Rajasthan - Music and Dances of Rajasthan

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Music and Dances of Rajasthan

Music of Rajasthan

Music and dance plays a vital role in the life of people of Rajasthan. The cool stillness of the desert after the hot days are filled with rhythmic dance and emotional music. Dance and Music are admired as skills by the inhabitants of the desert. There are some communities of entertainers in Rajasthan. This is the only source of income for most of these communities. Generally, families would invite the Dholis, Bhats, Bhaands and Nats to dance and sing at family celebrations, marriages or births, or other festivities. Rajasthani marriage is incomplete without their performance.  Professional entertainers who performed any specific type of dance like puppeteers, Bhopas and the Kachhi Ghodi dancers are found in the more fertile areas of eastern Rajasthan. Some of the famous entertainers of Rajasthan are the Kalbeliya dancers, with their musical snake dances and the Manganiyars and Langhas of Jaisalmer. The 'Dholis' or the singing community of Rajasthan is famous at domestic and international levels.

Style and pattern of the dances and of music vary from region to region. The most important are the devotional songs and the communities who perform these songs.

Rajasthani music of different types which comes from a custom which is very old and has a very rich diversity. The voices of both male and female are very strong, clear and powerful. Various songs sung by the women truly depicts feminine moods and strong family ties that govern their lives.

Dances of Rajasthan

Dances of Rajasthan traces their origin to the rural customs and traditions. The dancers who perform the dances are still following the customs and traditions of ancient times. These dances are performed by the dancers in colourful costumes and different expressions and body movements. One of the most important dance form of Rajasthan are Ghumar and Jhumar.  

People of Rajasthan have their own ways to enjoy the evening in the form of folk music and dance. The desert comes alive when the entertainers perform the folk dances. The females also take part equally in these these activities.

Ghoomar dance is the distinctive form of dance of Rajasthan that is by the womens only in the homes. This dance is only performed in Privacy whereas all other folk dances are associated to any specific festival or religion. These dances have become more famous in the recent. In the Ghoomar dance, the dancers move in circles, making the Ghagra (like a long skirt) which flow in both clockwise and anti clockwise is very amazing.

Other Dance form of Rajasthan is Chari dance and Fire Dance; In Chari Dance the dancers hold a pot on their heads with lighted lamp. It is a very unique art of balancing and requires a lot of practice. In Fire Dance, the performance of this dance requires a lot of bravery. In Fire Dance, boys and men jump over the live charcoal and wood, and the drumbeats in the background add to the effect of the performance.

Folk Dances of Rajasthan

Some of the best known folk dances of Rajasthan are Bhavai, Chari, Drum Dance, Fire Dance, Gair, Ghoomar, Kachhi Ghodi, Kathak, Kathputli, Sapera Dance and Terah Tali.

1. Ghoomar
Ghoomar is a community dance form of the Rajputs and performed by the women of the house. The word "Ghoomar" is derived from the word ghoomna, which means moving in circles. Ghoomar is a very simple dance in which the women uses simple swaying movements to convey the spirit of any favourable occasion and move elegantly in circles. There is a marvelous charm as the skirts flare slowly while the women twirl in circles, their faces covered by the veil. Womens of all age group, whether young or old, take part in the dance, which lasts for hours into the night. A new bride, on being welcomed to the home of her husband too, is expected perform Ghoomar dance as one of the customs of the marriage.

2. Gair
Gair is one of the dance forms of the Bhil tribes. This dance is performed by both men and women together and is performed at the time of Holi festival. There is some difference in the performance of men and women in this dance. While performing this dance, men wear long, pleated tunics that open out into full-length skirts as they move first in clockwise then in anti-clockwise direction, beating their sticks to create the rhythm when they turn. Gair dance is usually performed on any auspicious occassions like Holi, Janmastami etc.

3. Chari Dance

Chari Dance is most famous dance of Rajasthan which is mostly performed in the Kishangarh region. In this dance dancers perform with a Chari or pot on the head. The dancers make the elaborate patterns with their hands while holding brass pots on their heads. This dance is only performed by womens.  The performance of the dance is made more striking with the flames from cotton seeds set alight, so that the bobbing heads create streaks of illuminated patterns as they move easily around the floor.

4. Kachhi Ghodi
Kachhi Ghodi dance initiated from the Bandit region of Shekhawati. This dance is performed by the men for the entertainment in the bridegroom's party.
The men wear dresses like dhotis, kurtas and turbans which are lavishly decorated and which and ride on the dummy horses. Holding naked swords, these men move musically on the beats of drums and a ballad singer sings the exploits of the Bavaria bandits of the Shekhawati Regions.

