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10 Most Famous Folk Dances of India

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India is well-known for its rich and diverse culture. Different regions of India have their own folk dances which are performed during religious or harvest festivals or even on occasions calling for celebration such a wedding or birth of a child etc. Folk dances are simple dances with simple steps and movements to express joy and happiness. Specific costumes are worn for the various folk dances which are generally flamboyant and worn with extensive jewelry.

Here are some of the most popular folk dances performed across the different Indian states:

Kashmiri women performing Rouff

Kashmiri women performing Rouff

Dumhal dance being performed by Kashmiri artists in Delhi

Dumhal & Rouff – Jammu and Kashmir

Dumhal is a folk dance performed by the men of the Wattal tribe of the beautiful Kashmir valley on specific occasions. The performers wearing long colorful robes, tall conical caps studded with beads and shells, move in a procession carrying a banner which is dug into the ground and then the men begin to dance in a circle around it.

Rouff is another folk dance of Kashmir which is performed solely by women on festive occasions. It is characterized by simple footwork on catchy folk songs.

Enthusiastic men performing bhangra

Enthusiastic men performing bhangra

Raunak Trinjana Di @ Tor Punjaban Di Giddha Competition 2012

Bhangra & Giddha – Punjab

Bhangra is one of the most popular folk dances from the state of Punjab. It refers to the traditional dance originating in the Majha area of Punjab. Bhangra is performed with classic Punjabi dresses (lungi, kurta and pagdi) and with musical instruments like Dhol, Chimta, Algoza etc. It is famous for the energy and enthusiasm of the dancers on foot-tapping folk songs. Any celebration or festive occasion in Punjab is incomplete without Bhangra.

Giddah is the female folk dance which is performed along with singing traditional couplets called boliyan.

Dandiya Raas performance in traditional attires

Dandiya Raas performance in traditional attires

2007 Edmonton Garba Girls 1st place winners

Garba & Dandiya – Gujarat

The traditional Garba and Dandiya Raas from Gujarat state are performed during the festival of Navratri. Traditional garbas are performed around a centrally lit lamp or a picture or statue of the Goddess Shakti as an object of veneration. Garba is performed by women and involves circular patterns of movement with rhythmic clapping. Dandiya Raas is an energetic and vibrant dance which is performed using small, polished sticks.

Woman performing the traditional kalbeliya dance

Woman performing the traditional kalbeliya dance

kalbeiya dance by Maya Devi & Rajput Maharani

Ghoomar & Kalbeliya – Rajasthan

Ghoomar is the traditional folk dance from the royal state Rajasthan which is performed by the of the Bhil tribes and now is popular among other Rajasthani communities. It is performed by veiled women who wear colourful ghagras. Ghoomar was ranked fourth in 'Top 10 local dances around the world' in the year 2013.

Kalbeliya dance is one of the most sensuous dance forms performed by the Kalbeliya community of Rajasthan who are basically snake charmers. Hence the dance pattern also resembles the swaying movements of snakes. Both men and women participate in the Kalbeliya dance to celebrate festive occasions.

Traditional Bihu dance of Assam

Traditional Bihu dance of Assam

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Kumol Kumol | Zubeen Garg | Utpal Das | Sushmita Baruah | Bihu Song 2015

Bihu – Assam

Bihu dance from Assam is performed by both men and women during the Bihu festival. Brisk and graceful dance steps with hand movements make this an absolute delight to watch. Musical instruments like Dhol(Drum), Pepa(Horn), Gagana (an instrument made of bamboo) are used in this dance. Dancers wear traditional colorful Assamese clothes in red and mustard colors.

A scintillating lavani performance

A scintillating lavani performance

Lavni Queen; Minal Yadav Best of Best Performance

Lavani – Maharashtra

Lavani is a folk dance from Maharashtra which is a combination of song and dance on the beats of dholki. The word Lavani is derived from 'Lavanya' which means beauty. Female dancers wearing traditional nine-yard long sarees perform this sensuous and erotic folk dance. It is characterized by songs sung on quick tempo. The songs in Lavani are generally erotic and sensuous in nature. It is performed as a form of entertainment for the audience.

Pulikali Tiger dance on the streets of Thrissur

Pulikali Tiger dance on the streets of Thrissur

Folk art Pulikali Tiger dance

Pulikali – Kerala

Pulikali or Tiger dance is one of the most popular folk dances in Kerala during Onam festival in Thrissur. It is a colorful recreational folk dance form which is performed by male dancers who are dressed like tigers to entertain people on the occasion of Onam, the annual harvest festival in Kerala. It is mainly practiced in Thrissur district of Kerala.

Women performing Karakattam, the folk dance of Tamilnadu

Women performing Karakattam, the folk dance of Tamilnadu

Karagattam tamil folk dance

Karakattam – Tamil Nadu

Karakattam is an ancient Tamil folk dance, performed by balancing beautifully decorated water pot on the head. This dance is performed in praise of the rain goddess "Mari Amman". This dance can be performed individually or in pairs, by both the men and the women. Drums and long pipes are used in this dance that add energy and vigor to the dance. It is mainly performed to entertain the audience.

