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5 Traditional Folk Dances of West Bengal, India

5 Traditional Folk Dances of West Bengal, India

West Bengal is renowned for its charming art and merry culture.

Bengali folk dances are infused with music and beats. 

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Different regions of the state are characterized by diverse types of folk music and traditional dance renowned for their elegance and richness.

In this article, you will get to know about the following folk dances in West Bengal,

  1. Gambhira Dance
  2. Brita Dance
  3. Tusu Dance
  4. Chhau Dance
  5. Baul Dance

Let’s see each of these in detail…

1. Gambhira Dance

Gambhira dance is a popular folk dance form in the Malda district of West Bengal.

It is observed during the festival of Chaitra Sankranti.

Folk dancers use different masks which are made either by the woods of fig trees or the neem trees. Sometimes these masks are also made up of clay.

These masks are made by the local Sutradhar Community.

The facial attributes are first carved out from the wood and then colored according to the character.

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The three dimension crowns are the specialty of these masks.

The mask dance is performed by the dancers of the local community and these folk dances are either agricultural or devotional.

The worshippers of Shakti perform the devotional dances of Gambira on the constructed pavilion in front of the shrine.

Dancers also indulge in different dialogues to express the social, religious, and political concerns they are facing in society.

2. Brita Dance

Brita or Vrita is a famous and popular traditional folk dance from all over Bengal. 

It is a simple dance form and anyone can perform it. 

This folk dance is generally performed by childless women in the state to receive the blessings of God. 

After the wishes are granted the women again perform dances on the temple premises in order to thank and appease the deity for the blessings received by the god. 

The dance is also performed after the recovery from various contagious and life-threatening diseases like chicken pox or smallpox.

3. Tusu Dance

Tusu Dance is another popular folk dance in West Bengal specially performed in the months of Pousa (December-January).

The root of this culture originates from Birbhum celebrating the Tusu Festival or Tusu Parab on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.

It is generally performed to celebrate the harvesting of crops.

Men and women equally participate in the dance.

Along with the dances, they sing local songs called “Tusu”, devotional verses, and some other vocal melodies.

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Tusu, when executed elegantly and with smooth motions by the unmarried girls, satisfies their desire for marriage.

The Tusu dance also has a vast collection of songs that depict many narratives and daily life events.

Simple movements make up the Tusu dance, and the songs have a strong connection to nature and give people the spirit to live.

It is also observed in districts like Medinipur and Purulia.

4. Chhau Dance

Chhau Dance emerged from The Purulia district of West Bengal. It takes its inspiration from combative training and martial arts.

This dance style is prevalent in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal.

The word Chhau derives from the word “Chhaya” which means shadow or masks.

Dancers portray stories to the audience by wearing headgear or masks that symbolize wars taking place on the battlefield.

The stories revolve around two great epics in the Indian Mythology of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Chhau dances are predominantly observed during the Gajan Festival. At times it is performed during the Sun Festival and weddings. 

These dances are generally performed at an elevated stage, with the audience sitting in a circle or in an arch around them to watch.

The heavy costumes of these dances are rather fascinating.

Kurtas flared dhotis, vast necklaces, and sarees are worn by the performers along with a heavy mask.

Three main types of Indian instruments accompany the performance, the Dhol, Shehnai, and Dhamsa.

5. Baul Dance

Baul dance is a popular folk dance that originated in the early 15th century, in the era of Srikrishna Kirtan.

The evidence of Baul dances is also found in Chaitanya Bhagavata and Chaitanya Charitamrita.

Baul Dance culture is majorly spread across Nadia, Dinaj, Murshidabad, Bardhaman, and other rural Raes of Bengal. 

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There are two types of Baul dances depending on the traditional approach.

Bauls wear a saffron cloak or an Allkhalla and perform dances along with an Ektara.

Their ancestral Bauls tie bells in their legs and dance with the rhythms of Dotara, Kartal, Kohl, and Dubki. 

The Baul songs are quite soothing, possessing a deep touch of spirituality and mythology in them. 

These are some of the popular Folk dances in the state of West Bengal.

The well-known traditional dance forms will surely amaze you in all possible ways.

The grandeur, pomp, and show of these dances are so exciting that even foreigners take part in them.


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