Music and dance are deeply ingrained and form an integral part in the life of Rajasthanis. The cool stillness of the desert after the searing heat of the day and the upsurge of life in the short-lived rainy season or spring are filled with soulful, full-throated music and rhythmic dance.
The haunting melody of Rajasthan evokes from a variety of delightfully primitive looking instruments. The stringed varieties include the Sarangi, Rawanhattha, Kamayacha, Morchang and Ektara. Percussion instruments come in all shapes and sizes from the huge Nagaras and Dhols to the tiny Damrus. The Daf and Chang are a big favourite of the Holi (the festival of colours) revellers. Flutes and bagpipers come in local flavours such as Shehnai, Poongi, Algoza, Tarpi, Been and Bankia.
Some prominent Folk dances:
Bhawai Dance: The Bhawais are professional dancers; their dances are very fast, energetic and imaginative. Women never participate in these performances.
Kalbelia Dance: The nomadic Jogi tribe, who are devotees of Lord Shiva and followers of
the Yoga system of philosophy, worship the Nag Deva (the Cobra). Men are traditional snake charmers. Women are dancers who perform a special symbolic dance, pretending to transform into a cobra whilst in a trance like state.
Chari or Pot Dance: The dancers carry brightly lit brass pots on their heads, executing many flexible movements of the body. It is a dance for gay occasions and requires a lot of patience & balance.
Dandiya Dance: This dance is performed during Holi, a colourful spring festival. Men and women perform separately or together, holding short wooden sticks in both the hands. The dance begins with a slow tempo of stick beats and speeds up gradually.
Gangaur Dance: This dance is performed by young girls and married ladies in the month of March to Goddess Parvati. The performers dress up in beautiful clothes and jewelry carrying brass pots filled with green grass, flowers and leaves on their heads.
Ghoomar Dance: The dancers, only women, dance in a ring or circle starting with slow music, the tempo increasing gradually. This is the most famous dance of Rajasthan.
Kachhi Ghodi: One of the most interesting dances where the dancer rides a dummy mare (Kachhi Ghodi). The dancer does the footwork with the beat of the drum.
Raas: Lord Krishna’s beautiful and symbolic dance with Gopis (milk maiden) is a delightful representation with deep philosophical meaning. This dance depicts – ‘Thus should man love God’.
Terah Taal (Thirteen Beats): This is a dance of professional expertise where the dancer performs with the help of hollow metallic discs (Manjeeras) tied on the hands, legs and foreheads – at thirteen different places. The performers, mostly ladies, start beating these manjeeras at thirteen different places in rhythms with the music.