Folk Dances of Jharkhand – True Essence of Folk Culture


Dances of Jharkhand
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Jharkhand is a kaleidoscopic land of culture. The land is a beautiful coexistence of natural wonders along with the people who inhabit it. Culture of Jharkhand is rich with the influence of different civilizations, various ways of life, traditions, and much more. This article will discuss a particular aspect of Jharkhand’s culture, i.e., folk dances of Jharkhand. Folk dance is a primitive attribute of India, and the different states of India boast about their contribution to India’s vast arena of folk culture.  

Jharkhand houses various tribal groups. The tribals’ way of living is deeply connected with nature. The folk culture of the tribals is one of the main attractions of Jharkhand. The folk songs and folk dances of Jharkhand have a unique history.  

Without further ado, let us find out in detail about the various folk dances of Jharkhand. These dances have their stories and significance that make them a part of the rich folk culture of India.  


Folk Dances of Jharkhand, Jhumair 
Image – Paika Sing / Facebook

Jhumair is one of the most famous folk dances of Jharkhand. The dance is significant for its relation to the harvest season. Jhumair is a popular folk dance celebrating the happy life of the tribal folks of Jharkhand.  

The dance takes place in the formation of a human chain. Men mostly dance, and the dancers themselves sing the melodious tune accompanying the dance. The dancers move along in a circular shape all the time, holding each other’s hands. Jhumair is a treat for the eye. The colorful costumes are bright and enhance the mood of the performance. Musical instruments are also a vital part of the dance. Dhol, Kartal, bansuri, and sangi provide the tune to sway along in this folk dance. 

Jhumair is sometimes performed by women also. When women dance the Jhumair, the name of the folk dance changes to Janani Jhumair, another form of Jhumair is called Mardana Jhumair. This version has a touch of martial arts in its moves. 

Chhau Dance 

Folk Dances of Jharkhand, Chhau Dance 
Image – Wikimedia

Chhau dance is one of the most famous folk dances of India. The dance is renowned for its powerful moves and distinctive mask that is a quintessential part of Chhau. Jharkhand’s neighboring states Odisha and West Bengal, are also famous for indulging in the Chhau dance. 

Chhau dance takes place in an open field, primarily at night time. Etymologically Chhau comes from the Sanskrit word Chhaya which means shadow, image, shade, or mask. The main attraction of the Chhau dance is the mask that the dancers wear during the performance. The performers are both men and women who display strength through their powerful and bold dance moves. The dance dress is colorful, but the mask with its expressive, detailed work takes the spotlight. The different mask represents different characters, even figures of Gods. Chhau is also called nrithya natika, which means dance drama. The highly engaging music, rhythm, and beats accompanying the dance create a dramatic ambiance, especially with the field’s lanterns. The dance often falls in the description of to attack or hunt, adding to its dramatic effect.  

Chhau is a very traditional folk dance of Jharkhand and its neighboring states. The dance is not particular to any festival but is a part of every happy occasion. Different states have specific names for Chhau dance.  


Folk Dances of Jharkhand, Paika 
Image – Kuleshwar Kumar Thakur / Facebook

Paika is a unique dance form that is a combination of martial arts with other local dance steps. It is a dance form that requires male participation.  

The dance is exciting to behold. The dance has a high degree of martial arts that involves a lot of risks. Paikas originally were a group of soldiers serving and protecting the kingdom. The Paika dance is a ceremonial dance in which physical excitement and inner courage highlight the performance. The dancers wear colorful attires with a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. Headgears and chest plates are worn as safety measures. The entire attire of the dancers and the build-up to the performance lead to the ambiance of the preparation of war. The dance steps and the martial arts are a replica of the move soldiers perform on the battlefield.  

The music of this folk dance comes from the instruments of dhak, shehnai, and narsingh. The upbeat music and the bold dance moves are a joy to behold. In present days, Paika performances take place at weddings and during festive seasons. Another significant interpretation of the dance is to welcome special guests and during religious processions. 


Folk Dances of Jharkhand, Domkach  
Image – Bihar_Jharkhand / Facebook

Domakch is a folk dance that is a part of the wedding rituals. Mostly the women take part in this dance while going in the baraat from the bridegroom’s house.  

Domkach is an energetic and happy folk dance. The music accompanying the dance is equally enthusiastic. The women participating in the hop sing themselves. The lyrics of the song are very satirical. They crack jokes while moving around in circles. Both the women and men dress up in their colorful dresses. They all form a semi-circle while holding each other’s hand and sway along to the lively music. This wedding folk dance keeps up the high spirit of the families.  

Domkach is popular in Bihar and Jharkhand. In Bihar, it is popular in Mithila and Bhojpur regions. In Jharkhand, it is also known as the Nagpuri folk dance. 

Karam Dance 

Folk Dances of Jharkhand, Karam Dance 
Image – Wikimedia

Karam dance’s name comes from the sacred tree Kadamba. People believe the Kadamba tree to be the harbinger of prosperity and good luck. 

The Karam dance symbolizes the worship and planting of the Kadamba tree. The dancers, men and women, form a circle with their hands around each other’s waist. They pass a branch of the Kadamba tree while swaying to the rhythm. Once a circle passing the Kadamba branch is complete, they wash the branch with rice and milk. They believe that the branch must not touch the ground after these rituals are done. After one round, they once again start passing the branch amongst themselves.  

People organize the Karam dance in August. The planting of the auspicious tree brings a lot of faith in the people.  

Hunta Dance 

Folk Dances of Jharkhand, Hunta Dance 
Image – Wikimedia

Hunta dance is the hunting dance of the Santhals of the hilly plateaus of the Chotanagpur area. The dance is a symbol of showcasing the strength, unity, and pride of the Santhals. 

Both men and women participate in this dance. They attire themselves in colorful costumes, and they synchronize the color of their dresses, and their dance moves very uniquely. The men wear dhoti and turban, and the women wear their traditional saree. They all accessorize themselves with branches, leaves, and flowers. The Santhals are very close to nature, and their dresses also represent their beliefs. The Hunta dance moves depict the stance of preparing for the hunt.  

The Hunta dance is a representation of the Santhals’ way of living. The dance involves mime, slow and decisive steps, and measured movements, and these features are distinctive of this ancient tribal dance. 

Phagua Dance 

Jharkhand Folk Dances - Phagua Dance 
Image – VikashTorkod Photography / Facebook

Phagua dance is another popular folk dance of Jharkhand, and the dance is an integral part of the festival of Holi.  

The festival of Holi is in itself vivacious. The Phagua dance adds more enthusiasm to the colorful occasion. Only men took part in the dance earlier. In recent times, both men and women have taken part in this dance. The dancers freely move along to the lilting tune of the instruments. Mandar, dhol, and bansi are the main instruments of the Phagua dance. The dancers throw gulaal and colored water at each other.  

The name of the Phagua dance comes from Falgun, the onset of Spring. The festival of Holi, along with the Phagua dance, marks the start of the festive seasons.  

These folk dances of Jharkhand are also popular in its neighboring states. The tribal communities of Jharkhand try to keep the history of their culture alive with these dances. People take part in these dances enthusiastically. Visitors from across the nation and from different countries take a keen interest in these folk dances. Once you witness these dances, it is hard to stop yourself from swaying to the tunes of the instruments and joining hands with the performers. 

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