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The tribal and folk dances of India draw the most fascinating canvas shaded with vivacity and deep-rooted culture. These dances are not merely a form of dance but rather a way of life for Indian people. Each of them has enfolded an entrenched history and culture within itself.

So today, let’s dive into the priceless treasure trove of Indian tribal & folk dances that manifest the captivating culture of the country in the form of melodic tunes. So, lace up your shoes and get on the dance floor of tribal and folk dances of India.


Now, it’s time to get into the unfathomable ocean of tribal and folk dances of India. The classification of folk dances in India is as per the state boundaries. Do you know any Indian folk dance names? No? Well, India has a long folk dance list but you don’t panic. We won’t flood your mind with all types of folk dance information. Here, we have listed down only the popular folk dances of India state-wise.


Let’s begin with one of the most popular and traditional folk dances of India that has marked its presence all across India and even in certain parts of the world. If you have never done the Bhangra, please don’t call yourself an Indian. Though Punjab is the home of this amazing folk dance, it has made the entire nation dance to its loud beats of Dhols (double-headed drums).

Bhangra doubles the joy of any special occasion in Punjab. However, you’ll witness it in its full splendor in the Vaisakhi festival during harvest season. Bhangra is a folk dance that can get pretty loud.

A Dhol and Chimta are the requisite musical instruments for Bhangra. It has its own set of traditional dresses too. Men generally wear Kurta and Tehmat. As usual, a turban completes their look. Girls wear long flowing clothes accompanied by a set of elegant jewelry.

The dancing costume is vividly colorful and each color symbolizes something. Bhangra dance itself has different styles of dancing. It has evolved over the centuries. Bit by bit, it got refined to a great degree. Now, people often do the Bhangra with a touch of modern dance styles.


Now, take your eyes off the vivacity of Bhangra and here behold your eyes on armed performers of Chhau dance. To start with, the Chhau dance is a part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of India. With this fact, you can assume the roots and legacy of this tribal dance form.

It glorifies eastern India predominantly Odisha, West Bengal, and Jharkhand with its spectacular dance moves. Chhau dance is based on martial arts, mock combat, acrobatics, and storytelling. Generally, the story goes around the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The major catchment of the Chhau dance is the masked and armed performers. They hold a sword on one hand and a shield on the other. Speaking of this folk dance attire, a brightly colored Dhoti with a flared bottom is the traditional costume for men as well as women.

Chhau dance is the essence of Gajan Festival and Sun Festival. However, the performances take place all year long.


Garba is the impulse of life for Gujjus. It is one of the most popular and traditional folk dances of India. It is mainly a woman’s dance. However, men participate too. A group of women dressed beautifully in embroidered Ghagra & Choli forms a circle and performs Garba. Thus, it is also a circle dance.

Though Garba originated in Gujarat, it has taken the nation in its dance circle. If you want to see Garba in its full glory, visit Gujarat during Navratri. During these 9 days, you’ll find every nook and cranny of Gujarat dancing in the brisk movements of Garba. Besides Navratri, Garba paints Gujarat in its exhilarated colors on almost every auspicious and festive occasion.

Clapping hands in unison and singing the songs in the praise of Goddess Durga is the gist of Garba. Almost every step of Garba ends in a clap. However, the folk dance steps have been refined significantly in recent few years.

Drum, Harmonium, and Naal are the requisite musical instruments for Garba. The drummer sits in the center of the circle and synchronizes the rhythms. Sometimes, a clay statue of Goddess Durga is also placed at the center.


Take your eyes off the panoramic charm of J & K and get your feet in its rich heritage. The higher the snow-capped mountains J&K has, the deeper roots it has on cultural grounds. J&K represents its inimitable culture gracefully in the forms of dances. Don’t believe us? Okay, catch a glimpse of Dumhal dance. Being one of the most famous folk dances of J&K, it unfolds an unsaid cultural saga with its every step.

You’ll get to see Dumhal dance only in J&K that too only by the boys. Yes, it’s a man dance. All the boys clad themselves in multi-hued garbs and then dance. To complete their look, they wear the conical caps flecked magnificently with beads.

They sing the songs themselves in a loud voice. The sonorous drum beats in between sending the energy level of participants through the roof.

