The people of Himachal Pradesh are known for their love of colors and festivities. Forming a part of these festivities are folk dances of the state, with themes revolving around the scenes from the mythological epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. Folklores and chivalry tales of the local heroes and religious deities are some other themes on which the traditional dances of Himachal Pradesh are based. Though there are a number of dance forms popular in the state, but Chham Dance or 'Dance of Devils', performed in Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur, counts amongst the favorites of the tourists.
Chham dance is splendid dance performed by the Buddhist monks, known as
Lamas, in the courtyard of monasteries during religious and other
festivals, as a part of the celebrations. The dance is known for the
elaborate mask, headgear and costume of the performers and is very
popular in Tibetan settlement areas of Himachal Pradesh, such as Lahaul
& Spiti, Ladakh and Kinnaur.
Lamas of Lahaul-Spiti region perform this devotional dance once in
every three years, on the festival known as Chakhar, as a tribute to
Lord Buddha. 'Chhanak' is the typical headgear worn by the dancers. The
costume is made of golden, black and yellow fabric, adorned with unique
traditional motifs done in patchwork. Dancers cover half of their face
with black cloth and carry swords or knives in their hands. The
movements are slow and circular. The musicians wear traditional dress of
the Lamas, with caps decked with yellow feathers, and play long pipes,
known as 'Tangchim', and drums, known as 'Ghhan.
Dandras is a traditional dance performed by the men of 'Gaddi' tribe
i.e. the nomadic shepherd tribe belonging to the Bharmaur region of the
Chamba district. The dance is performed with small sticks and can last
for hours at a time.
One of the most famous dances of the Kullu Valley, Kullu Nati is
performed during festivals and fairs, especially Dussehra. Dancers clad
in traditional dresses dance along with the procession, on the tunes of
musical instruments such as Narsingha, Karnal, Shehnai, Dhol and Nagara.
Earlier, Natti was performed for several hours and continued till
dancers and orchestra got exhausted. The duration of the dance has been
Lahauli dance is performed on the tunes of the musical instruments of
Ladakh, known as Surna and Damman. The steps are simple but graceful.
For instance, dancers move in a circular pattern after interlocking
their hands. They usually wear long gowns with embroidered borders,
matching jackets and ornaments made of beads and stones.
Losar Shona Chuksam
Losar Shona Chuksam is the folk dance performed in the Kinnaur region,
known for its love of music and dance. The dance has been named after
the festival 'Losar' or New Year. Dhol, bronze cymbals known as Bugjal,
Karnal and Ransingha are the musical instruments on which the dance is
The popular dance form of Nati is performed on a particular rhythm and
beat, which differs from region to region. The popular forms of Nati are
Gaddi Nati, Kullu Nati, Kinnauri Nati, Sirmouri Nati and Shimla Nati.
All the forms of Nati have unique costumes, ornaments, songs and
In the past, Thoda dance was performed as a ritual before the battle.
The performance and the quick movements seem to simulate the incidents
seen during a real battle.