India Cafe

Folk Dances of West Bengal

Folk Dances of West Bengal

  Priyanka Chakraborty

Folk Dances of West Bengal reflect the rich cultural heritage of the state. The different folk dances of this state are well-known for their fervour and beauty. Each and every region of West Bengal bears something distinct to exhibit. Dances are a part of tribal lifestyle. The most famous folk dance of West Bengal is the tribal dance known as Chhau Dance. Folk dances in this state were initially either devotional or agricultural. The major folk dances of Bengal have been described     below:   

Brita Dance 

Brita Dance is one of the folk dances of West Bengal. Brita Dance is also called Vrita Dance. It is mainly an invocation dance performed by women of Bengal, who are unable to give birth to children. Only women perform this dance, as a sign of bowing down before god, after they give birth to the children. Thus, they offer their thankfulness to God after their wishes are fulfilled. Quite often, this dance is also performed after a recovery from contagious diseases. 

Chhau Dance 

Another major folk dance performed in the state of West Bengal is the Chhau Dance. It is one of the famous tribal martial dances in India. The Chhau Dance is called `Mayurbhanj Chau` in the state of Orissa, `Seraikella Chau` in the state of Jharkhand and `Purulia Chhau` in the state of West Bengal. Since this form of folk dance is imagined to have its origin at thePurulia district in the state of West Bengal, it is thus known as Purulia Chhau in Bengal. This folk dance differs significantly from other Chhau dances practiced in different state. This dance is a mask dance which is performed only by the male dancers in Bengal. It is also a mythological dance, as it is mainly based on different episodes of the great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana.     

Gambhira Dance 

Gambhira Dance is one of Bengal`s folk dances which acquired a significant position in the culture of this state. But later, the agricultural dances were replaced by religious and devotional dance forms. Gambhira dance is an example of one of the most famous devotional folk dances of one of the famous devotional dances of Bengal. This folk dance is performed specially during Chadak festival in the month of March-April, and it is very much popular in North Bengal, especially in Malda district. It is a solo performance whereby the participant wears a mask while performing the same. 

Tusu Dance 

There are several folk dances which are celebrated during special festive seasons. One of them is the Tusu Dance of the Birbhum district which is performed in the Pausa month of Hindu calendar; during the months of December and January. Tusu is a tribal folk dance, which is performed by both men and women. It is popular in Purulia and Medinipur and performed during the harvest festival to celebrate the coming crop. 

Santhal Dance 

The most abundantly noticed Indian tribes are the Santhals. A large concentration of this tribe is also found in the Indian state of Jharkhand and West Bengal. The members of this tribe are mainly the devotees of the deity called `Thakurji`, whom, they believe, had formed this world. The Santhal tribe move with the tune of music in order to celebrate nature`s glory, offer prayers and raise a message. Thus, the dance performed by the people of this tribal community is known as Santhal dance.  

Lathi Dance 

Lathi Dance is another notable form of folk dance which has a very different art of expression. This dance is performed to express different situations like remorse, celebration, anger, pain or love. The move of the dancers of Lathi Dance defines clearly each and every expression in a beautiful way. This dance is performed in the first ten days of the Muslim festival of Muharram. This folk dance is a stick dance that is performed during Muharram season by groups, comprising mostly the youths. The Lathi dance is actually half a dance and half a kind of sport

Folk dances of West Bengal reflect the rich culture of the state. Different folk dances performed in different parts of the state and during different occasions form an environment of great festivity and entertainment. Apart from the various folk dances of the state, Rava dance is one of the famous folk dances of West Bengal which is performed in the state?s northern parts. This folk dance is performed by women belonging to Rava community. The Rava dance is rhythmic and colourful and it is executed with melodious music. The themes of this folk dance cover the chores, several festivals and daily life. ......

Photos courtesy :