dance forms are highly varied and quite complicated. These dances are
very vital part of the tribal life. It reflects the culture and the
tradition of Himachal. Hardly any festivity here is celebrated without
dancing. Some of the dance forms like Dulshol, Dharveshi, Drodi, Dev
Naritya, Rakshas Nritya, Dangi, Lasa, Nati and Nagas are danced all over
1 The Mala (garland) dance
2 The Demon (Rakshasa) dance
3 Dalshone and Cholamba dances
4 Shan and Shabu dances
5 Keekali and Bhangra
The Mala (garland) dance
The Kayang Mala dance is one of the most popular dance in Himachal. In
this, the dancers are dressed in their traditional finery, weave their
arms together to form a sort of a criss cross pattern in order to appear
like beads in a woven garland. They drink chhang (a rice brew) before
The Demon (Rakshasa) dance
This dance form, from the Kinnaur and nearby areas are redolent of the
historic period. The Kinnaur folk are being compared to deers. The dance
form is performed with demon masks. It represents the attack of the
demons on the crops and their ritual pursuing away by the forces of
good. Chhambha is more or less same to the Punjabi dance Bhangra.
These dance forms are generally organised in areas having dense
population. During their local festivals like Chaitol and Bishu, such a
type of community dancing can be witnessed. In this dance form men and
women hold hands and dance. Their leader is known as Ghure and others
follow in his footsteps.
Dalshone and Cholamba dances
The following dance forms belong to the Ropa valley and in these dances
the pattern formed by the dancers seems to be as coiled serpents. The
Cholamba dance is generally performed when a tiger is killed. The dead
animal's skin is stuffed and a gold ornament is put in his nose. The
remains of the dead is then rotated and people dance around it.
The Nagas Kayang is a dance form which copies the snakes's movement. The
Herki Kayang is faster in rhythm and is generally danced at romantic
occasions. The dance is performed by young men and women.
The Shuna Kayang dance is danced in most of the villages and its rhythm
combines both slow and fast movements. This represents scenes from the
life in the village and the forests.
Shan and Shabu dances
These are 2 most popular dances of the Lahaul valley and are generally
danced at the Buddhist Gompas in the memory of the Buddha. Shan means a
prayer for the Buddha. Dances danced to these prayers are termed as Shan
dances. This is a tribal dance which is performed after the completion
of the harvesting of crops. Some of the instruments played in this are
drums, shehnai and a stringed instrument like a violin.
A similar dance form known as Shabbo is also performed at festivals. It
represents the beliefs and lifestyle of the tribal people of the region.
These dance forms are linked to the local festivals.
Keekali and Bhangra
For more details on this topic, see Bhangra.
The Keekali dance form is a dance of young girls. The girls hold each
others hand crosswise and rotate swiftly on their toes.
The Bhangra is a male dance which was originated in the Punjab and is
quite popular in Kangra, Hamirpur and Una.
The tribal dance forms of the trans Himalayan region differs a lot in
content and music. The old tradition of both song and dance in these
regions has been enthusiastically guarded against urban influence.
Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and Tehsils of Pangi and Bharmour of Chamba
constitute this zone. The inhabitants in these regions are known as
Kinnauras, Lahaulas, Spitians, Pangwals and Gaddis. Gujjars and many of
these tribes have their own distinct traditions of folk dances, songs,
dresses and ornaments.
In addition to the popular dances like Kayang, Bakayang and Banyangchu
there are many ritual dances performed by Lamas on numerous religious
festive occasions. One masked dance form mainly features an important
event in the history of Himalayan Buddhism when Lamas effectively
carried out a plan of executing a king namely Langdarma. A special event
for masked dances is the celebration of the birth of Padma Sambhava (who
carried the message of Buddhism to Tibet.)