5. Fire Dance

Fire dance is performed by the Jasnathis of Churu and Bikaner. This dance is performed by the dancers on a large bed of flaming coals on to the beats of drums that increases in crescendo till the dancers emerge to be in a near rhythmic state. Fire dance is generally performed in winters.

6. Bhavai
The Bhavai dance is one of the most amazing dance. In this dance, the veiled women dancers balance up to seven or nine brass pots as they dance nimbly, pirouetting, and then swaying with the soles of their feet balance on top of a glass, or on the edge of a weapon. Some of the performers use only papier mache pots that are fixed together, and move their feat, wonderfully.

7. Drum Dance
The drum dance is performed by the warriors. It is a dance of Jhalore region of Rajasthan. This dance is performed only by men, men hit huge large that are tied around their necks. In this dance, a nude sword is put on the mouth of a man, and juggle three swords with his hands while avoiding the injury caused to himself. His troupe that consists of musician holding aloft drums around their necks and cymbals in their hands support him in this dance. In Drum Dance, men musicians can play brass plates, big drums or Thalis.

8. Kathak
The word Kathak is taken from Sanskrit word katha meaning story. Kathak is a traditional and formal type of dance which originate from Gharana of Jaipur, it is a very important and famous Gharana where it reached to such a scale that launched it as distinct from the other centres. Now a days, Kathak dance is very famous and regained popularity, it is in the state of decline during the rule of the British Empire. It is now one of the classical dance form of India.
The most prominent centre of Kathak in Jaipur is the Jaipur Kathak Kendra, where this dance form is still taught by some of the previous teachers of the Jaipur Gharana.

9. Kathputli
Kathputli Dance means the dances of puppets. Kathputli dance of Rajasthan is well-known all over the world and is famous as Puppetry dance. It is the old tradition of stories from tradition and story of the past are told through puppets in Rajasthan. String puppetry is very famous puppetry of Rajasthan.
The puppets in Rajasthan are one of the most important sources of entertainment in Rajasthan. It is an ancient and popular form of folk entertainment in Rajasthan and Kathputli dance is considered as most significant as compared to all the theatrical forms.

10. Sapera Dance
Sapera dance is a folk dance which is performed in the Rajasthan state of India by the Kalbelia snake-charmer’s society, the sapera dancers wear long, black skirts decorated with silver ribbons. This dance is mostly performed by the female dancers. It is a very popular dance of Rajasthan and is the heart of Culture and Tradition of Rajasthan. This dance is originated by Kalbelia - a formal tribe of Rajasthan. Kalbelia is a unique tribe which always moves from place to place for their job. It is also well-known by other names like ‘Snake Charmer Dance’ or ‘Sapera Dance’. Kalbelia dance is mostly performed by a Rajasthani tribe called ‘Kalbelia’. Kalbelia dance is very popular all over the world. Now, Rajasthan’s Kalbelia dance and songs are listed in UNESCO’s representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity from the year 2010. In Kalbelia dance, males play a different types of traditional instruments and females perform dance. This dance extends all over the Rajasthan.

11. Terah Taali
Terah Taali is one of the most popular folk dances of the very significant state, Rajasthan. Terah Taali Dance is usually performed by well skilled artists. Thirteen Manjeeras (little brass disc) are attached to various parts of their body, which they hit with the ones they hold in their hand. This creates a beat on which the dancers move. The dancers balance pots on their hands and hold a weapon in their mouth, for making the performance more beautiful. The dance begins with the women, who sit on the floor and her body parts are joined with the Manjeeras. This dance is performed by the members of the Kamada tribe, Terah Taali Dance; Rajasthan is one of the very old performing arts of Rajasthan. This dance was performed with Manjeeras and other instruments which are made of metal.

Folk Musical Instruments

The folk singers of Rajasthan also play various musical instruments like the Ektara, ghunghroo and sarangi to entertain the people of Rajasthan by the sweet sounds of the music.  
Musical instruments of Rajasthan are very necessary to make the traditional music of Rajasthan more melodious. Sarangi is one of the most prominent folk musical instrument of Rajasthan more melodious, which is found in different forms in Rajasthan. These musical instruments are used with the songs and the performance is performed with these instruments in such a way that the songs sound incomplete without them. While some of these musical instruments are played individually i.e. without any lyrics.Dhol or Drum is a very famous musical instrument of Rajasthan.
Some of the important wind instruments of Rajasthan are Flute and Shehnai.
Khartaal, Thali and a Metal Platter are some of the auto phonic instruments of Rajasthan which are generally used during the religious ceremonies. The khartaal is generally used as backdrop for bhajans (devotional songs).

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