Kud: Jammu & Kashmir

Another breathtaking folk dance from J&K that depicts its culture and traditions in a vibrant way. If you want to witness unity in the divergent colors of J&K, Kud dance is a must-watch for you. Unlike other tribal and folk dances of India, Kud dance brings oldies and youths together. They perform together.

The picturesque backdrop of mountains and the pleasant rainy weather makes the dance even more absorbing. Kud dance is actually a thanksgiving ritual of the Kashmiri people. The dance performance lasts for long hours.


Does this dance form ‘Raas Leela’ really need an introduction? We guess, not. You might not have heard about this folk dance of India but this word certainly won’t be unheard for you. Well, this dance form belongs to the city of Lord Krishna where love blooms at its entire vista.

Originally, this folk dance form owes its roots to the era of Shree Krishna. Once lord himself had performed a dance with his all milkmaids (Gopis) and satiated them with the purest form of love. This is where the custom of Raas Leela came into existence. Today, it is the most popular folk dance of north India.

It goes without saying that the theme of this folk dance always revolves around Lord Krishna, his Gopis, and their pure love. In every performance, you’ll see a girl/boy dressed like a Krishna with a flute in hand and peacock feathers in the crown. A group of girls, clad in Ghagra, Choli along with a Dupatta, act as Gopis.

Raas Leela conveys the supreme form of love through its music, songs, and instruments. If you want to immerse yourself in the deepest ocean of love, visit Mathura during Janmashtami when Raas Leela comes in full swing. Believe us, a single performance of Raas Leela will change your approach to love.


Don’t tell us you have never watched a Ghoomar dance. You have. Remember Deepika? Yes, that film. The controversies of the film Padmavat have certainly put Ghoomar dance on a worldwide stage, but it has its own fair share of glory.

Ghoomar is actually a tribal dance of the Bhil community of Rajasthan but gradually it made its way even to the royal palaces. Today, it is one of the most famous tribal dances of India. Ghoomar is a woman dance, mainly performed on Teej and other festivals. However, it also marks social occasions with its vibrancy.

Women garb themselves completely on traditional Rajasthani attires and perform in a group. Their long skirt finely embroidered and studded with mirror work plays a significant role in Ghoomar dance. Heavy jewelry and flashy bangles add further beauty to their Ghoomar look.

If you want to see the grandeur of history, the richness of culture, the creativity of expression, and ecstasy of celebration altogether, get a load of Ghoomar dance.


Assam is awesome. Isn’t it? Today, forget its verdant meadows of tea and be a part of its stimulating folk dance. Assamese celebrate Bihu folk dance in such a grand manner that it is no less than a festival for them.

Unlike other tribal and folk dances of India, the Bihu dance involves swift hand movements and some complex steps. The performers of Bihu dance are both men and women of the same age group. Bihu dance marks the change in seasons and takes place only three times in a year.

The fun of Bihu dance would be bland without a loud Dhol, horn, and Gagana (a required instrument made of bamboo). Speaking of these folk dance dresses, all performers wear a same dress from color to design. It is the beauty of Bihu folk dance.

Generally, all women wear mustard and red colored Sari while their male counterparts clad themselves in Dhoti and Kurta of the same color. Furthermore, men complete their look with a pink colored headband.


Lavani is actually a genre of music that glorifies Marathi folk theater. Characterized by its poetic songs, and rapid dance moves, Lavani is the portrayal of traditional songs and dances together. If you understand Marathi, these poetic songs will surely take you in the narrow lanes of Indian art. If Marathi is not your thing, just watch the absorbing dance and the subtle expressions of performers.

The performers of Lavani are always women who dance on pulsating beats of Dholak. Like all other tribal and folk dances of India, Lavani too has its own traditional costumes, but it has an interesting one. All performers wear the nine-yard Saree in typical Marathi style and ornament themselves further with the gleaming gold jewelry. The color of Sari can vary but it has to be bright in any case.

Other than Dholak, drum accompanies the quick tempo of music and nimble dance moves. If you’re going to watch a Lavani performance, be prepared to sit for long hours. Generally, Lavani’s performance lasts the whole night.

