Uttarakhand is not only known for its geographical beauty but also for it diverse cultural traditions all over India. The culture here is a confluence of amazing rapport between the public mind and nature, which is not seen anywhere else.
This region, blessed with divine places and nature heritage, has preserved its folk culture with decency. Various colors of folk culture go scattered in all the four directions in the festivals and religious ceremonies here. The folk instruments, folk songs, folk singing style, folk dances, paintings or crafts are so rich that the amount of research done on this will be less. Like the folk songs here, there is an amazing variety in the folk dances. Some of the famous folk dance festivals of Uttarakhand are as follows.
Choliya dance is a famous folk dance of Uttarakhand. This dance is a reflection of mythological warfare and soldiers. The Choliya dance presents the scene of post-war celebrations. All dance artists disguise mythical soldiers and perform battle with sword and shield. With the melodious rhythms of various folk instruments, dhol, damau, ransing, trumpet and mushebeen, the Choliya dance brings excitement to the masses. Choliya dance is organized every year in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand.
Jhumelo dance expresses the anguish and love of the female heart. The meaning of the word Jhumelo seems to be related to “Jhoom Lo”. In this dance the woman forgets her pain and dances with folk songs and musical rhythms with positive thinking. Jhumelo seems to be a wonderful confluence of rhythmic folk dances, makeup and disconnection. This folk dance is very famous in both Garhwal and Kunmaon regions of Uttarakhand.
Pandavart / Pandava Leela
This dance is dedicated to the Pandavas which is based on the events of Mahabharata. It can be of 5 to 6 days in which there are many characters, the dance is done on the themes of Mahabharata like Chakravyuh, Lotus array, Gandy-rhinoceros slaughter etc.
This is a spirited dance of Garhwal wherein men have to climb a straight pole to reach the peak and perform belly dancing by resorting to the belly, or make the dance of drums and dummies even more interesting. It is quite famous in Tehri district of Uttarakhand.
Chanchari is the dance style of Danpur region in Kumaon. Chanchari is considered to be an ancient form of Jhoda. It also includes both men and women. It is a dance song of Kumaon. Its main attraction is the colorful costumes and variety. Religious feeling prevails in this dance.
Chhapeli, also known as ‘Chhabili’ is a dance of Kumaon which is considered as the dance of two lovers. In this, sometimes a man acts as a woman wearing a woman’s costume. The man has a whirl in his hand, which he dances and sings while playing, in return the woman expresses him with blush and expression.
“Tandi” is a popular dance of Uttarakhand. In this dance, all the people dance in a series holding each other’s hands. Tandi dances and songs are seen and heard in remote hill areas. Tandi dance songs refer to immediate events, works of celebrities.
The dance of joy and gaiety Chaunfula holds a special place in the minds of all the people of Uttarakhand. The word for Chunfula is related to the cheerful public mood. It is said that Goddess Parvati used to dance in the floral covered plains of the Himalayas with her friends, this is why Chaunfula originated. In this dance, the male and female joined the circular, standing opposite to each other and dancing. The people dancing and sitting around perform the music in applause. The beautiful and adorned fawn attracts every class towards itself.
This dance by its name is popular for couples. In this, the men and women make circular circles and place their hands on each other’s shoulders and move back and forth and dance and sing songs. In the midst of the ring, the lead singer, Hudaka, sings the first rhyme of the song and others sing it in rhythm. It is also used among women and men in their respective groups. It is very famous in the Bageshwar region of Kumaon, which is considered to be a man-made dance performed in the moonlight night of Magha.
The word “Thad” means “courtyard”, that is, the music and dance festival held in the courtyard of the house is called Thadiya. Thadiya Utsav is organized in the courtyard of village houses during Basant Panchami. The nights are long at the time of spring, so the villagers together organize Thadiya for entertainment. Mandana and Thadiya are different from each other, therefore, because in Thadiya dance, all the members of the village take responsibility of singing and dancing but in Mandana there are special people who sing songs and perform musical instruments which are called “Auji”, The rest of the people dance together. All the daughters of the village who are married are invited to the village. The villagers enjoy Kadam Milla dance with beautiful songs and rhythms.
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