Punjab has a very rich tradition of dances, particularly the folk ones. The exuberance and vitality of its people are vigorously displayed in their folk dances. These dances are full of expressions, gestures, vocal remarks, subtleties of motion and unrestricted freedom. They are full of energy and reflect the dynamism of the Punjabis. A unique aspect of Punjab dances is that there is no common dance for men and women. Rather, they have their own separate dances, which can be combined together for a typical performance.
Punjabi Folk Dances
Bhangra is the most popular folk dance of Punjab. It represents the liveliness and dynamism of its people. The dance mainly involves men, who perform to the fast beats of drum and music. Originally performed on the Baisakhi festival, the harvest festival of Punjab, bhangra is done at every single festive occasion today. More
Giddha is a popular folk dance of Punjab, performed by the women of the region. It bears much similarity to the bhangra dance, which is performed by the men in the state. The dancers enact verses called bolis, which is a representation of folk poetry at its best. More
Originally from Sandalbar (now in Pakistan), Jhumar is now very much a part of Punjabi folk heritage. It is a typical male dance, which is performed during festivals and on other celebrations. The dance is performed in a circle, with a man beating the drum inside it, producing the tune of emotional songs. Jhumar dance is without acrobatics. The movement of only the arms is considered its main forte. Toes are musically placed in front and backwards and turns are taken to the right. Sometimes, the dancers place one of their hands below the ribs, on the left and gesticulate with the right hand. Its costumes are akin to bhangra.
Luddi is a male dance, performed to commemorate victory, which is recognized by the swaying movements of the head. The dancers place one hand at the back and another in front of the face; the body movement is snake-like. Head movement is an important part of the dance. The costume for the dance consists of a loose shirt and a loincloth. Some dancers tie a turban, while others wear a patka, which is somewhat like a scarf tied across the forehead. There are still others, who join in bareheaded.
Julli is a religious dance, associated with pirs and recluses. It is generally danced in their hermitages (khangahs). Sometimes, it is also danced around the grave of a preceptor. This dance is performed mostly in a sitting posture, with the toes tensed. A single dancer can also perform this dance. The dancer holds a thick staff in his hands and dances by revolving it. Normally black clothes are worn by the dancer and the head is covered with a black scarf. Sometimes, the dancers also the tie ghungroos (jingling bells) around their waists, just like the bhangra dancers of yore.
This folk dance is very similar to bhangra and is performed by a group of men, in a circle. Drum is used as the accompanying instrument and its costumes are akin to Bhangra and Jhuma.
Sammi is the traditional dance of the women of Sandalbar region, now in Pakistan. The dancers are dressed in bright colored kurtas and full flowing skirts, called lehengas. A peculiar silver hair ornament is associated with this dance. The dancers’ hair is knitted in plaits and in the middle of the head is a domed ornament, shaped like an inverted lotus. It called phul-chowk or suggiphul. The dance is almost similar to Giddha, where the prominent gesture is confined to the movement of arms.
Literally, "jaago” means "wake up”. This dance is performed in a girl's wedding. On the night before the wedding, girls dance through the village streets, carrying a pot (gaggar) decorated with lightened candles and singing jaagu songs. The theme of songs is social and typically, a bit of teasing (often aimed at elders) goes with the song.
Giddha can be seen at the best during the 'teeyan’ festival. During this festival, the married girls come to their parents’ house and dance to the beats of drum. The dance usually takes place on the bank of some river or pond, under big shady trees.
This is a dance of celebration, where two men, each holding colorful staves, dance round each other and tap their sticks together, to the rhythm of drums. This dance is often performed during marriages.
Kikli is performed by women in pairs, who cross their arms, hold each other's hands and whirl around, singing folk songs. Sometimes, four girls join hands to perform this dance. The girls sing as they swirl around, with colorful "dupattas” flowing from their heads.
Gatka is a Sikh martial art, in which people use swords, sticks and daggers. People believe that Guru Hargobind Sahib started the art of Gatka, after the martyrdom of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev. Wherever there is a large Khalsa Sikh population, Gatka is performed. This dance is usually performed during special festivals, such as Baisakhi and Gurpurb.