yadavas, a caste which considers themselves to be descendants of Krishna. They perform the dance at the time of ‘dev udhni ekadashi’. It is believed that it is the time of awakening of Gods after brief rest according to Hindu calendar.
It is an Indian folk dance in ballad form performed predominantly in Chhattisgarh. It is also popular in the neighbouring tribal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. It depicts the story of the Pandavas, the leading characters in the epic Mahabharata.
It is a dance style in which the lead artist narrates in a simple manner by sitting on the floor throughout the performance.
The Kapik style is livelier, where the narrator actually enacts the scenes and characters.
It is a form of dance which originates from the state of Gujarat in India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term Garbha (‘womb’) and Deep (‘a small earthenware lamp’). Many traditional garbas are performed around centrally lit lamps or a picture or statue of the Goddess Shakti.
6.2 Dandiya Raas
It is the socio-religious folk dance which is popularly performed in the festival of Navratri. The dance is performed in the Marwar region of Rajasthan too.
6.3 Tippani Juiriun
In this dance, women laborers are engaged in the construction and creative work on the ground with legendary sticks named as ‘Tippani’. An exclusive feature of the dance is the dynamic quickness and musical pulse of footsteps with Tippani in hands.
It is also known as Vesha or Swang, is a popular folk theatre form of western India, especially in Gujarat.
It is a dance in Goa that involves a lot of energy. It is usually performed on the occasions of Dussehra and Holi by young boys and girls.
It is the dance form of Koli Fisher folk of Maharashtra. The community has its own distinct identity and lively dances. The dance incorporates elements that this community is most familiar with - sea and fishing.
It is a semi-classical goan dance form. It is also pronounced as Dekni. It represents an attractive mixture of Indian melody and Western rhythm. It is mainly performed by Christian girls adorned in Indian attires.
It is a Maharashtrian and Goan folk dance performed by the women in the Konkan region during Hindu religious festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Vrata or towards the end of other dances like Dhalo.
Dressed in flashy and colorful traditional costumes, the local folk groups give spectacular beautiful dance performances. The float parade is the highlight of the festival. There is festive energy surrounding the Konkani diaspora during this festival as it envelops the whole place with its celebration colors.
7.5 Ghode Modini
This folk dance is a major attraction during the Shigmo festival during harvest season in Goa. This dance is popular in the Talukas part of Goa. Literally, it is a dance involving horse-like movements.
The best way to absorb the local culture of Goa is being part of the dance and drama festivals. The folk dramas of Goa are colourful with a lot of song and dance involved. The themes include contemporary social issues and stories from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata.
It is a ritualistic and folk theatre form based on mythological stories. Popular Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is presented during the Holi festival, which is celebrated as Shigmo in Goa and Konkan areas. Ran means battle and Male means the traditional torch used as a source of light.
It is a lively form of music and dance that originated in Multan and Balochistan, also thrived in Sandalbar areas of Punjab. It is slower and more rhythmic.
It is a popular folk dance form of Haryana. It is mostly performed by the agriculture community of Haryana. This dance is performed mainly in the months of February and March.
It is also known as Dhamal dance. It is performed only by men. They thank God for the good harvest season. When they see good crops swaying in their lands they celebrate this happiness by doing the Daph dance.
It is one of the popular traditional folk dances of the Northern Indian state of Haryana. ‘Loor’ means girl in some part of Haryana. Like any other folk dance, it is also a medium for the local people to express joy and sorrow. It is very popular in Bangar and Bagar region of Haryana.
It is a ritualistic dance form which is performed in the procession taken out in the memory of saint Gugga. In this performance, the devotees dance around the grave of Gugga Pir by singing various types of songs in his respect and praise. It is exclusively performed by males.
9. Himachal Pradesh
This popular folk dance of the state is performed by women in sarees on slow music with graceful movements.
It refers to the province of Shimla and Sloan. The dance is performed in honour of Lord Mahasu. It is an important part of the Mahasu devta fair held every year in August. The dancers sway to the tune of melodious ballads portraying the lifestyle of the people in that region.