Matki dance performance

Matki dance performance

Balancing art of Matka dance in India!

Matki Dance – Madhya Pradesh

Matki Dance from Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh is an important dance form which is performed usually on weddings, birthdays or special occasions. This dance is mostly performed solo by ladies and involves balancing an earthern pot on the head. The ladies are dressed in lehengas or sarees and adorn many ornaments. Dhol is the main musical instrument used in this dance.

Traditional bamboo dance in the beautiful hills of Mizoram

Traditional bamboo dance in the beautiful hills of Mizoram

Mass bamboo dance at Reiek, Mizoram

Cheraw Dance - Mizoram

Cheraw Dance which is popularly known as Bamboo dance from Mizoram is a folk dance that requires a lot of skill. Four people hold two pairs of long bamboos across one another on the ground. As the bamboo sticks are clapped together, the dancers in traditional tibal attires weave patterns through them in time to the rhythm. This dance requires precision and concentration to the rhythm. This famous dance of Mizoram is the centre of attraction during festive occasions. The costumes worn by the female performers during the Cheraw dance Dance include Thihna, Vakiria, Kawrchei and Puanchei which come in vibrant colours.

© 2016 Shaloo Walia


Shaloo Walia (author) from India on July 04, 2017:

My pleasure!

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on July 04, 2017:

Shalloo Waliaji, I've had the opportunity to watch almost all dances of India when I lived in Tezpur, Assam. Those days were about 39 years ago, Your article has helped me recall back those fascinating memories of bygone days. Thank you.

Shaloo Walia (author) from India on May 08, 2016:

Thank you Harish!

Harish Mamgain from New Delhi , India on May 08, 2016:

Shaloo, I was aware of most of the dances except three of them. Dhumal, karakattam and Pulikali. I liked and enjoyed the beatiful presentation of these graceful folk dances.

Shaloo Walia (author) from India on February 05, 2016:

@Deb India is beautiful with its rich cultural diversity. This is just a glimpse.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on February 05, 2016:

These are all fascinating. Dance has always enthralled me, and to be witness to all this wonderful dance would clearly fill me with the utmost joy, especially he bamboo dance, which I am certain that I have seen. I believe I was a child when I saw it.

Shaloo Walia (author) from India on February 02, 2016:

Thank you pstraubie48! India is a very beautiful and welcoming country. You will love it if you come here.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 01, 2016:

It would be such fun to see and experience these in person...maybe one day I can travel there.

Thank you for sharing

Angels are on the way to you ps

Shaloo Walia (author) from India on February 01, 2016:

Thank you Dora! These folk dances are a part and parcel of our lives. Any occasion worth celebrating is incomplete without them.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 31, 2016:

The costumes are so attractive and the dances demonstrate lots of skill and creativity. There must be tons of cultural shows to attend. All interesting!

Shaloo Walia (author) from India on January 31, 2016:

Thank you Rajan! Our country is so vast and culturally diverse. There's a lot which we need to know yet.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 31, 2016:

A brilliantly done and colourful hub. I like that you included videos for each dance form. Some folk dances were new to me. Thanks for sharing.

Shaloo Walia (author) from India on January 30, 2016:

Thank you Devika! Indian culture is so rich and diverse. I'm proud to be born in such a beautiful country.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 30, 2016:

Awesome! Beautiful colors and so interesting. The dances are fascinating and creative.

Shaloo Walia (author) from India on January 29, 2016:

Thank you Bill!

Shaloo Walia (author) from India on January 29, 2016:

Thank you Missy! This is the beauty of Indian culture. We have so many diverse cultures within our country. Unity in diversity is what makes India stand out.

Shaloo Walia (author) from India on January 29, 2016:

Thank you Surabhi! Bhangra is the easiest to learn and anyone can jump in and shake a leg. And then we Punjabis are ever ready for Bhangra whenever, wherever...

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 29, 2016:

Very was nice to see them enacted...thank you once more.

Missy Smith from Florida on January 29, 2016:

I loved watching the dances and reading your descriptions of them and how they fit in with the Indian culture.

You said it was simple folk dance, but I have to say, even though the moves may look simple, I suspect it is extremely difficult to keep in perfect rhythm with the other members of the dance group. The synchronicity is what makes it beautiful I think.

Very pretty hub, rich with bold bright colors and so many different dances and costumes. It was a pleasure to read and watch the videos.

I don't know if you are familiar with the rides at Disney, but my favorite ride there since I was a little girl is "It's A Small World" this boat ride takes you through all the different countries in the world and the music and dress that go along with that culture. It's so magical. Even though your hub is totally about Indian culture, it still reminded me of that ride.:)

Very pretty hub, Shaloo!

Surabhi Kaura on January 29, 2016:

Fantastic hub! East or west, Bhangra is the best! All are good though. Our Indian culture is so rich. You have graced this hub with your beautiful writes, videos and pictures. Awesome, Shaloo... awesome!

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