Ghumura: Odisha

Odisha has various types of folk & tribal dances. Among all, Ghumura is the prominent and most popular traditional tribal dance of Odisha. You can feel the stirring moves of Ghumura in the whole of Odisha. The dance form is particularly famous in Kalahandi district, though. Vividly clad boys perform Ghumura on Dussehra to celebrate victory over evil.

Categorized by some complex dance moves, the Ghumura dance is said to be a war dance. It has deep roots since the ages of Ramayana. Even after being one of the oldest tribal and folk dances of India, Ghumura, unfortunately, couldn’t gain significant heights. It is still performed at the village level only in Odisha.

Raut Nacha: Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh represents its cultural heritage in a striking dance form ‘Raut Nacha’. The dance form is predominantly famous among Yaduvansh of Chhattisgarh. They consider themselves the descendants of Lord Krishna. They foster an unparalleled devotion for Krishna and illustrate it in the form of folk dance on the occasion of ‘Dev Uthani Ekadashi’.

Like Raas Leela, this dance is also extremely akin to Lord Krishna and his Gopis. However, it also embodies other life timelines of Shree Krishna including the Kansa battle. In fact, Kansa & Krishna’s historic combat is the prime theme of this dance form.

The performers dress up as a warrior carrying metal shields and enact remarkably. Furthermore, the gripping songs in the form of couplet (Doha) bring the performances to life.


You can also call it the Karagam dance. Unlike other tribal and folk dances of India, Karakattam needs more effort in order to do it perfectly. Mainly, women perform this dance in the honor of rain Goddess Mariamman. Karakattam is different from other tribal folk dances of India in many ways. Above all, it needs no instruments to intensify its performance.

Girls wear brightly colored sleek Saris and decorate them with garlands. From the hair to the wrist, you can see them gorgeously decked with flowers.

Most importantly, they put a vividly garnished pot on their head. Interestingly, they don’t hold the pot with their hands. They keep their hands free for the dance. Guess what, the pot doesn’t fall throughout their performance. Isn’t it stupefying?


The term ‘folk dance’ can’t define the depth of Yakshagana. To be more specific, Yakshagana is actually a popular folk theater from Karnataka. It is also quite dissimilar from other tribal and folk dances of India.

From melodic music to exuberant dance movements and from spontaneous expressions to reflective dialogues, a performance of Yakshagana will enrapture you in its mesmerizing aura. Other than the dance movements, the multi-hued costume of performers is the major catchment of the eyes. They usually dress up in royal attire.

The performances of Yakshagana always spin the mythological tales from Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas with a texture of entertainment.

Veeranatyam: Andhra Pradesh

Earlier, Veeranatyam was a ritual of the Vajramushti community. But today, it has taken an extensive art form. It is actually an homage to the almighty Lord Shiva. To get a glimpse of Veeranatyam’s performance, head over to any Shiva temple in Andhra Pradesh. It mainly takes place in Shiva temples during wedding ceremonies or any other vow fulfillment rituals. Given this fact, it also marks its presence on the list of tribal wedding dances of India.

As the dance is all about Lord Shiva, it is extremely vigorous. The dancers invigorate it even more with their stirring performance. It is often accompanied by the continuous chants of Shiva mantras and some echoing musical instruments.

Until today, you would have seen the calmest form of devotion. Here, witness it in its loudest form.


How can ‘the city of joy’ be devoid of music and art? In fact, every little soil of West Bengal is satiated with the vibrancy of art. When it comes to folk dances, West Bengal has a long list to mark its presence. Among all, Gambhira is the most spectacular one.

Though it is more of a theatrical art, it also involves some transfixing dance movements. There are 2-3 performers who put the stage on fire with their spellbinding acts. If you want to capture the highs and lows of everyday life in every aspect, there can be no better folk dance than Gambhira.

The theme of performances always revolves around the social, political, and day-to-day problems of society. Their depiction is so riveting that it will take you into a trance for a moment.

Fugdi: Goa

What if we say that you haven’t explored Goa through and through yet? Wait, before hitting a hard punch, let us be more specific. Well, we’re talking about the folk & tribal dances of Goa. Have you explored them? No? Okay, here shake your legs in Fugdi dance, one of the best tribal dances of Goa.

