​Folk Music and Dance in Rajasthan

The people of Rajasthan live life to the hit. After hard work in the harsh desert sun and the rocky terrain whenever they take time off they let themselves go in gay abandon. There is dancing, singing, drama, devotional music and puppet shows and other community festivities which transform the hardworking Rajasthani into a fun-loving and carefree individual. Each region has its own folk entertainment, the dance style differ as do the songs. Interestingly enough, even the musical instruments are different.

Of considerable significance are the devotional songs and the communities who render these songs. Professional performers like the Bhaats, Dholis, Mirasis, Nats, Bhopas and Bhands are omnipresent across the state. They are patronized by the villagers who participate actively in the shows put up by these travelling entertainers. Some of the better known forms of entertainment are:

Ghoomar Dance: This is basically a community dance for women and performed on auspicious occasions. Deriveed from the word ghoomna, pirouette, this is a very simple dance where the ladies move gently, gracefully in circles.

Gair Ghoomar: This is one of the many dance-forms of the Bhil tribals. Performed during Holi festival, this is among a few performances where both men and women dance together.

Gair: Another Holi dance but performed only by men. This becomes Dandia Gair in Jodhpur and Geenadad in Shekhawati.

Chari Dance: This is a popular in the Kishengarh region and involves dancing with a chari, or pot, on one’s head. A lighted lamp is then placed on the pot.

Kachi Ghodi : This is a dance performed on dummy horses. Men in elaborate costumes ride the equally well decorated dummy horses. Holding naked swords, these dancers move rhythmically to the beating of drums and fifes. A singer narrates the exploits of the Bavaria bandits of Shekhawati.

Fire Dance: The Jasnathis of Bikaner and Churu are renowned for their tantric powers and this dance is in keeping with their lifestyle. A large ground is prepared with live wood and charcoal where the Jasnathi men and boys jump on to the fire to the accompaniment of drum beats. The music gradually rises in tempo and reaches a crescendo, the dancers seem to be in a tracne like state.

Drum Dance: This is a professional dance-from Jalore. Five men with huge drums round their necks, some with huge cymbals accompany a dancer who hold a naked sword in his mouth and performs vigorously by twirling there painted sticks.

Teerah Taali: The Kamad community of Pokhran and Deedwana perform this dance in honour of their deity, Baba Ramdeoa A rather unusual performance where the men play a four-stringed instrument called a chau-tara and the women sit with dozens of manjeeras, or cymbals, tied on all over their bodies and strike them with the ones they hold in their hands. Sometimes, the women also hold a sword between their teeth or place pots with lighted lamps on their heads.

Kathputli: Puppet plays based on popular legends are performed by skilled puppeteers. Displaying his skil in making the puppets’ act and dance, the puppeteer is accompanied by a women, usually his wife, who plays the dholak, or drum and sings the balled.

Pabuji ki phad: A 14th century folk hero, Pabuji is revered by the Bhopa communit. The pahd, or scroll, which is about 10 meters long, highlights the life and heroic deed of Pabuji. The Bhopas are invited by villagers to perform in their areas during times of sickness and misfortune. The ballad’ is sung by the Bhopa as he plays the Ravan-hattha and he is joined by his wife who holds a lamp and illuminates the relevant portions at appropriate points.

Mand: Rajasthan’s most sophisticated style of folk music and has come a long way from the time it was only sung in royal courts, in praise of the Rajput rulers.

Professional singers still sing the haunting ballads of Moomal-Mahendra, Dhola-Maru and other legendary lovers and heroes.

List of singers and performers also includes the Mirasis and Jogis of Mewat, Manginiyars and Langas, Kanjaras, Banjaras and Dholies. Performances like the Kuchamani Khayal, Maach, Tamasha, Rammat, Nautanki and Raasleela are no less popular. The musical instruments of Rajasthan are simple but quite unusual. Handcrafted they are rather unique and include instruments like the Morchang, Naad, Sarangi, Kamayacha, Rawanhattha, Alogza, Khartal, Poongi, Bankia and Daf. There are dozens of other instruments which are exclusive to Rajasthan only.

It is a rather difficult task to list all the different types of music, dance and entertainment that can be found in Rajasthan. The range is mindboggling.


MCQ’s for practice  for RAS ( Pre ) 2016

1. Which artist associated with music was honoured with Rajasthan Ratna posthumously?

A. Khem Chand Prakash

B. Mohammed Rafi

C. Jagjit Singh

D. Bhupen Hazarika

2. Identify the incorrect pair relating the folk dances of Rajasthan with their area of prevalence :

A. Gindar Dance : Shekhawati

B. Dhol Dance : Jalor

C. Bamarasia Dance : Bikaner

D. Dandia Dance : Marwar

3. What is the name of the famous folk drama of Bhils?

A. Gavari

B. Swang

C. Tamasha

D. Rammat

4. Gopiji Bhatta is related with which folk drama style of Rajasthan?

A. Tamasha

B. Swang

C. Ram mat

D. Nautanki

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