10. Jammu & Kashmir
It is a folk dance which originated in the Muslim community of the state of Kashmir in India. The dance originated several years back in order to celebrate the good weather of the spring season and also for the purpose of merriment in the various festivals like Eid-ul-Fitr.
The Kashmiri folk dance in which two young girls hold each other’s hand in a cross and try to swirl the other girl round in circles. It is usually performed for welcoming spring in Kashmir.
10.4 Kud Dandi Nach
Kud dance is of much importance in the Bhaderwah region. It is also known as Dekhu dance. It is a dance where a large number of people gather and dance together to please the local deities. The dance exhibits swaying and rhythmic movements.
This folk dance is a great source of recreation for the public and is a vital part of several festivities. This dance form is practically extinct today.
11.2 Karma Munda
This dance is performed at Karma festival to celebrate the rainy season in August and September.
It is an Indian folk dance form from the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal. It is a folk dance of Sadan and significant tribal population of Chotanagpur region.
11.4 Janani Jhumar
Jhumar is a female-centric dance and is famous by the name of Janani Jhumar, where Janani means feminine. The dance also involves male participation.
11.5 Mardani Jhumar
It is a Nagpuri folk dance performed by men in the Indian states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha. Men wear ghungroo, hold swords, shield and dance in a circle by holding each other’s hand.
It is performed by the men of the Munda tribe. The dance involves martial arts with a blend of dance moves, which requires immense energy.
It is usually performed on folk music and also on the drums beat. The men perform it on the Holi festival and even make use of colored water and powder while dancing on this Phagua dance.
It is a confluence of dance, costumes, music, drama, and dialogues. Yakshagana is derived from many names including a dashavatara.
This folk dance is seen at the Huttari festival. It is also known as the Kodagu dance. It is one of the most spirited dances of Karnataka and has various local versions.
It is a folk dance which is performed by the men during harvest season. The performers basically belong to the Halakki Vakkaliga Community and also found living in the north coastal region of Karnataka. This dance starts on full moon day and is executed by 12 to 14 dancers.
12.4 Dollu Kunitha
It is a major popular drum dance of Karnataka. Accompanied by singing, it provided spectacular variety and complexity of skills.
It is a folk dance which originated as a ritual dedicated to Draupadi known in these parts as Droupthamma. The ritual is performed on a full moon day.
13.1 Ottan Thullal
It is a comedic dance and poetic performance form of Kerala. It is the solo performance that combines the dance and stories. The stories are based on mythology.
It is also known as Thiruvathirakali, which is an extremely popular folk dance performed by the Maidens of Kerala. It is a group dance and is mainly performed on the occasion of Onam and Thiruvathira. Women, both young and old submerge themselves in the spirit of the occasion and dance with perfect ease.
It is a combination of traditional song and dance, which particularly performed to the beats of Dholki, a percussion instrument. Lavani is noted for this powerful rhythm. Lavani has contributed substantially to the development of Marathi folk theatre.
This folk dance is performed by young girls with heavy clothes and makeup and traditional music.
It is the dance form of Koli Fisherfolk of Maharashtra. The community has its own distinct identity and lively dances. The dance incorporates elements that this community is most familiar with - sea and fishing.
Or Lazium is a folk dance form. Dancers carry a small musical instrument with jingling cymbals called Lezim, after which the dance form is named. There are a minimum of 20 dancers in lezim.
15. Madhya Pradesh
It is regarded as one of the best dance forms for any event or occasion. This dance is enjoyed more and performed at prosperity time.
It is a solo dance performed by ladies on special occasions like weddings, birthdays, or any other special occasion. It is a coveted folk dance of the nomadic tribes of MP. During the performance, the women balance a small pitcher or an earthen pot on their heads, known as ‘Matki’ in Hindi.
The other variations of the Matki dance form are Aada and Khada nach.
Dance performances are restricted to the unmarried girls of MP. This dance is displayed on the occasion of the festival of Holi. the girls usually hail from a semi-rural background, rather than a totally rural lifestyle.
