Rajasthan: Folk Dances and Music

Rajasthan: Folk Dances and Music


Bhavai Dance


  • This artistic form of dance is believed to be originated in the neighboring state Gujarat and was soon picked up and adapted by the local tribal men and women and gave it a distinctive Rajasthani essence. This traditional folk dance, performed by the womens of the Jat, Bhil, Raigar, Meena, Kumhar, and Kalbelia communities of Rajasthan evolved from the extraordinary quality and capacity of the these communities to carry a number of pots of water on head over a long distance in the desert.


  • The male musician, playing the background music are the accompaniment of this artistic Bhavai dancers. Generally a melodious Rajasthani folk song are being sung by the musicians, adding to beauty of the Bhavai dance.


  • In festive occasion as well as in marriages also Bhavai dance performance can be seen.


Chakri Dance

ð Chakri, means ‘Chakkar’ (Circle) rotation in Hindi lang. Chakri is one of the most popular folk dance of Kanjar tribe. Kanjar tribe inhabited in some parts of Kota and Baran district of Rajasthan.Chakri Dance is performed in almost all the marriages and festival in the Haroti region of Rajasthan. Chakri dance is performed exclusively by the womenfolk of Kanjar tribe and it is also their main source of livelihood.

ð Music is an essential part of the dance that’s why the Chari Dancers are accompanied by the group of skillful traditional singers who sings as the women start the dance.

Chari Dance

  • Chari dance is one of the popular folk dances in Rajasthan India. This dance describes the art of collecting water in a chari or pot by the Rajasthani womens in their day to day life. The woman’s travels miles to collect water for the families and the joy is reflected through this Chari dance. This folk dance is performed by groups of dancers. In chari dance woman hold chari or pots on their head and a lighted lamp is then placed in the pot.
  • This dance does not have any particular movements except balancing the pots on their heads. This dance is also known as a welcome dance and is a significance of goodness.
  • The famous Chari dance belongs to Gujjar community of Kishangarh and only womens perform in this dance. These ladies carry brass pots on their heads balancing it to perfection.
  • The Chari Dance is often perform at the time of marriage occasions, on the birth of a male child or any big festival celebration in Rajasthan India.

Drum Dance

ð  Drum Dance, famous in Rajasthan India is a professional dance-form of Jhalore region of Rajasthan, where only the men participants can perform. In this dance, five men beat huge drums that are tied around their necks.

ð  There is no boundation for the performance of drum dance but it is generally performed in big occasions like festivals, marriage etc.

Fire Dance

  • Fire dance is a unique dance famous in the desert region of Rajasthan. This folk dance describes the lifestyle of Jasnathis of Bikaner and Churu districts of Rajasthan India. This is a very difficult dance to perform and is carried out by the Banjara community.


  • Some of the traditional folk dances, performed by the Banjara Community of Rajasthan is also sometime called as the fire dance, but is completely different from the above-mentioned performance. Here, the dance is performed around the Fire. The person dancing usually takes two flamed sticks in his hands and fills up his mouth with kerosene oil.


  • The fire dance is performed in the desert region of Rajasthan on the festive occasions like Holi, Janmashtami etc. This unique dance performance attracts viewers from all over.

Gair Dance

  • Gair is a very popular Rajathani folk dance. This traditional folk dance is one of the many dance- form of the Bhil community of Rajasthan. This is the one of the few performances where both men and women dance together. This folk dance is performed as a series of half swirl, as a simplier version.


  • The Bhil folk perform this dance by wearing colorful dresses and carrying swords, arrows and sticks.


  • Though Gair dance can performed any time as a form of entertainment but it is performed during any festive occasions. It is specially performed on the festive occasion of Holi and Janmastami. Festive occasions like Holi, Janmastami seems incomplete without the performance of Gair dance.

Gawari Dance

  • Gawari dance of Rajasthan is a tribal dance of the famous Bhil tribe. This is mainly a tribal dance drama and is beautifully expressed by its troupe having many different characters. Gawari tribal dance is a running dramatical dance which go from village to village for a month. Its is great entertainment for rural population.


  • Apart from the different characters of the dramatical dance, Gawari is accompany with a ‘madal’ and a ‘thali’.

Ghoomar Dance – Folk Dance of Rajasthan


  • Ghoomaris a traditional as well as an enthusiastic folk dance of Rajasthan. Ghoomar or Ghumar was basically developed by the Bhil tribe and was adopted by other Rajasthani communities. The Ghoomar dance is a particularly a women’s dance and performed by the women for exclusively ladies gatherings.

  • The popular Ghoomar Dance in Rajasthan India is known to be the characteristic dance of the Bhil tribe. The Kachhwaha Clan of Rajputs who ruled Jaipur defeated the Bhils and later acceded to a peaceful coexistence. It is, therefore, normal that the royalty would pick up some of the Bhil traditions and practices. From then it get associated with the royal ladies of Jaipur, who perform it on certain auspicious occasions.


  • Now it is performed on festive days in middle-class families in Udaipur, Jodhpur and Kota–Bundi areas. In Udaipur, it resembles the Garva of neighboring Gujarat and is very musical. In Jodhpur, the movement of the limbs is jerky. The Ghoomar of Kota-Bundi is very lively and impressive. The tune of the song which accompanies this dance is melodious and catchy.


