Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Ghoomar- The Mesmerising Spinning Dance of Rajasthan

 Rajasthan, a state in the northern part of India, is known as the cultural capital of the country. Rajasthan has a rich heritage of folk dance, music, art, and architecture. Many of these art forms have survived through ages and are even part of the present Rajasthani culture. 

The word Rajasthan means ‘the abode of kings.’ Rajasthan gets its name from the many Rajput kings who ruled the state before the British rule. For centuries, Rajasthan had been ruled by various Rajput, Maratha and Muslim rulers which eventually contributed to the state’s diverse culture. As a state, Rajasthan is home to numerous tribes like Bhils, Banjaras, Minas, Gadia, Lohar and their indigenous cultures. Rajasthani culture is famous for having a variety of folk dances that are vibrant, attractive, and a great form of entertainment.


                            The Mehrangarh Fort-Jodhpur,Rajasthan

One of the most popular folk dances of Rajasthan is Ghoomar dance. The word Ghoomar comes from the Hindi word ‘ghoomna’ which means spinning around or pirouetting. The dance was originally performed by the Bhil community while worshipping Goddess Sarasvati, the goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and art. Soon after, the Rajput clan Kachwahas, who reigned over Jaipur, defeated the Bhil tribe. After a few years, both the communities came together and agreed to live in harmony with each other. The result was that the royal Rajput clan embraced some of the traditions and practices of the Bhil tribe and Ghoomar dance is one of them. From then on, this dance became associated with royalty.

However, today this dance is performed by most Rajasthani families, irrespective of their royal status. It is performed on special occasions and festivals such as Teej, Holi, Diwali, at the arrival of a newly wedded bride at her marital house and at the onset of the rainy season. Although this dance is now performed throughout the state, the major regions in Rajasthan that are famous for this dance include Udaipur, Jodhpur, Kota and Bundi. The people of each region perform this dance in their own distinct ways. In Udaipur, the dance performance is more musical and a lot of dance steps resemble the garba dance of the neighboring state Gujarat. In Jodhpur, this dance involves intense limb movements while in Kota and Bundi, catchy and melodic tunes accompany this dance form which make the performance more impressive and vibrant.       


Ghoomar, also known as Jhumar, is a joyful dance that is either performed by a group of women wearing a veil on their head and donning traditional outfits, or the dance can also be performed solo. Traditionally in Bhil community, Ghoomar wasn’t just an act of dancing and singing but was meant to be symbolic of femininity. Young girls took part in this dance to make it known to everyone that they are stepping into womanhood. But today, this dance is performed by women of all ages.

The beauty of this dance is in its graceful movements that involve clapping with hands, swaying the hands, snapping of fingers, and spinning around while singing traditional songs. Some famous Ghoomar dance songs are ‘Chirmi Mhari Chirmali’, ‘Aave Hichki’, ‘Ghoomar Re Ghoomar Re’, ‘Mharo Gorband Nakhralo’ etc.  Ghoomar dancers move in a circular pattern with clockwise and anticlockwise steps. In the middle of the performance, the dancers sometimes unite their hands and even clap with their hands.   


The women dancers wear traditional outfits which are ghagra choli and translucent odhni [veils] that cover the face.  Ghagra is basically a long skirt and choli,a blouse with intricate design and heavy mirror and Zari work. The skirts, usually of bright red, pink, yellow and blue colors, are long and flaring which create a kaleidoscope of colors for the spectators and spread happiness and jubilation when all women swirl together. The jewelry accompanied with the traditional dress also plays a big role in the visual of this dance. Silver ornaments, kundan jewelry, colorful bangles and shinning necklaces are all part of the adorning accessories that go towards the decorative look of Ghoomar dresses.



There are different variations of Ghoomar depending on the place or part of Rajasthan. In some places, the dancers perform Ghoomar dance with more than two earthen pots or brass pitchers on their head along with pots of fire held in both hands - a combination of concentration and coinciding movements that makes it a visual treat.  Though Ghoomar is well liked globally, it has been recently popularized through Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone’s dance sequence in the Bollywood movie Padmaavat released in the year 2018. Bollywood too takes pride in representing this folk dance on the big screen.       

Ghoomar dance in Bollywood movie

Owing to its beauty, Ghoomar dance is now performed not only in India but also worldwide in different events to showcase the fascinating, vibrant and mesmerisingly beautiful culture of Rajasthan.    

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