Folk Dance


Folk Dances - A Spontaneous Expression Of Happiness

Folk dances were performed spontaneously to celebrate joy and happiness or the change of seasons.  They are simple dances that can be performed with ease and consist of natural graceful movements.  No celebration in the villages in the north and south of India are complete without the performance of folk dances either depicting folklores related to the event or simply a series of vigorous movement just expressing emotions.  They are performed by the young and the old alike and by men and women of the village.  It could mark a celebration, thanksgiving at harvest, the initiation of a maiden, or even a funeral.  Sometimes it is done to pacify the gods, to herald the arrival of the monsoons, after a hunt, or even to ward off impending calamities in a village.

Distinctive Folk Dances In Different Regions Of India

Every state in South India has its own distinctive folk dances.  These folk dances follow very simple steps that have evolved over the ages and change from dance to dance.  Padayani or Paddeni is a famous folk dance of Kerala that is performed at temple festivals.  The word itself means military formations and the dancers impersonate divine or semi-divine beings by wearing kolams or huge headgears/masks that are painted on the stalks of arecanut fronds accompanied by instrumentalists playing wild and loud rhythms on their thappu and cymbals.  The other well-known dances of Kerala are the Margamkali, Kaikottikali, Kolkali, Oppana, Chakyar Koothu, Theyyam, Kummattikali, Poorakkali, and Thirayattam,.  Tamil Nadu is most famous for its Kummi and Kolattam dances performed by tribal women during festivals.  In Kummi, they form circles and clap in rhythm while in Kolattam they strike wooden rods to keep up the tempo of the dance.  Kargam is performed to appease the rain goddess Mari Amman.  Performers paint themselves to resemble tigers during the Puli Vesham or Puliyattam dance.  Theru Koothu, Kavadi Attam, Oyilattam, Parai Attam, Bomallattam are some of the other folk dances performed in Tamil Nadu.

Honoring Nature Through Dances

Yakshagana is the most famous folk dance in Karnataka, South India.  Dollu Kunitha is performed to the beating of drums and is performed by the Kurubas.  Bhooth aradhane is done by the Tulu community.  Ummatt aat dance is performed by the Kodava women to revere Mother Kaveri and Bolakaat dance is done by the Kodava men during celebrations.  Kamsale, Veeragase during the months of Shravana and Karthika, Hulivesha, and Lavani are some of the other popular folk dances in Karnataka.  Bhamakalapam and Gollakalapam are important folk dances from the Andhra region in South India.  The Burra Katha is a dance drama performed in the villages in Andhra Pradesh narrating stories from Hindu mythology.

Folk Dances To Display Customs And Rituals

Folk dances in South India are not performed to win appreciation or laurels but to depict the customs and rituals of the beliefs of the people.  They are performed as a kind of prayer by the rural communities in India.  Learning these folk dances help to keep up the traditions and culture of the community.  It also helps the newer generation to understand the values that guided their ancestors in this ancient land.


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