Folk Dance in India, as compared to Classical Dancing, is simpler and expresses the sorrows and joys of life, gratitude to and the fear of God. Hence, Folk Dances of India can be divided into 3 categories, as:
The Dances as a religious ceremony in the Temple
The Dances to whip up war spirit.
The Dance for the simple joys and fear of life.
In India, there are a lot of folk dances in the first category, especially the ‘Dance of Prayer for Rain’. It is performed all over the county as India has a tropical climate and in summers there is no rain. The 2nd category of dance is also performed all over the country. Performers wear typical dresses with glittering swords, spears, etc and dance in rhythmical steps. The 3rd kind of dance is performed to celebrate various moods and events of life.
In a small village named Santa, near Shantiniketan, natives lead a very difficult and a poor life. The only amusement for them is folk dance. When the moonlight begins to shine young men, women and children dance to the beat of drums and look happy.
In various states of India, folk dances are actively performed. Let us study some of them:
Folk Dances of Assam:
Assam is situated in the East of India. The natives of Assam perform lots of splendid dances particularly in the 1st category. They strongly believe in Lord Krishna, the God of Love.
Some of their folk dances are Saturi Dance (this dance is woven around Lord Krishna’s childhood pranks), Bihu Dance (this is a thanks giving dance done in the mid of April after the harvesting season), Kasi Dance (performed in Kasi land in which natives who look like Mongolians, dance with fine steps to the sound of drums standing upright and moving freely), Naga Dance (the most powerful and beautiful Indian folk dance performed by Nagas living near the boundary with North Burma.
Kimbku is a ritual war dance, which is danced expressing going to war), Khamba Dance (performed by men and women in pleasure), Niruira Lim Dance (a man and a woman standing face-to-face and begin cock-fight like movements), Kabui Naga Dance (this dance starts while sitting and then moving, hands freely. Others of particular mention are Gnan Lam, Hegga Naga and Miri Yari).
Kuki Naga Dance (also known as the famous Bamboo Dance, in which four persons take four long bamboos and they open and close them to the rhythm of the drums) and the Naga Puja Dance (the natives of Assam plains named Boro, pray for victory to Lord Shiva, in this way).
Folk Dances of West Bengal:
West Bengal never had any tradition of folk dances but Gurudev Tagore discovered them. Some of them are:
Kirtan – A very extensively practiced folk, this is a pure hermit dance.
Kathi Dance – It is a stick dance. The dancers hold sticks in their hands, which they drive on each other. Another is the Dhali dance.
Raibesi – It is a manly folk dance. It is used to express gestures like drawing bow, throwing a spear, etc.
Jatra – This is a 400-year-old dance played in both East and West Bengal. The dance depicts stories of Lord Krishna’s life.
Charak Gambhira – This is a humorous dance performed by putting grotesque marks.
(to be conti.....)
Other famous dances include Kali and Dharam Puja Dances.