  • Ghoomar dance is performed on the occasion of festive days and considered as one of the traditional rituals on the occasion of marriage, a bride is expected to dance the Ghoomar after being welcomed at her husband`s home.

Kachhi Ghodi

  • The Kachhi Ghodi Dance is one of the most popular Folk Dances of Rajasthan. This folk dance originated from the bandit regions of Shekhawati and is generally performed for the entertainment of the bridegroom’s party.This dance is performed by mens on dummy horses.


  • The songs in the Kachhi Ghodi Dance are generally about the overt businessman and traders of the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. And traders meant money; and traders meant long overnight journeys on caravans laden with expensive wares. The Kachhi Ghodi Dance Rajasthan depicts the confrontation of the bandits of the Bavaria clan of tribes with the passing commoners.

Kalbelia Dance – Folk Dance of Rajasthan


  • Kalbelia danceis a folk dance of Rajasthan state of India. It is well known by other names like ‘Sapera Dance’ or ‘Snake Charmer Dance’. Kalbelia dance is particularly performed by a Rajasthani tribe called ‘Kalbelia’. The popularity of this dance is so much worldwide that Rajasthan’s Kalbelia dance and songs are now in UNESCO’s representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity from the year 2010. In Kalbelia dance, males play various traditional instruments and females perform the dance. Kalbelia dance is one of the most sensuous dance among all Rajasthani dances.


  • Kalbelia dance has a traditional musical instrument which is Poongi also called Been. Poongi is a kind of woodwind musical instrument used by Kalbelia tribe during catching snakes.

Kathak Dance

  • Kathak Dance is famous and brilliant dance form in Rajasthan India. It is the 6th most popular dance of India and Jaipur gharana of Rajasthan is one of the well known Gharanas of India. Jaipur gharana developed a unique style and pure Kathak dance.


  • Kathak name is derived from the word Katha which means ‘story’. So Kathak is basically an art of story telling with the help of beautiful body movements.


  • Kathak dance has two main techniques. They are Nrittya which means pure dance and Abhinaya mean expressions.


  • The Kathak Dance can be perform in the time of any big celebration or any cultural programme night in rajasthan India.

Kathputli – The Puppet Dance of Rajasthan

  • Rajasthan Kathputli dance is world famous and well known as Puppetry dance. It is the old tradition of stories from mythology and legends are told through puppets in Rajasthan. String puppetry is very much famous in Rajasthan. Tradition of Kathputli is based on folk tales and stories. Scholars believe that folk tales convey the lifestyle of ancient Rajasthani tribal people and Kathputli art might have originated from present day Nagaur and surrounding areas.


  • Kathputli word is the combination of two Rajasthani language words Kath meaning wood and Putli meaning puppet.

Khayal Dance

  • ‘Khyal’ in hindi language means “Thought”. Khyal was a folk play which involves dance also. Khayal dance is the only dance which is inherited from different themes. Performed by the Bhawai tribe of Rajasthan. Their ancestors also perform this dance based on the themes of hindu epics sch as Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Women do not participate in Bhawai dances.


  • Khayal dance is believed to be originated from Jats and later on Bhawai dances which also include Jats, starts performing it.

Terah Taali

ð  Terah Taali is one of the folk dances of the princely state, Rajasthan. This folk dance is performed by the Kamada tribes who are traditional snake charmers. Besides this it is also performed by the tribes of Mirasi, Bhand, Dholi, Bhat and Nat. It is also practiced by Pokhran and Deedwana, to honour their folk hero, Baba Ramdeo, it consists of women sitting on the floor before his image.

ð  Terah Taali Dance is generally performed by well skilled artists. Thirteen manjeeras ( little brass disc) are tied to various parts of their body, which they strike with the ones they hold in their hand. This creates a rhythm on which the dancers move.

Walar Dance

  • Walar dance of Rajasthan is a beautiful and enthusiastic tribal dance performed particularly by women’s. Walar is an important dance of a Rajasthani tribe – Garasia. Known to be a prototype of famous Ghoomar danceof Rajasthan, it also involve simple circular movements of dancers on beats.
  • It is believed that its sophisticated version was performed in royal places of Rajasthan. Gangaur and Teej festivals are the best occasions to watch Walar dance. It is generally accompanied by the beats of the mandal, chang and a variety of other musical instruments which provide a lively rhythm to their dance sequences.



Two types of music that are especially famous in Rajasthan are described below:

Maand: Originated as court music, the maand is a distinct raga that was developed in Marwar. It is very sophisticated and involves complex inflexion of voices sung in deep bass but with time it permeated to the folk forms we know today and when ballads of the chivalrous rulers and local folk heroes are sung using maand raga, they have a unique haunting quality that echoes in the desert. Its popularity is evident from the fact that an entire festival in Jodhpur is dedicated to it exclusively.

Pabuji ka Phad: Pabuji Ramdeo was a folk hero of the 14th century in the Bhopa region whose legends have become timeless in the form of ballads that are sung against a painted scroll known as the ‘Phad’ paintings where scenes from his story are portrayed in comic-strip fashion. Its performances were always held at night, when the villagers gathered for these performances. The Bhopa minstrel would sing the ballad and give the music using ravanhatha while his wife used to hold an oil lantern illuminate just the particular portion of the scroll that matched with the episode of the story he was singing about.

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