Middle-aged women perform Fugdi at a religious festival like Ganesh Chaturthi. They form a circle and perform on their own. No musical instruments or songs are needed. The women sing the songs themselves.

Believe us. The enthusiasm of middle-aged women will impart a rejuvenating zeal in you. It is a folk dance with a twist. You can’t anticipate what would be the next movement of the dance.


Laho is a worth-watching folk & tribal dance from Meghalaya. Performed by the Jaintia community on auspicious festivals, Laho is one of the most popular folk & tribal dances of northeast India. It is a folk dance with partners. Men and women clad themselves in colorful dresses and perform Laho together.

Unlike other tribal and folk dances of India, Laho dance doesn’t need a drum or any musical instruments. Generally, the performers recite rhythmic couplets themselves. The dance starts at a slow pace. As it proceeds, it takes momentum and ends at a high tempo.

Hojagiri: Tripura

Tripura presents its unique art through its tribal dance Hojagiri. The dance is predominantly popular among the Riang Clan of Tripura. It is performed by 5-6 young girls on the occasion of the Hojagiri festival which generally falls after the 3rd day of Dussehra. In fact, it is a religious ceremony to appease Goddess Laxmi.

The dance steps of Hojagiri are complex such as bending upward and backward. Well, this is the beauty of this dance. If you shake your legs only on easy tribal dances, this one is certainly not for you. You would need to undergo intense training to get Hojagiri dance.


If you want to celebrate Holi in a more colorful way, head over to Manipur and be a part of the vibrant performance of Dhol Cholam. Dhol Cholam is often performed in Buddhist monasteries, and the topics of dance are always Buddhist stories.

A group of young boys holding swords and shields in their hands performs Dhol Cholam during Holi. It is primarily a form of tribal war dance. The dance performance is stimulating in nature and always requires a drum.

So, what about holding the drumsticks in your hand and making people dance to your beats? A thrilling idea. No? Then, what is holding you? Go and try your hands on a drum.


Like the awe-inspiring charisma of Himachal Pradesh, its folk and tribal dances are spectacular too. Among all, Namagen is the essence of the state. The Kinnauri tribal community of Himachal Pradesh performs the Namagen dance during September to celebrate the arrival of autumn.

If you also want to shake your legs in the melodic tunes of tribal and folk dances of India, be a part of this dance group. Usually, the people of Kinnauri communities are very amiable. You might not understand their folk dance music, but believe us their absorbing music will make you hit the ground.

Other than the enchanting music, the interesting part of this dance is the woolen costumes of the dancers. Unlike other tribal and folk dances of India, Namagen needs several musical instruments.

Hurka Baul: Uttarakhand

Amid the unspoiled magnetism of snow-clad mountains and the soothing calmness of Uttarakhand, sneak a look at the Hurka Baul dance to witness a different facet of Uttarakhand. It is a seasonal dance, performed as a ritual during the cultivation of paddy and maize. A group of exquisitely dressed boys or girls performs the dance in the different fields on a fixed day.

A singer recites the heroic stories of battles and the performers enact the narration with their evocative movements.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to kick up your heels and dance to the vibrating tunes of the cool tribal dances of Uttarakhand? Though there are many, Hurka Baul deserves your attention the most.


Like some other tribal and folk dances of India, Padayani is also a completely traditional art from Kerala. To be more specific, it is a ritual dance with a blend of music, theatre, painting, devotion, and of course dances. Padayani is performed on the banks of the Pampa River in Bhadrakali temples to commemorate their religious history.

The performers wearing big facial masks, dressed in traditional garbs, and singing the melodic songs are really a sight to behold. Their frisky dance accompanied by resonant music will make you leave your seat and dance excitedly. To make it more dynamic, the mellow sounds of Thappu (the primary instrument for Padayani) leave no stone unturned.


When it comes to popular tribal and folk dances of India, Madhya Pradesh contributes a big chunk in the form of Guar dance. Gaur dance is popular among the hunter tribes. In fact, it symbolizes the never-dying spirit of hunting.

