The state of Madhya Pradesh can be termed as a cultural museum of India. The place not only unifies many religions in its lap, but is also home to some of the most prominent tribal communities of the country. These tribal and aborigines of Madhya Pradesh have contributed to the rich cultural saga of the place, intrinsically blending their indigenous cultures to its large melting pot. In fact, the tribal culture in the state is the reason that we notice the incorporation of various folk dance forms to its troupe of traditional dances. Let us learn about some of the most important folk dances of Madhya Pradesh that add colorful feathers to its vibrant culture.
This indigenous folk dance belongs to the Gond and Oraon tribe of Madhya Pradesh. Considered as the oldest of all tribal dances in the state, it sees performance on the onset of the spring season. Gaily dressed tribal men and women perform this dance, especially around the trees scattered in the village. Musical instruments like thumki, payri, challa and jhumki accompany the various tribal songs.
People of the Bundelkhand region perform this dance, to celebrate prosperity. Originally, a peasant dance, Jawara follows the reaping of a good harvest. Men and women, in colorful costumes, dance and revel together, synchronizing their movements to a variety of musical instruments. While dancing, the women also balance baskets, full of jawara, on their head. It is a wonder to notice the poise of the women, while they maintain brisk dance movements of Jawara.
Tertali is a folk dance of the Kamar tribe in Madhya Pradesh. Generally, two or three women of the tribe sit on the ground and initiate the dance performance. Small metal cymbals called ‘Manjiras’ are tied to different parts of their body. They also carry a cymbal in each hand and strike them in rhythm. The head remains covered with a veil. Gnashing a small sword between their teeth and balancing a pot on their heads, they vigorously follow the beat of the dance.
Lehangi is a popular folk dance of the Banjara and Kanjar tribe of the Bhopal commissary of Madhya Pradesh and is performed during the blossoming monsoon period. The Banjara tribe also performs this dance form during the festival of Rakhi. Young men hold sticks in their hands and rhythmically beat them while dancing. Various acrobatic tricks, incorporated into the dance, lend a dramatic touch to the performances.
Ahiri Dance is a trademark of the cattle herders of Gwalior. The dance also has religious overtones, as the various communities of Gwalior who perform this dance, are considered to be the descendants of Lord Krishna. People belonging to the Ahir, Gwala, Rawat, Raut and Baredi communities generally perform Ahiri. The Ahir community is the most avid follower of this dance form and they perform Ahiri on all the major cultural and religious occasions.
Baredi or Yadav Dance
Baredi is an important folk dance of the Gwalior district. Staring from Diwali, the dance is performed till the day of ‘Karthik Purnima’. A host of musical instruments like dholak, jhanz, manjira, mridang and daphli imparts the tribal beat as the dancers perform and move around in circles. Folk songs are also sung that follows a question and answer format. The performers are clad in dhotis and accessorized with peacock feathers.