8 Tribal (Adivasi) Dances of India

Far from the maddening crowd of the cities of India, secluding themselves in remote hills and jungles, live the adivasis, the natives of the land. The isolation has given each adivasi tribe a distinct culture, language, dress sense, ornamentation and food habit. One thing that however is common to them all is their way of entertainment through singing and dancing. They dance merrily in groups singing in chorus, playing indigenous instruments. Almost all adivasi groups have their own routine of group dancing. The dancing is mainly footwork, movement in circles and formations. The dance movements often is taken from their daily work, like reaping harvest, sowing seeds, grinding grains, hunting and fighting skills. Singing and dancing for them is often in the evening after a hard day’s work, or occasional, coinciding with marriage, harvesting, full moon day, spring and autumn seasons, religious beliefs and so on.

The melody, footwork and rhythm are the key elements of Adivasi dance. Though the dance forms have minimal facial expressions the collective expression of joy through body movements thrills the audience. The patterned movements of the dancers are varied, from slow and simple body movements to dynamic and rapid movements.

Santhali Dance, West Bengal, Jharkhand & Odisha

The most renowned are the dances of Santhals, the third largest tribe of India, found in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa and Assam. Such is the rhythm of their Tamak, tumda drums that it is bound to touch the deep core of the heart. In the evening, with the flute Tirio playing, the women folk sing and dance in an arc, holding each other’s hand, with a lead drummer at the center. The rustic melody and the rhythm have universal appeal. They dance during Karam festival marking the end of rainy season and Disum sendra festival. The dancing has a boldness reflecting the nature of the Tudus, Murmus, Baskeys, Kore, Marandi, Soren and Hembroms.

Bamboo Dance, Mizoram

The bamboo dance of the Mizo people is also very famous. They wear feather headgears during dancing. With start of the earthly beats, men sitting on the ground both hands holding tightly onto one end of a bamboo each move the bamboos with the rhythm and young girls dance within the checkers i