Garba Raas Dance

Gujarat, during the 9th century, was divided into four regions-Saurashtra, Kachchh, Aanarta and Laat (south Gujarat). Raas, Garba, Hudo, Tippani are the dance forms of Saurashtra, while Dangi of Dharampur and Holi Nritya from Kawant are attributed to Laat. Garba, Garbi and Bhavai are the dances from Aanarta (north Gujarat), while Siddi Dhamal, Matukadi, Ged-do are original dances of Kachchh.

Garba Dance: Garba Dance is a popular folk Dance of Gujarat. A graceful, rather unique dance associated with the raas lila of Krishna and the gopis (female cowherds). It is believed that Lord Krishna popularized the Ras dance, Usha, the grand daughter-in-law of Lord Krishna gets the credit for popularizing the Lasya Nritya, which came to be known as Garba Dance. This dance is performed by ladies on the Navaratri days, Sharad Purnima, Vasant Panchami, Holi and such other festive occasions. The word Garba is derived from the word Garbha Deep meaning a lamp inside a perforated earthen pot. The light inside the perforated earthen pot symbolised the embryonic life. In this folk dance, ladies place the pot with the lamp on their heads and move in circles, singing in time measure by clapping their palms or snapping their fingers, to the accompaniment of folk instruments. Formerly associated with the legend of Krishna, Garbha is now a regular feature during the Navratri puja (nine nights in honor and worship of the goddess Durga).

Garba songs are mostly in praise of Mother Goddess Amba describing her form, powers, and invoking her blessings. Also there are Garbas describing seasons and social themes of domestic ends and married life.

Musical accompaniments to Garba are Damru, Tabla, Nagara, pot drum, percussion, Ektaro, Ravan hattho, Jantar, Pavo, shehani, murli, turi, and taturi.


Raas which is supposed to belong to Kutch and Saurashtra is performed all over Gujarat. The rasa traditions are as old as the Puranic period. In various parts of the country, Rasa are danced in different manners. The main feature of Rasa is dancing in a circle by men and woman, to the accompaniment of musical instruments and keeping time either by clapping or beating of two sticks. The number of dancers go from 8,16, 32 up to 64 couples, who also sing the song. There are three varieties of Rasaka described.

1. Danda Rasaka-Rasa dance where Danda or sticks re used.

2. Mandala or Tala Rasaka-Rasa dance where clapping is used.

3. Lata Rasaka- Rasa dance where dancers cling to each other and dance like a creeper to a tree.

Raas Nritya is a form of dance performed by lord Krishna with Gopikas. The Dandia variety of the Raas Nritya of Gujarat is generally performed by a group of youthful persons, both males and females, who move in circles to measured steps, beating time with small sticks (called dandia) singing to the accompaniment of Dhol, Cymbals, Zanz, flute or Shehnai. Now a days Dandia variety or Danda Rasaka is most popular dance form which is performed by the dancers during the Navratri and is popularly known as Dandiya Raas.

The Gof variety of the raas is an intricate performance wherein the performers holding coloured strings attached to a top, move in circles weaving and unweaving different patterns.

The Mers of Saurashtra are known for their folk dance called the Mer Raas. White shepherds perform what is called the Gher Raas. The Gheria Raas is a dance performed by the agriculturists of south Gujarat.

Tippani: There are certain folk dances which typically represent the community activities and their functional aspect. The Tippani folk dance is a dance of such a variety in which women labourers engaged in construction work, strike the floor with long sticks called Tippani. They have a rhythmic musical process to escape the tedium of the toil involved in their arduous task. The tribes in Gujarat have their own virile forms of the folk dances.

Hallisaka a group dance, in the Harivamsa Purana is very significant. This is a group dance, in a circular formation with the hands joined together forming a chain. The time (Tala) is kept by clapping and is accompanied by singing. A young man (Krishna) stands in the middle of the damsels. The feet movements, toes, heels and legs first start their journey to explore rhythmic expression measured steps, long, short, quick, and slow accompanied in single, double and triple timings.

Dangi Nrita: The Gangis are unique tribals, a blend of Gujarati and Maharashrian culture mixed harmoniously with original Dravidians. The dance performed by Dangis is called Dangi Nritya. Men and women join hands forming a chain or shrinkala making serpentine movements with one of them leading. The movements is very fast, swift and create various choreographic patterns in a fraction of a second. Each variety of step is called 'Chala' and there are about 27 varieties of these chalas. One of the most amazing sights of this dance is the creation of a human pyramid.

Hudo: It is the dance of the Bharwads, the shepherd community. The idea of the dance originated from sheep fights. The movements of two sheep ramming their heads is duplicated in the dance in which the dancers clap hands in a forceful and rhythmic manner. More than dance it is considered as a folk game which is played at Tarnetar and other fairs. The young men and women try to match their guts and strength with each other. While playing Hudo they sing songs of love.

Dholi Nritya: Originally the drummer who hailed from the scheduled Caste of Bhangi had the sole monopoly to play the drum on marriage occasions in a village.

The Dhol Players of Chorwad turned this into an organised form of folk dance. There are three players in which the middle player dances with the drum and the other two supply the rythmic beats in all variations. The rhythm changes from a slow tempo to a faster me and what three of them dance together the drums produce a thanderous rhythm. The stick is tied with which they nimbly tone the movement of the feet with which they keep time. The audience is held spellbound by sheer tempo, rythmic roar of the drums and fast footwork.

Manjira Nritya or Padhar Nritya Manjira Nritya is a peculiar type of folk dance of Padhaar community of Bhalnalkantha region. They entice us with heart rending display of Raas played along with jingling music of Manjira with precision and skill.

In this dance,padhaars sit in circular positin with legs stretched. Musical instruments like Ektaro, Tabla, players give "Tal" to other instruments. Dancers continue playing with Manjira with varieties of actions and modes by getting up, sitting, standing, turning, taking fudadi and playing manjira with feet fingers by raising legs vertically.

In Saurashtra, Bhajanika have mastery over the art of playing manjira. They play manjira while singing Bhajans and get absorbed in singing.

In Rajasthan this type of dance is known as “Tera Tal”. Here, four to five women sit with streched legs, tie thirteen manjira right from toe to feet fingers upto arms covering all limbs and play manjira and dance with tal and rhythm.

Dharampur: A dance which derives its name from the area. A tribal dance in which men paint their bodies and dance with weapons. Women join in dressed in colorful outfit.

Holi Nritya: A dance performed during Holi by the tribals of the eastern ghats of Gujarat. The dancers are dressed in peacock feathers on their head and waist and dance through the streets.

Siddi Dhamal : A unique dance style of Kachchh. The dancers dance with two thin sticks exhibiting their art and skill while dancing.

Ged-Do : Dance forms in this style of dance from Kachchh exhibit a complicated footwork by moving in a peculiar style akin to the movement of a horse in the game of chess. The dance also has a peculiar drum beat.

Matukadi : A female dance form from Gujarat, it is a very graceful one in which the dancers dance in a circular form in pairs.