Jammu and Kashmir has few of the most captivating forms of performing arts in India that has captured the imaginations of one and all. These dances have become a non detachable part of this state's culture and are performed at almost all festivals and celebrations. There are special dances for almost all occasions like birth celebrations, wedding ceremonies, crop harvesting.
Be it the dances of J&K or the music, they have this special aura about them that make you feel as a part of the performance even if you are just a spectator watching it in front of your eyes or sitting miles away enjoying it through media. There are many shows organized as well where you can witness the mesmerizing art forms apart from watching them in festive celebrations. This makes Jammu and Kashmir a hot favorite destination among tourists.
Kashmir is famous not only for its scenic beauty but also for its traditional dances. Kashmiri people celebrate their festivities with a number of Kashmiri folk dances. The folk dances and music of the Kashmir valley form an important part of the Kashmiri culture.
The themes of folk songs range from the yearning for reunion with ones lover, the hard mountain life and songs for festivals and other occasions. The people of Ladakh have a rich tradition of dance, music and drama.
The mask dance performed by the lamas at the Hemis monastery, Ladakh for example, during the Hemis festival is representative of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition of the victory of good over evil.
The Hafiza dance form is very popular. This dance form is usually performed at wedding ceremonies. Another very popular Kashmiri dance form that is extremely popular is the Bacha Nagma, which is performed during the harvest season by young boys.
Ruf and Wuegi-nachun are popular Kashmiri folk dances. The Roul and Dogri are popular folk dances that are performed by Kashmiri women.
The most popular Kashmiri folk music is known as the Rabab. The dukra, sitar and nagara are popular musical instruments.
As far as forms of music in Kashmir is concerned there are three distinct forms, viz. Sufi, ghazals and choral music.
One of the most popular traditional dances of Kashmir is Rouf. This beautiful dance form graces all the festive occasions, especially Id and Ramzan days. The dance is performed by a group of women facing each other. The simple footwork of Rouf is both a visual as well as an artistic treat.
This is one of the most famous dance forms that is practiced in J&K. The dance has been a part of Kashmiri life from ancient times. In the capital city, it is pronounced as 'Row' but in villages, it is pronounced as 'Ruf'. This dance is performed as a welcoming dance for the spring season.
You will see most number of performances during the prelude of spring season. The dance is clearly inspired by bee and it is the lovemaking of the bee that is portrayed in the dance. In the dance, two or four groups are formed consisting of 2 to 3 charming women. They stand facing each other and hold the hand of the adjacent partner. The women together sway their feet forward and then to back. The song that is sung during the performance is in the form of question and answer form where one group questionand the other respond to it in a rhythmic way.
Bhand Pather is a traditional folk theatre of Kashmir, usually performed in social and cultural functions. A powerful combination of play and dance, it portrays social traditions and evils, bringing out the satire in them.
Bachha Nagma, also known as 'Bachha gyavaun' means 'adolescent melodious voice. The dance is quite famous among people here and is an important cultural event during marriage ceremonies or any cultural celebrations. The dance is performed only by boys or by men dressed as boys. The attire of the dancers has a resemblance with the dress that is worn by Kathak dancers. The dance group has six to seven members consisting of one lead singer. Generally, the dancers themselves are the singers and since most of them are boys, the songs are quite soft sounding and create a soothing environment.
Hafiza Dance is a type of Kashmir dance, performed at wedding ceremonies.
The Sufiyana Kalam has its own ragas known as Muquam. The prominent instrument used in Hafiz Nagma is called Santoor-a hundred stringed instrument played with sticks. The danseuse in this tradition is known as 'Hafiza'.
Bhand Jashan is another one of the Kashmiri folk dances. It is performed by a group of 10 to 15 artists in their traditional style, along with some light music.
Young boys of Kashmir perform Bacha Nagma dance, particularly during the harvest season. One of the young boys dresses up as a female dancer, performing Hafiza style of dance.
A less popular dance of Kashmir is Wuegi-nachun. It is performed after the marriage ceremony, when the bride has left for her new home. In this dance, Kashmiri pundit women dance around the bridal rangoli (pattern made with colors).