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Tribal Pride

Kalanjali: an offering of art at Kartavya Path

November 26, 2022 to November 27, 2022

India is a land of bewildering diversity. People of diverse faiths and religions bind together in a great melting pot to form one colourful mosaic. The colourful fairs and festivals of India owe their allegiance to religious or historical events or to the change of seasons. Every celebration revolves around the rituals of prayers, seeking blessings, exchanging goodwill, decorating houses, wearing new clothes, music, dance and feasting. They reflect the vigour of the lifestyle of its people. Vibrant colours, music, and festivities make the country come alive throughout the year.

Tribal dances are performed by tribal people based on their customs and beliefs. Our country boasts a vast tribal population belonging to diverse races and cultures. The majority of this population inhabits forests and hilly regions. Each of these tribes is marked by its own culture, different from others. It not only varies in their socio-economic life but also in religious ceremonies.

The most important aspect of tribal culture is music and dance. Among certain tribes, young men cannot find brides unless they acquire special skills in dance and music. Dance and music are primarily meant to propitiate gods and goddesses. In social functions like marriage and feasting, dance is performed in a central place of the village or in the communal house and attended by almost all the tribesmen. Each tribe has its own pattern of dance and music.

Tribes of the northern part of India stretched over the Himalayas, are nomadic shepherds, and also practice a form of primitive cultivation which is reflected in their dances. Mongolian tribes of the northeast, the tribes from the dense forests of Bastar and Chotanagpur, and the tribes from South India have a common dance form based on their daily activities of hunting, fishing, food gathering, and animal husbandry.

In the dances of plains and the thickly wooded plateau, one can see the exuberance and the gaiety of the tribal way of life. The Gonds and Marias of Bastar, Oraons, and Santhals of Chotanagpur all have a rich heritage of community dancing.

Tribal and folk dances today provide the thread of continuity between the distant past and the present.

The dance forms that will be showcased over the two days are as follows:

Sambalpuri (Odisha)

Sambalpur has a distinct cultural identity of its own. Sambalpuri folk dance owes its origin to the western part of Odisha. This dance is usually performed during festivals such as Dusshera. The most exciting and popular presentation is ‘Dalkhai’. Scintillating movements of feet, punctuated with teaming pauses, are its striking feature. The dance derives its name from the presiding deity of ‘Samalai’. The singing and performance of this form include the typical touch of tribal and rural cultures. 

Gaur Maria (Chhattisgarh)

The Gaur Maria dance is performed on the plateau of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. It is performed on the occasion of marriage and it is believed that it is performed with more joy than other dances.  Gaur dance is popular with the Sing Marias or Tallaguda Marias of South Bastar.

Saharia Swang (Rajasthan)

The Saharia tribal community belongs to Shahabad in Rajasthan. The dance is mainly performed during the month of Holi. The dancers travel from one village to another performing the Swang. Usually, the Swang features male dancers with one male member dressed in a female costume. The performers decorate their bodies with colourful paint and cover their heads with leaves. Holi Swang is performed during the entire month of Phagun. The dance is performed on the beat of dhol, nagara, and matki. 

Rathwa (Gujarat)

The Rathwas, who dwell in Rath-Vistar, the hilly and forested area of the south-eastern part of Gujarat state, perform the Rathwa ni Gher dance on the occasion of Holi.  The festival of Holi is also known as the Kavant festival, named after the place where the Holi carnival takes place. They are mainly distributed in the Chhota Udaipur, Jabugam, and Nasvadi talukas of the Vadodara district and also in Halol, Kalol, and Baria talukas of the Panchmahal district. The Rathwas are an Adivasi caste of Gujarat.

Dhimsa (Andhra Pradesh)

Dhimsa originated in Koraput district in the Odisha but has almost become an official dance of Visakhapatnam. Dhimsa means "sound of the footsteps". Dhimsa is particularly popular in places near Araku Valley and Borra Caves. It is generally performed as a diversion by the workers during their working hours. Each dance movement is a mirror of their daily activities like picking leaves or plants, farming activities, traditional culture during matrimonial alliances, protecting themselves from wildlife, etc.

Balti Dance (Ladakh)

The Balti Dance is performed by the Muslim communities of Kargil and Turtuk. Balti Dance is unique with its own attire and music, accompanied by songs in the Balti language. It’s performed on special occasions like festivals or ceremonies. Some of its variants are reserved only for religious occasions to pay homage to their lords and messiahs.

Hojagiri (Tripura)

Hojagiri is a folk dance, performed in Tripura,  by people of the Reang tribe. It is performed by women and young girls, about 4 to 6 members in a team, singing, balancing on an earthen pitcher on which they stand, and managing other props such as a bottle on the head with a lighted earthen lamp on it. The movement of the upper part of the body is restricted while only the lower half of the body is moved rhythmically. The dance is performed on the occasion of the Hojagiri festival or Laxmi Puja, held on the full moon night, just after Durga Puja. Goddess Mailuma (Laxmi) is worshipped on this day.

Dhambali (Jammu and Kashmir)

Dhambali is a centuries-old popular folk dance of Kashmir valley.  Since a few decades back it was considered one of the most popular dances of Kashmir and was performed at several cultural and social events in the valley villages. This art is now only performed on certain special occasions of a few Sufi saints.  The community of performers is called ‘Bhands’ or ‘Dhambali Faqirs’.  At one time the Dhambali Faqirs were treated as esteemed artists. It is said that the tradition of Dhambali dance has actually evolved from the famous tomb of   Moulana Rumi which is situated in the town of Konya in Turkey

Kinnauri Nati (Himachal Pradesh)

The word Nati is used for the traditional folk songs sung in the Western and Central Hills of the Indian subcontinent. It is primarily native to the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. There are several varieties of Nati performed like Kullvi Nati, Mahasuvi Nati, Sirmauri Nati, Kinnauri Nati, Jaunpuri Nati, Seraji Nati, Karsogi Nati, Chuhari Nati, Barada Nati, and Bangani Nati. Kinnauri Nati is a folk dance that originated in Himachal Pradesh. This dance is closely related to nature. The dance is not just a celebration of the New Year but also a celebration of a rich harvest.

Bordoishikla (Assam)

The Bordoishikla dance is a very special folk art form of the Bodo community of Assam. In the Bodo language, Bor refers to a strong wind, Doi is water and Shikla is a young girl who is as beautiful as a celestial goddess. Poets and writers have woven many legends around the arrival of the sudden evening storms at the end of spring, at the beginning of the Indian month of Chaitra. The storm is imagined to be the beautiful young girl, who has spent her childhood playing in the hills of Assam.

Dhangiri Gaja (Maharashtra)

Dhangari Gaja is one of Maharashtra's most colorful traditional folk dances. The shepherds, cowherds, buffalo keepers, and blanket weavers of Maharashtra's Sholapur district perform this dance. Shepherds and men who work in the fields are known as Dhangars in the local dialect.

Baiga Pardhoni (Madhya Pradesh)

 The Baiga Pardhoni dance is performed by the Baiga tribals on the occasion of marriages, as a dance of joy and happiness. The word Baiga means sorcerer and this community belongs to the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).