Uttar Pradesh is one of the most divine and holy lands of cultural as well as religious importance. Home to the 7th wonder of the world Taj Mahal, the spiritual centre of the world Varanasi, the centre stage for the holy Kumbh Mela and numerous other wonders. The entire state is rich in remnants of the past and heritage that can be observed through the people’s way of life, festivals, celebrations and language. The entertainment industry of UP has been a major contribution towards shaping, not only the history, but the present and future of India as well. Here are the major folk dances of Uttar Pradesh:
List of the 12 Folk Dance of Uttar Pradesh
1. Raslila Dance
The Indian folk dance of Raas Leela or the dance of love originated from the holy land of Krishna in Mathura and Vrindavan. This ancient dance is so old that it’s also been mentioned in the holy book of Bhagavad Gita. Raas Lila has a deep religious meaning which has now been immortalised as a folklore. People of all ages can take part in the dance where the boys play lord Krishna and young girls play gopis. It has some hints of Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Manipuri as well. Enacted primarily in Holi, the dancers perform it in a dramatic form that tells a story. Men wear traditional yellow dhoti and women wear Ghagra Choli and adorn themselves in Ornaments.
2. Ramlila Dance
Ramlila is one of the most famous dramatic folk dances of UP. The name itself tells us what this dance is all about which means that it is a re-enactment of the life of lord Ram as depicted in the ancient Hindu epic of Ramayan. The term ‘ram’ refers to lord Ram and ‘Lila’ refers to a play or game and when put together it translates into a playful drama about lord ram. The dance is one of the most looked forward performances for the annual autumn festival of Navratri. According to traditions that have been long followed over the years, post the Ram Leela performance, giant effigies of Ravana are burned with fireworks.
3. Khyal Dance
Being one of the largest states in India, UP has served as a home to numerous communities and tribes over the years. The famous Khyal Dance of UP can be traced to the local communities of UP where newer forms of the Khyal Dance have developed like Jaipuri Khayal, Abhinaya Khyal, Ali Bakshi Khyal etc. the Khyal performances are highly dramatised play-dance form that tells the audience tales about the sentiments, bravery and romance depicted from the puranas. The dance portrays these instances through highly detailed and intricate dancing patterns. A major part of the dance is that it starts off by offering prayer to the presiding deity making the environment even more stimulating.
4. Nautanki Dance
The Nautanki Dance form is one of the most interesting and entertaining dance forms in not just UP but all across South East Asia as well. It is one of the most popular dance forms that is presented in a drama form. Prior to the advent of the Bollywood industry, Nautanki was one of the most major sources of entertainment for everyone. It involves rich musical compositions with engaging lyrics and humorous or entertaining story lines. The dance is presented in an entertaining story line format with the combination of elaborate acting and dancing. This dance has many themes ranging from patriotic to day to day social problems, in short this dance is a whole package.
5. Naqaal Dance
The folk dances of UP are more entertaining and engaging as compared to other dances of India, which are more religious and spiritually based. This Indian folk dance is the art of imitation that is clear through its name, where Naqal or Nakal means imitating someone’s actions and behaviours. The dancers try to imitate life in a manner that incites huge laughs and praises from the audience. The Naka artists best showcase their art through crisp, quick-witted and often hilarious banter. Influenced by the stories of the Middle East, Nakal Dance is done by a large group of dancers who travel in groups and perform this dance everywhere they go.
6. Swang Dance
Swang or Saang Dance means initiation, which is one of the most popular folk dance and theatre forms that is performed majorly in Rajasthan, Haryana, UP and parts of Madhya Pradesh. The dance incorporates mimicry and suitable theatrics which is accompanied with the background of dialogues and songs. Unlike other folk dances, Saang Dance is more dialogue and theatrics oriented rather than being movement oriented. The group of dancers involved in the dance tells us religious and folk tales often done by 12 to 14 people. One can compare this dance form to an opera performance and is rather a captivating one as well.
7. Charkula Dance
Originating from the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, Charkula is a unique folk dance which is specially performed on the 3rd day after Holi. Primarily performed by the women of UP, in this dance women can be seen wearing their colourful and impeccably vibrant traditional clothing while balancing a large multi-tiered circular wooden pyramid on their heads which is sometimes decorated with lit diyas. The dance form is only dedicated to Lord Krishna since every aspect of the Braj region is associated with lord Krishna. The dance is symbolic of happiness and joy.
8. Chhapeli Dance
Chhapeli’s origin can be originally traced back to the current state of Uttarakhand which was previously a part of UP and collectively they were known as Uttaranchal. Emerging from the tribes of UP, Chhapeli is mainly performed by the young men and women couples who are in love and wish to take their love and bond to the next step. As per traditions, it is believed that couples who perform this dance successfully strengthen their relationships and enhance the loving bond between them. As a part of the dance women can be seen carrying a mirror in one hand while men carry the hadukka musical instrument on their left Shoulder.
9. Dhurang Dance
Bhotiyas are a prominent tribal population in Uttar Pradesh and are also famous for being one of the oldest tribes of the state. Over the years this tribal population has managed to preserve and retain their culture through this dance. The dance is performed as a part of the death rites and rituals associated with someone’s demise. Performing this dance is believed to transfer the departed soul in the body of a goat or a sheep. The dance helps relieve the soul from the earthly realm in a smooth manner.
10. Rai and Shaira Dance
Rai and shaira is one of the most prominent dance forms of Uttar Pradesh. Performed by the Bedia community of the Bundelkhand region, the dance is extremely rich in folklore. The dance is an intrinsic part of its incredible heritage and has managed to stand the test of time. The roots of this dance can also be traced back to the eastern parts of Nepal. The dance aims at telling a story where female dancers wear elaborate, vibrant, colourful traditional veiled attire. The movements are simple and very basic since the main intention of the dance is to tell a story. It involves hip movements, dips, whirling of the Ghagras and other such interesting elements.
11. Kajri Dance
Performed just prior to the onset of the monsoon season, Kajri Dance is an elaborate expression of deep happiness and joy. Originating from Mirzapur, The Kajari Dance is accompanied with Kajri song whose history is rooted in the mythical past. The term Kajri is derived from the Hindi term Kajra or kohl which is a genre of semi-classical singing. This season’s dance is performed as a gesture of relief to the oncoming rains after the sweltering hot summer days. The dance steps and movements are extremely graceful in nature and done with immaculate perfection.
12. Kathak Dance
Kathak forms one of the eight major pillars of Indian classical dance originating in Uttar Pradesh. Traditionally the dance is attributed to the travelling bards of ancient North India. The term Kathak is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit term called Katha or a story. These wandering storytellers or Kathakars communicated stories from the great epics such as Mahabharata and ancient mythology through various forms of dance, singing and music. The dance is composed of extensive footwork and intricate hand movements. Flexibility and facial expressions also play a major role in this traditional folk dance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What Are The Famous Tourist Attractions Of Uttar Pradesh?
Ans. Some of the major tourist attractions in UP are: Varanasi, Agra, Allahabad, Lucknow, Ayodhya etc.
Q. When Is The Best Time To Visit Up?
Ans. October to March is the best time to visit UP.
Q. Which Languages Are Majorly Spoken In Uttar Pradesh?
Ans. Hindi and Urdu are two of the main languages spoken in UP.
Q. How Many International Airports Are There In Up?
Ans. There are 3 main international airports in UP that are situated in Lucknow, Varanasi and Kushinagar.
Q. Are There Any Hill Stations In Up?
Ans. No. there are limited hill stations in UP but its neighbour hill state of Uttarakhand is a delight for hills lover.