15.5 Grida Dance
It is performed by the locals of MP when the Rabi crop is ready to harvest in the region. The participation is from various villages of the state. One village acts as the host to the festivity and each village takes turns in hosting the event annually. Depending on the tempo of the foot movements made by the Grida dancers, the dance begins with Sela, followed by Selalarki and ends up with the Selabhadoni.
16.1 Dol Cholam
It is a drum dance that is performed during Holi in Manipur.
The Thang-Ta dance of Manipur evolved from martial arts drills promoted by the kings of Manipur. The dance is exciting and is performed by young men holding swords and shields.
16.3 Lai Haraoba
It is the re-enactment of creation. It is a festival associated with the Meetei people. The dance gestures are composed in the choreography of Ras to express the character of Sri Krishna of Vrindavan.
16.4 Pung Cholom
It is the soul of Manipuri Sankirtana music and classical Manipuri dance. The Pung Cholam is a unique classical dance of Manipur. This dance may be performed by men or women and is usually a prelude to the Ras Lila.
17.1 Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem
It is a Thanksgiving dance where all the people meet once a year at the end of the harvesting season. They sow the seeds for the next season symbolizing the beginning of the new. It is celebrated in the month of April.
The dance festival is an annual festival of the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya. It is celebrated during Autumn at Smit, the cultural centre of the Khasi hills.
The dance form is tremendously famous among the Pnar tribal community in Meghalaya. Pnar people are very fond of colours, music, dance, and their heritage. This dance is a reflection of their rich taste and vibrant colour of culture. Both men and women take part in the performance.
18.1 Cheraw Dance
It is a traditional cultural dance consisting mostly of six to eight people holding pairs of bamboo staves on another horizontally placed bamboo on the ground.
It is a folk dance that can be termed as a community dance. It is usually performed during the ceremony of ‘Khuangchawi’. This folk dance has religious significance and is very important for the Mizo people.
This folk dance is performed by the tribes of Mizoram. It is mainly practised during the festival of Chapchar kut which is regarded as one of the most significant festivals of Mizo people.
Originally this was a Lakher dance, which has now been adopted by all the mizos.
This folk dance is performed by the ‘Pawi’ community on two different occasions. Interestingly, both the dances have a diametrically opposite mood. This dance is an integral part of their culture and traditions.
It is a popular Paihte dance performed by men and women. While dancing, the dancers sing a responsive song. A drummer is the leader and director of the dance.
The dance depicts the war culture. The dancers dress up like warriors and move in a rhythmic style with the beats of a drum. The dance is a highly energetic one and is performed by the male folk of the tribe.
The dance form is a festival dance performed for the amusement of the crowd. The clapping and chanting of the group radiate energy through the dancers and the viewers. It is a celebration of unity and is an inspiration to the tribe.
The dance is performed exclusively by the men of the tribe. It involves highly energetic movements of the body and skilful use of the props. It is performed by a group.
The dance is performed in traditional attire. The women wear a simple skirt and blouse, while men wear the traditional dhoti or cloth tied around their waist. Headgears are an essential part of their costume.
It is classified as folk dance as the dress code of Ghumara resembles more like a tribal dance. It is a package of social entertainment, relaxation of the mind, love for dance, devotion towards it, and the brotherhood that it promotes amongst the various castes that come together to give the performance.
This famous dance form is practised by the Piakas of the Oriya army. The main target of this dance is to enhance physical excitement and to develop inner courage.
It was originally designated a particular dance performed by Sikh and Muslim men in farming districts of the Punjab region of South Asia. The dance was associated primarily with the spring harvest festival, Besakhi, and it is from one of the major products of the harvest - bhang (hemp) - that bhangra drew its name.
It is a popular folk dance of women in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. The dance is often considered to be derived from the ancient dance known as the ring dance and is just as energetic as bhangra.
It is a traditional folk dance of Rajasthan. It was the Bhil tribe who performed it to worship Goddess Sarasvati which was later embraced by other Rajasthani communities. The dance is chiefly performed by veiled women who wear flowing dresses called ghagra.
The dance is accompanied by traditional songs where male performed produces robust rhythm on the Dholak. Music is an essential part of the dance that’s why the Chakri dancers are accompanied by the group of skilful traditional singers who sing as the women start dancing.
