40+ Major Folk Dances of Himachal Pradesh

A Kullu Rural Woman/Image Credit: Ellen Reitman
Himachal Pradesh is often called land of dances. These dances are an intregal part of tribal life, which perserverance, humour and humanness of Himachali people. Most of these dance dramas are based around stories about faith, religion, romance, chivalry and changing seasons. Some of the musical instruments which accompany these dance dramas are Ranasingha, Karna, Turhi, Flute, Ektara, Jhanjh, Manjra, Chimta, Ghariyal and Ghunghru.

Some of the major Himachali folk dances that often performed are

Chhanak Chham
Chham dance is one of the most popular dances of Lahaul-Spiti district. It is performed by the Buddhist monks, known as Lamas, during religious ceremonies and festivals. It is known for its use of elaborate mask, headgear and costumes. It is also very popular in other Buddhist settlement such as Ladakh and Kinnaur.

Dandras is a traditional dance performed by the men of nomadic Gaddi tribe of Bharmaur region in Chamba. It is performed with small sticks (danda) and can last for hours.

Dangi is a dance performed by women of nomadic Gaddi tribe of Bharmaur region in Chamba. It is performed at major festivals, weddings and Jatara. The dance is accompanied by the love ballads of Sunni and Bhukhu.

Losar Shona Chuksam
Losar Shona Chuksam is a major dance in Kinnaur. Losar in native language means New Year. It is performed each year in the months of Vaishakha and Chaitra. The dance is accompanied by the beats of the Bugjal, a big like Dhol music instrument along with Karnal.

Kullu Natii
Kullu Natti is a major dance performed by the tribal communities of Kullu during fairs and festivals. The dancers are drapped in traditional clothes and they dance along with the processions of musical instruments such as Dhol, Narsingha, Nagara, Shehnai and Karnal.

Thoda Dance
Thoda dance is a war dance performed by the Rajput clans of Sirmour, Shimla and Solan of Himachal Pradesh. It is usually performed during the Vishu Fair and traces its origin to Mahabharata.

Dalshone and Cholamba
These dances belongs to the Ropa Valley in Kinnaur. The dancers make a pattern that look likes coiled serpent. On another hand, Cholamba is ancient dance performed when a tiger is killed. The dance is masculine in nature.

Rakshasa Dance
Rakshasa Dance is one of the main attraction of Kinnaur. It is the reminiscent of the pre-historic period. It is performed with elaborated demon masks with performers either numbering three, five, seven or nine. It depicts the attack of the demons on the crops and ritual chasing away by the forces of good.

Shan and Shabu
The twin dances Shan and Shabu of Lahaul Valley are performed in the memory of Gautama Buddha at the Buddhist Gompas. Shan (also spelled as Shand)means a song of prayer for the Buddha which is sing along the dance. It is usually performed after completion of harvesting season. Shabu (also spelled as Shabbo) is similar in tempo and movements to Shan dance, but performed on religious ocassion.

Keekli and Bhangra
Keekli is a playful dance performed by young girls. The girls hold their hands in crosswise manner and rotate fast on their toes. Bhangra is a popular male dance originated in the plains of Punjab and popular in districts of Kangra, Hamirpur and Una.

Naula is a folk dance of Chamba valley performed around the stories of Lord Shiva.

Sometimes spelled as Thadair, Dhadair is a dance dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is performed near Rudratal temple in Sirmaur district.

District-Wise List of Folk Dances of Himachal Pradesh

ChambaPhoolyatra (Pangi Dance), Naula, Churahi, Jhanjhar, Dangi, Depak, Hantaar and Ghureyi
KinnaurDevil dance, Kyang (Kiang), Baakyang, Byangchchu, Jatru Kiang and Japro
KulluKadathi, Dhili, Rujhka and Ujgjama
Lahaul-SpitiShan, Shabu, Langdarman, Channak Cham, Shenni, Dhure and Gharfi
ShimlaThoda, Chhohara, Ghee, Mala, Boora, Bidsu and Sinh
SirmaurBidsu, Ghee, Natti, Rassa, Jhuri, Budah, Padua, Dhadair and Swang Tegi

Source: History, Religion and Culture of India (edited by S Gajrani)
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