exposition of stillness of the desert evening and the upsurge of life in
the short-lived rainy season or spring are filled with rhythmic dance
found in almost limitless variations in Rajasthan. The colourful people of
Rajasthan live life to the hilt. After hard work in the unrelenting, harsh
desert sun and the rocky terrain, they seek a respite from their
exhausting work by letting themselves enthrall in gay abandon. Their
evocative and soulful music provides the perfect accompaniment to their
vigorous and unsophisticated dancing.
Simple, spontaneous, dancing is seen in their fairs and festival in the kudakna of the meena boys, the dancing, which goes with the rasiya songs of Braj, and the dancing by women and men where the women carry a pot or a lighted lamp on their head. In the charkula dance of Braj, an elaborate lampstand replaces the single lamp. THE POPULAR DANCE FORMS
This is basically a community dance for women and performed on auspicious occasions. The famous ghoomar, Rajasthans popular dance gets its name from ghoomna, the graceful gyrating, which displays the spectacular colours of the flowing ghaghra, the long skirt of the Rajasthani women.
The gair of Mewar has inner and outer circles of dancers who move diagonally or loop in and out. It is intricate and fascinating. The gair of Jodhpur is performed in a single file and martial costumes are worn for effect. The geendad of Shekhawati is similar. Sticks or swords are often used in male dances, and the Shekhawati dance has the daf accompanying it.
THE KUCCHI GHODI
Free dancing full of zest, with rows of dancers waving colourful pennants makes the Bam Rasiya of the Braj region spectacular. It is performed at Holi. The Kucchhi Ghodi or horse dance is performed on festive occasions, by men who are as colourfully attired, as are their horses.
The terahtali is a fascinating dance performed by women, while sitting. The women have manjeeras (little brass discs) tied with long strings to their wrists, elbows, waists, arms and a pair in their hands as well. Their male accompanists sing and play the tandoora while the women, with dexterous and fine movements, create a strong rhythm with the manjeeras. For added effect, they may hold a sword between their teeth or balance pots or lighted lamps on their heads.
The dance of the kalbelia women is vigorous and graceful.
THE FIRE DANCE
An authentic fire dance is performed by the jasnathis of Bikaner and Churu districts. The accompanying music rises in tempo as the dance progresses, ending with the performer dancing on brightly glowing embers, which is a breathtaking and deeply impressive sight.
This is a professional dance-form from Jalore. Five men with huge drums around their necks, some with huge cymbals accompany a dancer who holds naked sword in his mouth and performs vigorously by twirling three painted sticks.
THE DANCING TRIBALS
Music and dance are such an essential part of tribal life that professional musicians and dancers are profuse. The garasia tribals inhabit the Abu Road and Pindwara tehsils of Sirohi district and the neighbouring territories of Kotra, Gogunda and Kherwara tehsils of Udaipur district; Bali and Desuri of Pali district. They have folklore enriched with folktales, proverbs, riddles and folk music.
Walar is an important dance of the garasias which is a prototype of the ghoomar dance. The beats of the mandal, chang and a variety of other instruments, which provide a lively rhythm to their dance sequences, generally accompany their dances.
The most famous bhil dance is the gowari, a dance drama. Troupes of these dancers go from village to village for a month, during which the nine functionaries follow a strict regimen. The main characters are Rai Buriya Shiva, his two Rais, and Katkuria, the comic handyman. Between the enactment of various episodes, the entire troupe dances around a central spot consecrated to a deity. A madal and a thali accompany the dance.
The ghoomar is the characteristic dance of bhils. Men and women sing alternately and move clockwise & anti-clockwise giving free and intended play to the ample folds of the ghagra.
The music of the primitive group of sahariyas (Sourias) of Shahbad, Kota, shows Central Indian links, with their songs speaking of Ram and Sita. The fairs of the Meenas had a lot of free dancing, which is unfortunately on the decline.
Vibrant, zealous, graceful, serpentine, lugubrious and martial, the dance and music of Rajasthan evoke the desert in all its moods. It is the most lilting tribute to the spectacular beauty, the pulsating sinuousness and the brutal harshness of the landscape, and to the hardiness and heroism of the people who live in this 'Land of the Kings'.