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Dances in Himachal Pradesh

The pluralistic culture of Himachal Pradesh is also reflected in its different forms of dances, many of which are infused with tribal influences. The dance forms of these people are very complicated and have huge variations. The tribal people regard dance as an integral part of their life. No festivity in Himachal Pradesh is complete without dance. There are many different dance forms like Dev Nritya, Dulshol, Dharveshi, Rakshas Nritya, Mala dance and so on. Some of the important dances of Himachal Pradesh are discussed below:

Mala Dance
The mala dance i.e. the garland dance is the most famous and popular in the state. The natives call it the Kayang Mala Dance. The costumes used are traditionally made with fine material. The dancers move their arms in unison to form a criss-cross pattern, which make the dancers appear like beads of a garland. Before the dance, a traditional drink called chhang is given to the dancers, which is made up of rice brew. This adds more energy to the dancer, and hence the dance.

Dalshone and Cholamba Dances
In these forms of dance the dancers act like serpents. This dance traditionally belongs to the Ropa valley, but has become very popular throughout the Himachal valley. The Cholamba dance is performed in celebration of killing a tiger. The skin of the tiger is stuffed. The remains of the animal are then put on a wheel, like the wheel which is used by a potter, and the celebration begins with dancing.

The Nagas Kayang dance is a form of dance, in which the dancers perform by enacting the snake's movements. Herki Kayang is another important dance form of HImachal, which as faster rhythm than Nagas Kayang. It is performed on romantic occasions. As this form of dance needs youth, the performers are mostly young men and women.

The Rakshasa Dance
The Rakshasa dance i.e. the demon dance, is mostly performed by the Kinnaur community. The dance costume consists of demon masks. It reflects the age old culture of the demons attacking the crops of the village people and then the demons being defeated and chased away by the good forces. One form of the dance called Chhambha, and it shows great similarity to the traditional Punjabi dance of Bhangra. These dances are performed mostly by the people who stay in densely populated areas.

Shan and Shabu Dances
The Shan and Shabu are two of the most popular dance forms of Himachal Pradesh and are performed in the Lahaul valley. The dance is performed in the Buddhist temples called the Buddhist Gompas, as a tribute to the Buddha. Shan is a prayer for the Buddha. This is a form of tribal dance which is done after the harvesting of crops. Drums, shehnai and a type of stringed instrument are played along with this dance. Shabbo is another dance form of similar nature, which is performed only on festivals and occasions. The tribal people of the region pour out their hearts in these dances, as they are also a part of their belief system.

Apart from the fairs and festivals that are celebrated all around the country, there are a number of fairs and festivals that are singular to Himachal Pradesh. These festivals are the times when the Himachali people enjoy while doning colourful outfits and savouring special cuisines. They are integral parts of the culture of Himachal Pradesh.

Last Updated On: 2011/07/06

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