India is a land of intriguing diversity. People of diverse faiths, religions and traditions come together famously to form one nation. Traditionally in Indian culture, dance and music are an important part of a man’s life. Dance and songs are a form of celebration of various festivals around the country and are amark of joy and cheer. Songs are created on the smallest of occasions like, from seasons to crop growth, to fishermen and more.
An interesting dance form in India is Tribal Dance. These dances are performed by the tribal clans of the country. The tribals, who are entitled as ‘adivasi’, possess a culture which is different from the pan Indian population. There are several tribal folks in India; each of which possess their own distinguishable dance traditions and customs and inevitably all of these dances are interwoven with the life of the people who perform them. It is important to know that tribal dances of India are vastly distinct from Indian folk dances; the two are individual genres.
India is home to a large tribal population that belongs to diverse races and cultures. The majority of the tribal population inhabits the forests and hilly regions in the country. Each of these tribes is known for its own culture which is distinct from that of others. This not only varies in their socio-economic life but also in religious ceremonies performed by the different tribes.However, the various tribes across the country have a common dance form on the activities of hunting, fishing, food gathering and animal husbandry.
The most important aspects of tribal culture are music and dance. Dance and music are primarily meant to appease Gods and Goddesses. According to tradition among certain tribes, young men can’t find brides unless they acquire special skills in dance and music. On social occasions like a marriage or feasting, there is a dance performance held in a central place of the village or in the communal house, which is attended by almost everyone.
Each tribe possesses its own pattern of dance and music. Some Indian tribes write down their songs which accompany their dances. At times the dancers sing themselves and sometimes the viewers sing and participate while the dancers perform. Special musical instruments are used during the tribal dance performances; however, the drum is a main feature of each dance.
One can see the exuberance and merriment of the tribal way of life, in the tribal dances of plains and the thickly wooded plateaus. The Gonds and Marias of Bastar, Oraons and Santhals of Chotanagpur have a rich heritage of community dancing. Santhali, Gaur and Lava are some of the popular tribal dances of India.
Tribal dances provide an interesting and entertaining view on traditions and customs shared between the tribal folks in our country and provide a thread of continuity between the distant past and the present.