It is colourful and one of the most important festivals of people of Rajasthan and is observed throughout the state with great fervour and devotion by womenfolk who worship Gauri, the wife of Lord Shiva during March- April. It is the celebration of spring, harvest, etc.
22.4 Jhulan Leela
Known for its spectacular display of decorated swings, song, and dance, Jhulan is a joyful festival celebrating the Radha-Krishna love story coupled with the romantic fervour of the rainy season in India.
23.1 Chu Faat
It is measured as the oldest folk dance of Sikkim belonging to the Lepcha group. It is presented to pay respect to the five peaks as Mt. Nursing, Mt. Kabru, Mt. Pandim, Mt. Kanchenjunga, and Mt. Simbrum which are known as the protector of the five natural resources such as medicine, salt, minerals, food grains, and sacred books.
23.2 Singhi Chaam or The Snow Lion
It is also known as Kanchendzonga Dance, which is a lion dance form in Sikkim whereby dancers perform in a lion costume that represents the snow lion. It is the dance of the Bhutia people and was said to have been introduced by Chador Namgyal, the third Chogyal of Sikkim, in the 18th century.
23.3 Yak Chaam
This dance is a story-based folk dance. Yak Cham dance tells the story of a mountain boy and its biggest support, the domestic Yak.
23.4 Denzong Gnenha
It is another popular dance form of the Bhutias that depicts their astute faith in their gods and gurus along with the peaceful and joyous nature of the community.
23.5 Tashi Yangku
It is believed to bring good destiny to the land. The Bhutia community believes that there are several gods as well as goddesses who can control the natural phenomenon like floods, landslides, droughts, snowfalls, etc. this dance is meant to alleviate the Gods continuing prosperity and peace in the region.
24. Tamil Nadu
It is a folk dance, popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, in India, danced mostly by Tamil women in circle.
The dance involved religion offering homage to the temple Goddess by the women of a region. Southern India is famous for patronizing performing art and cultural activities which has transformed the social scenario of these states.
It is a folk dance, where Kavadi is a wooden shaft with two triangular conical bamboo frames tied to both the ends. The pilgrims to the temple of Lord Muruga at Palani carry these Kavadis on their shoulders all the way singing and dancing to the music provided by Nadaswaram and Thavil.
It is a folk dance performed by the Bru people, one of the Tripuri clan. It is performed by women and young girls, about 4 to 6 members in a team, singing, balancing on earthen pitchers, and managing other props such as a bottle on the head and earthen lamp on the hand while only the lower half of the body is moved.
26. Uttar Pradesh
In Uttar Pradesh, a Nautanki is staged in Maidans and courtyards. The music is not precisely classical or even folk but boasts of a model of its own, which does not differ much from drama to drama. The poetry is penned in diverse metrical patterns and snug in accordance with a special convention.
It is generally performed by mobile troupes that roam around the village to village. This dance is performed primarily on Rasia, a song form that is entirely based on the theme of Krishna-Radha love. It is a folk tradition that has incorporated elements of Indian classical music, drama and dance.
This dance is one of the most popular and well-known forms of folk dance in Uttar Pradesh of India. It is performed just before the arrival of the monsoons to express joy and happiness.
This is an acrobatic dance form from the region of Teri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, this dance employs bamboo as a support and is presented by the men folk only.
It is the oldest-folk dance of Uttarakhand. The dance is a beautiful amalgamation of various steps. It is danced by both males and females.
It is one of the famous folk dances of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. It is basically a dance form which is performed by the people belonging to both the high and low caste. This is a community dance from where all the barriers related to the caste system are thrown to the wind.
All of the above dance forms belong to one country India. These Indian dance forms define the culture and tradition specific to their own states, regions and communities.
People of the country hold great respect and enthusiasm for these Indian dances and perform with their full heart and energy to satisfy the purpose behind dances. Indian folk dance gives meaning to ancient stories and their leaders.
Most of these folk dances are performed to please or praise various gods and goddesses which hold a very high importance to all the households in India.
There are different types of dance forms along with folk dance that is encouraged to be taken part in their performances for happiness and prosperity. This is the diversity which India holds among all its state.
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