The people of Rajasthan live life to the hilt. After
hard work in the harsh desert sun and the rocky terrain
whenever they take time off they let themselves go in
gay abandon. There is dancing, singing, drama,
devotional music and puppet shows and other community
festivities which transform the hardworking Rajasthani
into a fun-loving and carefree individual. Each region
has its own folk entertainment, the dance styles differ
as do the songs. Interestingly enough, even the musical
instruments are different.
Of considerable significance are the devotional songs
and the communities who render these songs. Professional
performers like the Bhaats, Dholis, Mirasis, Nats,
Bhopas and Bhands are omnipresent across the state. They
are patronised by the villagers who participate actively
in the shows put up by these travelling entertainers.
Some of the better known forms of entertainment are:
This is basically a community dance for women and
performed on. auspicious occasions. Derived from the
word ghoomna, piroutte, this is a very simple dance
where the ladies move gently, gracefully in circles.
This is one of the many dance-forms of the Bhil
tribals. Performed during Holi festival, this is among a
few performances where both men and women dance
Gait: Another Holi dance but performed only by men. This
becomes Dandia Gair in Jodhpur and Geendad in Shekhawati.
This is popular in the Kisherigarh region and
involves dancing with a chari, or pot, on one’s head. A
lighted lamp is then placed on the pot.
This is a dance performed on dummy horses. Men in
elaborate costumes ride the equally well decorated dummy
horses. Holding naked swords, these dancers move
rhythmically to the beating of drums and fifes. A singer
narrates the exploits of the Bavaria bandits of Shekhawati.
The Jasnathis of Bikaner and Chum are renowned for
their tantric powers and this dance is in keeping with
their lifestyle. A large ground is prepared with live
wood and charcoal where the Jasnathi men and boys jump
on to the fire to the accompaniment of drum beats. The
music gradually rises in tempo and reaches a crescendo,
the dancers seem to be in a trance like state. Drum
Dance: This is a professional dance-form from Jalore.
Five men with huge drums round their necks, some with
huge cymbals accompany a dancer who holds a naked sword
in his mouth and performs vigorously by twirling three
The Kamad community of Pokhran and Deedwana perform
this dance in honour of theft deity, Baba Ramdeo. A
rather unusual performance where the men play a
four-stringed instrument called a chau-tara and the
women sit with dozens of manjeeras, or cymbals, tied on
all over their bodies and strike them with the ones they
hold in their hands. Sometimes, the women also hold a
sword between their teeth or place pots with lighted
lamps on their heads.
Puppet plays based on popular legends are performed
by skilled puppeteers. Displaying his skill in making
the puppets’ act and dance, the puppeteer is accompanied
by a woman, usually his wife, who plays the dholak, or
drum and sings the ballad.
Pabuji Ki Phach:
A 14th century folk hero, Pabuji is revered by the
Bhopa community. The phad, or scroll, which is about 10
metres long, highlights the life and heroic deed of
Pabuji. The Bhopas are invited by villagers to perform
in their areas during times of sickness and misfortune.
The ballad is sung by the Bhopa as he plays the
Ravan-hattha and he is joined by his wife who holds a
lamp and illuminates the relevant portions at
Rajasthan’s most sophisticated style of folk music and
has come a long way from the time it was only sung in
royal courts, in praise of the Rajput rulers.
Professional singers still sing the haunting ballads of
Moomal Mahendra, Dhola-Maru and other legendary lovers
List of singers and performers also includes the Mirasis
and Jogis of Mewat, Manganiyars and Langas, Kanjars,
Banjaras and Dholies. Performances like the Kuchamani
Khayal, Maach, Tamasha, Rammat, Nautanki and Raasleela
are no less popular. The musical instruments of
Rajasthan are simple but quite unusual. Handcrafted by
the musicians themselves they are rather unique and
include instruments like the Morchang, Naad, Sarangi,
Kamayacha, Rawanhattha, Algoza, Khartal, Poongi, Bankia
and Da There are dozens of other instruments which are
exclusive to Rajasthan only.