The Culture of Uttarakhand has its roots in past. Among the diverse cultures and traditions of India it is one of the unique culture which can be seen prominently in its various forms of art. Uttarakhand folk dance is not as complex as the classical dance forms but is something which is beautiful to witness. Its a reflection of the deep sited beliefs and traditions of the local people which is performed to express joy & celebrate the arrival of new season.
Barada Nati, Bhotiya Dance, Chancheri, Chhapeli, Choliya Dance, Jagars, Jhora, Langvir Dance, Langvir Nritya, Pandav Nritya, Ramola, Shotiya Tribal Folk Dances, Thali-Jadda and Jhainta are some of the folk dances performed in various occasions in Uttarakhand.
The Barada Nati folk dance is a popular dance of the Jaunsar Bhawar area of Chakrata Tehsil in Dehradun district. The folk dance is performed on the eve of some religious festivals or on the occasion of some social functions. Both boys and girls take part in the dance dressed in colourful traditional costumes.
This is a group dance of Danpur Patti region of Bageshwar District in Kumaon. Both men and women dance in a semi-circular formation with gradually increasing pace putting across unbridled joy.
Chhapeli dance is performed by couples with the female carrying a mirror in her left hand and a colored handkerchief in the other. The male plays a Hudukka on his left shoulder accompanied by others playing the Hurka, Manjira and Flute. The dance is a duet that outlines the joys of romance. The woman partner (sometimes also a young boy) dances with a smile and elegant waist movements, either in admiration of her beauty and charm or mocking her ways of expressing love.
Dating back to over a thousand years, the Chholiya Dance has its origins in the warring Khasiya Kingdom of Khasdesh, when marriages were performed at the point of the swords. They were united by the Chand kings who arrived' on the scene in the 10th century. In Nepal, the word Khasa is still asynonym for Kashatrya, and in Khasdesh, too, they took on the customs of the Rajputs, who were themselves honorary Kshatryas.
Keeping the old tradition alive, the Rajputs dance this at their weddings as a part of the marriage procession itself, led by the male dancers who go on dancing till they reach the bride's house. Performed by the Rajputs with sword and shield in pairs, the drummers are usually Harijans called Dholies, while the Turi and Ransing are played by Bairagis, Jogis or Gosains. The Turi and Ransing are typical Kumaon instruments. Perfectly synchronized, and marked with jumps and turns of the body, the dancers show several sword-fighting feats. Attired in the material costumes of ancient warriors, the flashing swords and shields, along with the war-like music, huge red flag with various animal symbols stuck on it conveys fear, joy, awe and wonder, through eyes, eyebrows and shoulders, creating at the same time, the impression of group advancing for an attack.
Jaggar falls in the category of ghost and spiritual worship, in the form of a folk song or at times combined with dances. Sometimes, Jaggar may also be in the form of Puja folk songs and are sung in .honour of the various gods and goddesses.
A community dance, when all barriers of castes are thrown to the winds, except in the village, where the high and lower castes have separate Jhoras, it is danced at fairs to the accompaniment, of singing that grows with the dance.
Performed either in the morning or evening, they are danced at the coming of spring, mostly at fairs, but also to celebrate weddings. From the minimum, number, six, it swells to 200 at times, men and women both joining in. Together they move in a circle, holding each other's arms and slight1y bending their bodies forward as they move. On the first beat of the Hurka, the left leg crosses the right, striking the floor with the left foot. On the second beat, the right foot is thrown sideways with a slight jump and little dip and the performers return to their original standing pose, with the bodies swaying slightly to the back. The third and fourth steps are given to the left and right foot respectively. Each step is taken with a slight jump and the accompanying neck and shoulder movements. This completes one cycle. If the circle is big the Hurka players, accompanied by the cymbals and, flute dance inside the circle, singing and playing simultaneously, rending the air joyous with exhilaration. The men and women dancers, themselves provide the singing following the lead of the Hurka player-the women follow the men-the tempo remains the same neither very fast nor very slow.
This is an acrobatic dance and is performed by the men folk only. In this dance, a long bamboo pole is fixed at a place. The dancer-acrobat climbs to the top of this pole and then balances himself on his stomach on the top. Under the pole, a band of musicians play the 'Dhol' and 'Damana', while the dancer rotates on the top of the pole, performing other feats with his hands and feet. This dance is popular in the Tehri Garhwal region.
The Pandav Nritya, which is related to the story of the Mahabharata, has been very popular, particularly in the Garhwal region. Pandavas Nritya is nothing but a simple narration of the story of the Mahabharata in the form of dance and music. It is mostly enacted on the occasion of 'Dussehra' and Diwali. Pandavas Nritya is popular in Chamoli district and Pauri Garhwal.