Generally, people of the hunting tribe make the announcement of the Gaur dance by sounding a horn and trumpet of bamboo. Afterward, they wear bizarre tribal dresses and perform on the tunes of their own music. The interesting part of Gaur dance is the deafening beats of the drum. With its riveting moves and spontaneous tempo of the music, Gaur’s dance captivates the audience.


Among all tribal and folk dances of India, Bardo Chham is dissimilar because it has its own style of dancing. Ideally, it is a significant ritual among the Sherdukpens tribal community of Arunachal Pradesh. This ritual is performed by men and women during festivals and traditional ceremonies to eradicate the evil forces.

People gown up themselves in traditional attire and wear distinctive animal masks. Then, they dance and enact dramatic fights between good and bad. Their masks represent the innate quality of that animal. The enthralling background music and thunderous beats of drums make Bardo Chham’s performances absorbing.


The Bhutia community of Sikkim beautifully represents its majestic culture through the Singhi Chham dance. Snow lion holds a significant role in this dance. It is kind of a ritual that takes place every year in September during the worship of Kanchenjunga. Owing to its significance, the dance is also called the Kanchendzonga dance.

The performers put on esoteric lion costumes and then dance vigorously. A drummer adds further magic to the dance. Even if you’ve never danced on any folk dance and have no idea about folk dance moves, you can manage to cut a rug on Singhi Chham dance. Yes, you can. It is pretty simple. However, first, make sure to look at the moves of folks.

Paika: Jharkhand

The Munda community of Jharkhand is native to Paika dance. It is more of a martial art of indigenous Munda people. Unlike other tribal and folk dances of India, Paika dance is the unmatched fusion of unity and war. The people of this community come together and display their skills with different weapons. They hold swords & shields in their hands and then perform the dance.

For Munda people, the celebration of Dussehra is incomplete without a startling Paika dance. Believe us, when the performers take the dance at its full flow, you just can’t resist jumping on the ground with wonder. To make the performances intriguing, the musical instruments such as Madal fill the air with excitement.

Jhijhiya Dance: Bihar

Jhijhiya dance is performed by Bihari women to appease the Lord Indra when there is no rain and lands are cracked. To perform this ancient dance, women wear traditional attires and put mud lanterns on their heads. They keep a lit lamp inside the lanterns. Then, they perform in a group.

Furthermore, the percussion instruments and harmonious music add gusto to the performance. With their nippy dance moves, the performers stir vitality in the audience. If you know even a bit about Bihari culture, you can be a part of a Jhijhiya dancing group. The dance steps are not complex.


We have come so far. Now, can you tell us what a folk dance is, and what is an ideal folk dance definition? Okay, let us tell you. Folk dance is a form of dance performed by a group of people. The dancers wear a specific dress code and perform on a particular theme associated with culture. Right? This is what a folk dance means.

Well, this goes true for the world of folk dancing. However, if you’re talking about folk dance in India, the definition of the same gets a bit deeper and more complicated. The vibrancy of India is evident even in its long list of folk dances.


Certainly, a group of people performs folk dances in India too, but the thing that makes them unique from that of the world is their variations in the particular dance form itself. In India, there are wide arrays of folk dances.

Generally, you’ll get a glimpse of Indian folk dances in rural areas only. Common people perform folk dance as opposed to professional dancers. Given this fact, the style of folk dance is free from variations and any defined steps. Folk dance rules & steps hardly change.


Okay, now, give your legs a break from folk dancing and get ready for the different tribal dances of Indian states. Better, start by tribal dances definition. If you think folk dancing and tribal dancing are the same, let us be honest, You got the wrong idea. Tribal dance is certainly a subform of folk dancing but it is immensely dissimilar from the latter.

Though both require a group of people and a specific dress code, they’re two different types of dance having their own specialties and ways of expression. The tribal dances meaning is different too.

Unlike folk dances, tribal dance is always performed by a tribal community (Adivasi) of different regions of India. A drum is a primary instrument for tribal dance in India.


Got confused between folk dance and tribal dance? Okay, first let us tell you the different types of dances. In general, dance forms are classified into two categories. Yes, only two. All types of dances are the subforms of these major categories. And, they are:




Now, you have a clear understanding of classical, folk, and tribal dancing. So, let’s get back to our topic ‘tribal and folk dances of India’. Everything has its beginning. Isn’t it? Well, the same goes for folk dancing.

