Folk Dances of Madhya Pradesh


Folk Dances of Madhya Pradesh

The state of Madhya Pradesh can be termed as a cultural museum of India. The place not only unities many religions in its lap, But is also home to some of the most prominent tribal communities of the country. These tribal and aborigines of Madhya Pradesh have contributed to the rich culture saga of the place; intrinsically blending their indigenous cultures taints large netting pot. In fact the tribal culture in the state is the reason that we notice the incorporation of various folk dance forms to its troupe of traditional dances let us learn about some of the most important folk dances of Madhya Pradesh that add colourful to its vibrant culture.

JawaraFolk Dances of Madhya Pradesh

People of the Bundelkhand region perform this dance to celebrate prosperity. Originally a pleasant dance Jawara follows the reaping of a costumes, dance and revel together, synchronizing their movement to a variety of musical instruments while dancing the women also balance baskets, full of Jawara on their head. It is a wonder to notices the poise of the women, while they maintain brisk dance movements of Jawara.


Tertati is a folk dance of the Kamar in Madhya Pradesh generally, two or three women of the tribe sit on the ground and initiate the dance performance. Small metal cymbal called ‘Mangiras’ are tried to different parts at their body. They also carry a cymbal in each hand and strike them in rhythm. The head remains covered with a veil. Gnashing a small sword between their teeth and balancing a pot on their heads, they vigorously bellow the boat of the dance.


Lehangi is a folk dance of the Banjara and Kanjar tribe of the Bhopaf commissary of Madhya Pradesh and is performed during the blossoming monsoon period. The Banjara tribe aiso performs this dance from during the festival of “Rakhi”. Young men hold sticks in their hands and rhythmically beat them while dancing various acrobatic tricks incorporated into the dance, lend a dramatic touch to the performances.


Akiri dance is a trademark of the cattle herders of Gwalior.The dance also has religious overtones as the various communities of Gwalior who performed this dance are considered to be the descendants of lord Krishna. People belonging to the Ahir, Gwala, Rawat, Beat and Baredi communities generally perform Ahiri.TheAhiri community is the most avid follower of this cultural and religious occasions. Baredi or Yadav Dance Baredi is an important folk dance of the Gwalior District. Staring from Diwali the dance is performed till the day of “KartikPurnima” A host of musical instruments like dholak, Jhang, Manjiramridang and daphil imparts the tribal beat as the dancers perform and move around in.circles. Folk songs are also sang that follows a question and answer format. The performers are clad in dhatis and accessorized with peacock feathers.

Gaur Dance

The most popular among the Madhya Pradesh dances, is the Gaur dance of the Sing Marias orTallaguda Marias (bison-horn Marias) of South Bastar. This spectacular dance symbolizes the hunting spirit of the tribe. The word ‘Gaur* means a ferocious bison. The invitation for a. dance is given by sounding a bamboo trumpet or a horn. Wearing headdresses frilled with stringed ‘cowries’ and plumes of peacock feathers fastened to them the men folk with flutes and drums make their way to the dancing ground. Women adorned with brass fillets and bead necklaces over their tattooed bodies soon join the assemblage. They carry dancing sticks called Tirududi in their right hands and tap them to conform with the drum-beats. They dance in their own groups by the side of the male members. But they also take the liberty to cross and re-cross in between the groups of male dancers and drummers. Their jingling anklets correspond to the songs of their lips as they move. The men beat the drums, tossing the horns and feathers of their headgears to the rising tempo that gives the dance a wilder touch.
The men with drums usually move in a circle and create a variety of dancing patterns when they are spirited. In the bison dance (Gaur) they attack one another and chase the female dancers. The Marias imitate a number of bison movements. Most of them perform like frisky bulls, hurling wisps of grass into air, charging and tossing horns.

Muria Dances

The Murias are trained in the Ghotui for all types of their community dances. Before any dance is commenced at a wedding or a festive occasion, the Murias first worship their drums. Very often they begin with an invocation to ‘Lingo Pen’, the phallic deity of the tribe and the founder of the GhotuI institution. To a Muria, Lingo Pen was the first musician who taught the art of drumming to the tribal boys.
The dancing site is chosen near the GhotuI compound. On marriage celebrations, the Muria boys and girls perform a dance called HarEndanna. The dance commences with a group of boys carrying ritualistic offerings and gifts and conducting the bridegroom to the ceremonial place. In this light and happy dance, there are a variety of movements with the boy and the girl dancers and drummers participating to move in patterns with running steps and circles then changing directions, kneeling, bending and jumping. The movements of the drummers as they dance and manipulate their drums is fascinating.

