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Top 5 Folk Dances from the most unexpected corners of India

As you would know that our India is a land of folk dances and traditional rituals. But what you might not know is that apart from preserving these rituals some communities have also succeeded in making them well known to the people living in the other parts of the country.

These folk dances are not only beautiful and peaceful to look at but also are very fun and energetic to participate in. They will definitely make you wear their elegant costumes and hats which is only more of a reason to go and visit to see these intricately done folk dances.

So here is the list of the few Folk Dances from the less popular parts of the country!

1. Dumhal:

Credits – Gosahin


Performed by the men of Wattal and Rauf tribe, this is one of the most vibrant, cheerful and joyful folk dance you’ll witness.

Performed in the cold weather of Jammu and Kashmir, its costumes are heavy and suitable to the cause along with conical caps, studded with beads and shells. Even though this is the most famous dance in the Kashmir, it is not heard in other parts of the country.

Though the focus is now shifting from only male to both the genders but still in many areas and traditional tribes it is a male dominated dance.

It’s history goes back to the time when it was a celebrated from the era of Sufi movement . This dance is believed to have been started by Shah Sukar Saloni, the disciple of the Sufi Saint Baba Nasim-U-Din-Gazi. Shah Sukar Saloni had performed this dance in the memory of his Guru.

The dance involves sticking a stick in the ground and dancing around in a choir.

  • Performed by: Males – Wattal and Rauf Tribe
  • Point of celebration: Religious
  • Time: Throughout the year
  • Region: Jammu and Kashmir
  • Other dances of the region: Kud, Bacha Nagma, Rouf dance

2. Kompa Tsum Tsag

Credits – leh-ladakh-taxi-booking.com


Did you ever think that there might be hidden gem ad-mist the highest peaks and extreme cold of Leh and Ladakh?

Yes you heard it right! there are many tribes living there still preserving year long traditions, customs and folk festivities.

Kompa Tsum Tsag is only one among many delights of Ladakh’s hidden possessions. The name describes the dance itself as it translates to “three steps” and these steps are so intricately performed that no one can figure out the movements until an adept explains it to them.

The extremely slow yet peaceful dance played on the beats on drums in a circle performed by both genders and trumpets is something to look forward if you plan a trip to one of the coldest places in India.

  • Performed by: Men and Women
  • Point of celebration: Folk dance
  • Time: Winter
  • Region: Ladakh
  • Other dances of the region: Jabro, Spao, Kathok Chenmo

3. Matki

Credits – SchoolChalao


Ever heard of utensils being used as a dance pomp?

This dance from the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh is a perfect combination of grace and balance.

Matki translates to earthen pot and true to it’s name, it is a dance performed with Matki on the head, but here is the twist, there is not only one but several Matkis with which this dance is beautifully done. It requires constant practice, hard-work and balance to achieve the perfect coordination.

If you ever get to witness it beautiful art form don’t miss it as it as beautiful as difficult it is.

Matki Dance is mostly performed in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is a solo dance performed by ladies on special occasions like weddings, birthdays, or any other special occasion with a veil on their faces.

It is also known by other names such as Khada Nach and Aada.

  • Performed by: Females mostly
  • Point of celebration: Functions/ Festivals
  • Time: Throughout the year
  • Region: Madhya Pradesh
  • Other dances of the region: Raai, Bhagoria, Naurata

4. Lava

Credits – Auchitya


Being an island, normally people would not imagine about the folk dances and traditions that might still be alive and nourished there. But if we come to think about it, it may be the main reason that their traditions are still intact, because they are isolated and well surrounded by their own cultures.

It is a dance performed by the males of the Lakshadweep island and the word Lava translates to beautiful dance and rhythm. They wear red trousers with a white scarf tied around the waist and a form of black and white headgear called Bolufeyli.

When the music starts they form a line and dances on the warm up steps and later forms a circle and dances in the sped up rhythmic movements.

  • Performed by: Males
  • Point of celebration: Festivals
  • Time: All year during festivities
  • Region: Lakshadweep island
  • Other dances of the region: Kolkali, Dando

5. Nongkrem

Credits – theshillongtimes.com


It is a dance wildly done during the five day harvest festival celebrations of the Khasi tribe in the village called smith which is less then 50 kms from the capital of Meghalaya – Shillong.

Elegantly performed by the men and women in their red-yellow clad costumes is done to honour the goddess Ka Blei Synshar worshipped by the Khasi tribe.

The word Nongkrem means “Killing the Goat” which forms a major ritual of the tradition to sacrifice a goat to the deity by the priests who then perform the Pemblang ceremony. After the sacrificing ritual is done, the field is prepared for the young and virgin girls to dance adorned in heavy gold ornaments. This is basically a harvest ceremony and is done to celebrate good harvest health and prosperity of the village.

  • Performed by: Young Women mostly
  • Point of celebration: Religious
  • Time: Harvest period
  • Region: Meghalaya
  • Other dances of the region: Khasis, Garos, Pnars

I bet you did not know the name of most of them!

That’s because they are the folk dances from the most unexpected corners of India! But watching them in their traditional attires dancing the joy of dance to the drums and pipes is a sight for the sore eyes.

We all plan trips to the mountains whenever we get a chance, so may be, we can give these village artists a chance and go watch them the next time we make a plan!

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