However, folk dance origin is not known exactly. Evidently, it evolved during the late 19th century in certain parts of the world. Soon after, it marked its prominence throughout the world and continued to become one of the most popular dance forms.

What Is The History Of Folk Dance?

There is no approved folk & tribal dances history. Apparently, the folk dance grabbed the attention after the 19th century. It remained under the umbrella for years before making its way to a worldwide popular dance form.

Speaking of Indian folk dance history, tribal and folk dances of India have deep roots tracing back to the time of ancient culture. Here again, they came into the limelight in the last few decades only. Today, India has different folk dance types. Bhangra is believed to be the oldest one.


Folk dance is important because it keeps the culture alive. There can be no better way of expressing the ebbs and flows of life than folk dance.

Can you tell us where we have headed on cultural grounds in this digital era? Today, everything is at a fingertip except for the bare truth of life. Do you remember when you read, heard, or saw something valuable about our culture last time? Can’t remember?

Well, tribal and folk dances of India fill this gap. They revived ancient culture in the time when people lived and breathed YouTube. In a real sense, the tribal and folk dances of India not only provide a comprehensive insight into culture & tradition but also act as a thread connecting past and future generations together.


Though there are no tribal & folk dance instructions and they need no professional training, they have their own certain characteristics that distinguish them from others. If you hit the floor with some of your buddies and start jumping randomly, it doesn’t mean you’re doing a folk or a tribal dance. Tribal and folk dances of India have their own set of attributes. Here, have a look at the tribal and folk dance facts:

● The subjects of folk dance and tribal dances of India always revolve around the daily life and the rituals of rural communities.

● They don’t have any defined rules, professional training, or a dedicated study to accomplish them.

● Tribal and folk dances of India have an intimate relationship with peasants, indigenous tribal people, and hilly villagers.

● They are passed on generation to generation maintaining the connotations of antiquity, elegance, and tradition.

● A folk dance performance is often accompanied by vigorous music and certain musical instruments that can evoke buoyancy in you. However, music and rhythms are mostly in the local language.

● Above all, the tribal and folk dances of India illustrate the aesthetic values, artistic heritage, and cultural legacy of the country.

● People conduct folk dances usually during harvest seasons, historical events, family functions, social get-togethers, religious gatherings, or any other special occasion.

● People conduct folk dances usually during harvest seasons, historical events, family functions, social get-togethers, religious gatherings, or any other special occasion.


You must have heard the terms ‘ethnic dance’ and ‘traditional folk dance’. But, do you know what is the difference between the two of them? Well, let us help you to understand these two terms precisely. There is a fine line between ethnic dance and folk dance.

Ethnic dance is actually an umbrella term of folk dance. Religious and traditional themes are common topics for an ethnic dance. An ethnic dance can be restricted to a particular ethnicity and community. Different tribal dances can be classified as a form of ethnic dance.

While folk dances are majorly premised on day-to-day life and social activities. Above all, it is beyond ethnicity. People from different communities can perform a folk dance together. However, they must have the same cultural background.


Don’t ask this question because if you start counting, the list of dances in India will go endless. India comprises various styles of dance. Most of them fall under the traditional dance category.

A traditional dance is one which has something to do with the culture & tradition of a particular region. Given the fact, that all classical and folk dances are traditional dances in some or another way. In opposed to that, what you see in films is not a traditional dance.


Tell us, why do you dance? To convey your ideas, to express your art, or maybe just to uplift your mood? Well, this is the real purpose of dance for everyone. It may vary from dance to dance and context to context. Like, a folk dance has a different purpose and a contemporary dance has some other.

Nevertheless, the ultimate purpose of dance is to express yourself and your ideas without saying anything.

Dance is an art, and every art makes you a better human being somehow or other. Likewise, dancing makes you a creative and cheerful person.

Above all, dancing helps you to express your ideas which you can’t express in words. It is a way of life and certainly a way of sheer happiness.

So, when you’re going to take a plunge for dancing? Don’t be embarrassed about your funny dance moves. Just start. It will find its way. Believe us you’ll be a better person tomorrow.


India Travel Guide

Festival In India

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