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Dances of Gujarat

Gujarat is one of the few states that have been successful in preserving its traditional dances and folk culture. There are many traditional dances that Gujarat boasts of but among them Ras and Garba are the best known around the country. Most of these traditional folk dances trace their roots back to the nebulous web of mythology. Dances of Gujarat exude undiluted exuberance and energy, and are most fascinating to watch when seen in their full flavour and vigour.

The following is a peek into some of the famous dance forms of Gujarat.

  • Garba: Garba is the traditional dance form of Gujarat, which is performed during the Navaratri celebrations.The traditional garbas are performed around an earthenware lamp or an image of the Goddess Amba. The lamp or the image is placed in the middle, and beautifully and traditionally dressed ladies move around it in circles, clapping their hands on the beats and singing devotional songs. The dancers sway gracefully and bend sideways at every step.

  • Ras: The Ras is traditionally performed by the men and the Garba is traditionally played by the women. The Ras is considered as a form of the Ras Leela, which Lord Krishna used to perform at Gokul and Vridanvan. Lord Krishna is credited with making the dance very popular. The Ras is generally performed by a group of youths who move in specific steps in a circle, accompanied by a chorus of singing and a large host of musical instruments. These musical instruments include dhol, cymbals, zanz, and flute. The costume that is traditionally used for this type of folk dance consists of a small coat called kedia. It is very neatly and highly embroidered at the borders. There are also the tight trousers which are artistically embroidered. The dancing costume becomes complete with an embroidered cap or a colourful turban that goes with the waistband.

  • Ras Dandiya: This dance may not have a very long and profound history or tradition, but it boasts of huge popularity during the recent years. Also known as the 'dance with the sticks', it is also performed during the festival of Navaratri. Here both men and women come together to make a dance circle, holding small polished colourful sticks called dandiyas. The men and women dance together and swirl to the sweet music and the rhythm of the dance; men and women strike the dandiyas together, making it a rather sensuous atmosphere. The Ras dancers are basically the Kathiawari dancers who hail from the northern Gujarati region of Saurashtra.

For the tourists visiting India, missing these folk dances of Gujarat during the festival of Navaratri would be a great loss. The tourists cannot understand the dance culture of India if they miss some of these most celebrated dance forms of Gujarat.

Last Updated On: 2011/07/04