Their Hulki is the loveliest of all the dances. The Karsana is performed for sheer fun and enjoyment. Both the dance-forms are quick and rich with many rhythmic nuances. In the Hulki, boys move in a ring while the girls tread way through them. These forms are more favourite with the performing groups when they go to another village to attend wedding celebrations or else visit some fair. Their Pus Kolang expedition occurs in the month of February. During hot weather the boys and the girls meet in Chhat’Dadar expedition. Many of the dances associated to these visits are stick-dances.

Saila dance

Young boys of the plains of Chhattisgarh bring life to the post-harvest time by the Saila dance. Saila is a stick-dance and is popular among the people of Sarguja, Chhindwara and Baitui districts. But in these places, Saila is known by DandaNach or Dandar Pate. The Saila often comes out with many variations and much buffoonery. Sometimes the dancers form a circle, each standing on one leg and supporting himself by holding on to the man in front. Then they all hop together round and round Sometimes they fa pair off, or go round in a single or double line, occasionally, climbing on each other’s back. The climax of a day’s Saila, is the great Snake Dance. The Saila songs, of which the refrain is the monotonous Nanarenana are usually of a progressive character leading to a highly vulgar conclusion.

Saila comprises over half a dozen varieties. Some of them are named as the BaithikiSaila, the ArtariSaila, the ThadiSaila, the ChamkaKundaSaila, the ChakramarSaila (lizard’s dance) and the ShikariSaila. Each variation has a certain theme and distinctive feature of its own. Saila’s simple form is the Dasera dance which is always performed by the Baigas before Diwali. Some of the post-harvest dances reach the climax towards the festivities of Diwali.The Diwali dances of the Ahirs and Rawats of Bilaspur and Ralpur districts of the state have enough of vital appeal. Wearing tight-fitting shirts, studded withghungrus or tiny bells and armlets of ghungurs,theAhir dancers vigorously perform the Danda dance. .

Karma dance

Among the Gonds and the Baigas of Chhattisgarh and the Oraons of the north-west fringes of Madhya Pradesh, the Karma dance is very common. This form is associated with the fertility cult and essentially I related to the Karma festival that falls in the month of August. The Karma dance symbolizes the bringing of green branches of the forest in the spring. Sometimes a tree is actually set Up in the village and people dance round it. The dance is filled with breath of trees. The men leap forward to a rapid roll of drums. Bending low to the ground the women dance, their feet moving in perfect rhythm to and fro, until the group of singers advances towards them.

The Majhwars of Sarguja districts dance the Karma towards the beginning and the end of the rainy season. The Gonds and the Baigas of Mandla and Bilaspur districts dance it at any time they wish. The Baigas, the Jhumies, the Kanwars and the Gonds of Baghelkhand area perform this dance to the accompaniment of theThumki, the Payri, the Chhaila and the Jhumki instruments. The Sirki, the Ghatwar, the Jhumar. tHeEktaria, the Pendehar, the Dohoari, theTegwani and the Lahaki are some of the sub-varieties of the Karma dance.
There are other variants of the Karma! The songs associated with these variants differ with each pattern.TheThadi, the Lahaki, the Khalha, the Jhumar and the Jharpat are the variations of BaigaAdivasisdance.The Karma seems to have been the oldest dance form of the Adivasis of Madhya Pradesh, it is the only dance which is common to the many ethnic groups of India.

Some of the variants of the karma dance are as follows-

  • Jhumar
  • Ghatwar
  • Ektaria
  • Pendehar
  • Dohoari
  • Lahaki
  • Tegwani
  • Thadi
  • Lahaki
  • Khalna
  • Jharpat
  • Jhumar

The Attire:

The attire of the men is very gorgeous in nature. They wear turbans which are adorned with peacock feather stem coronets and a closely fitted Saluka or Blouse down the waist. They also wear dhotis, the ends of which hang loosely. Silver, gold coin and colourful coral necklaces adorn their necks. They sport silver bangles on their hands and boat shaped ornaments made of brass or iron in their feet. The dancers hold a staff in their right hand.



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