India is a country dominated by exotic culture and heritage. Almost every part of India takes pride in their respective charm of traditional customs. North East India comprising of the states of Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Sikkim, is also not an exception. Together they host some of the most popular folk and tribal dances of India. In this article, I will discuss the renowned tribal dances of North East India; fostering a sense of unity and bonding.
The tribal dances of North East India are performed mainly in groups during festivals, religious and family gatherings. The dancers perform with great fun and frolic. The synchronization and bonding among the performers are worthy of appreciation and accolades; each portraying a unique value.
Tribal Dances of Arunachal Pradesh
Tribal dance and music accompany almost all the festivals of the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Both men and women participate in huge numbers with great enthusiasm and enjoyment. The most beautiful dance of the place is “Bardo Chham”. The performers wear masks of animals or demons in this dance form. Almost 12 different animal masks are used by the performers. The key objective of the dance is to eliminate evil from the world and enlighten the lives of human beings with harmony and goodwill. The dance is popular among the Sherdukpen tribes. The dancers wear brightly colored attires and dance skillfully in groups. The tales of Lord Buddha are depicted through the dance form.
“Wancho Dance” is another popular dance of the state. It is also performed by both men and women. The dance is popular among the Wancho tribe. Men sway their swords as part of their performance; singing along with the dance.
The third most popular dance form of the state is “Buiya Dance”; one of the best tribal dances of North East India. But the dance is performed mainly by the womenfolk. The men are mostly involved in playing cymbals and drums. The dance form is popular among the Digaru Mishmis tribes.
There are four other tribal dances in Arunachal Pradesh, namely the Aji Lamu dance performed by the Monpa tribe, Chalo dance performed by the Nocte tribe, Hiirii Khaniing dance performed by the Apatani tribe, and the Ponung dance performed by the Adi tribe.
Tribal Dances of Assam
Be it festivals or religious gatherings, the Assamese people of all genders and ages form groups to sing and dance with the rhythmic beats of pipes and drums. “Ojapali” is the most ancient dance form of Assam. The key performer of the dance is called Oja. Through the dance form, numerous stories of Hindu mythology are enacted.
“Bagurumba” is one of the popular tribal dances of North East India and especially Assam. It is mainly performed by the Bodo tribes and the womenfolk. Song and music accompany the dance, depicting stories of plants, animals, insects, and other natural constituents like air, water, wind, and rain.
“Jhumur” is another traditional dance of Assam. The dance form is mainly performed by the tribes working in the different tea estates of Assam. The women folk place their hands at each other's back and move synchronously in a rhythmic motion. It is said to re-energize and renew the motivational level of the tribal workers.
Tribal Dances of Meghalaya
Meghalaya, the Scotland of the East, is embellished by nature's intriguing beauty. Coupled with its tribal dances, the charm of the state is further enhanced and elevated.
The “Nongkrem Dance” is one of the stunning and energetic performances by the tribes of Meghalaya. The tribes mostly reside in the adjacent Khasi Hills. The dance form is performed by both the men and the womenfolk. It generates a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm among the performers. The dance is mainly performed during the autumn season to celebrate the rich harvest.
The “Laho Dance” is another spectacular dance form that has gained prominence among the Pnar tribes. It is also performed by both men and women. The men stand at the sides and the women in between during the performance.
“Wangala Dance” is a dance form, popular among the Garo tribes of Meghalaya.
“Shad Suk Mynsiem” is a popular dance festival in Meghalaya. Men and women (especially unmarried girls) perform the dance in groups.
Tribal Dances of Tripura
The state of Tripura is especially prominent for hosting exclusive dance forms performed by the different tribal communities. The unique among them is the “Hojagiri Dance” performed by women and girls. The dance is popular among the Reang community. The dancers balance lighted earthen lamps on their heads while standing on a clay pitcher. It is praiseworthy to watch the incredible balancing abilities of the performers. The men play different types of musical instruments to accompany the women. The dance is mainly performed during Dussehra, Durga Puja, and Laxmi Puja.
The “Bizu Dance” and the “Hai-Hak Dance” are two other popular dance forms of the state, performed by the Chakma and Halam communities. “Basanta Raas” is also another fascinating dance performed by the Hindu Manipuris.
Tribal Dances of Manipur
Manipur is phenomenal in hosting innumerable varieties of entertaining music and dance forms. The most popular dance is the “Dhol Cholom” where the key musical instrument is the drum. It is performed by the menfolk, who demonstrate gymnastic stunts as they play the drums. The dance is usually conducted during Holi.
Tribal Dances of Mizoram
In Mizoram, the dances are majorly performed during festivals or any religious ceremonies. Both men and women folk participate in the dances in groups. The dances and songs are accompanied by the beats of traditional musical instruments like the drums and the gongs.
“Bamboo Dance” is the most popular dance form in Mizoram. The men sit and move bamboo staves vertically and horizontally. While the women dance in between them, balancing between the staves. It is a stunning experience to watch the expertise of the performers and their immense concentration.
There are two other dance forms in Mizoram, the “Chawnglaizawn Dance” and “Zangtalam Dance” performed by the Pawi tribe and Paite tribe respectively.
Tribal Dances of Nagaland
In Nagaland, the dances are mostly filled with liveliness and vigor. The local tribes are full of zeal and enthusiasm. The distinct feature of the dances from Nagaland is the exclusive movement of the legs.
“Chang Lo” is the most prominent dance form of the state; performed to symbolize the victory of warriors over enemies. The dresses worn by the dancers portray the warriors, demonstrating the different war strategies and movements. The dances are conducted during the Poanglem festival. The women folk also participate in the dance wearing bright and attractive costumes.
There are other dances performed by the Lotha Naga tribe and the Khiamniungan tribe. “Jamhang Tsouthong Dance” is another significant tribal dance of Nagaland, performed by the Khiamniungan tribe.
Tribal Dances of Sikkim
In Sikkim, the dances and songs signify the sensational beauty of Mother Nature and its breathtaking mystic charm. Many of their dances are performed to celebrate the rich harvest.
The popular dance of Sikkim is “Maruni”. Both men and women participate in this dance, performed mainly during weddings. The clown known as Dharu Warray performs various funny and entertaining acts to amuse the audience during the dance. The dance had been initially started in Nepal and is now being followed in Sikkim. It is accompanied by the beats of 9 different traditional musical instruments.
The tribal dances of North East India reflect the old traditions and rich culture of the tribes. It also portrays the unity and rich bonding between the people.
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