Fascinating Facts About Indian Culture

India, the land of diversity and contrasts boasts of one of the richest Asian cultures in history. In this post, our cultural gurus at term paper help will explore some of the rich cultural components that constitute the Indian subcontinent. The exploration will cover all the main areas of Indian life such as food, festivals, religion, interpersonal relations, and music. Remain with this post to learn what you don’t know about this Asian giant.

Fascinating Facts About Indian Culture
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  • Did you know that Indian people are among of the most welcoming in the world? In its culture, Indians believe that visitors are “gods” and you should take care of them irrespective of whether they are your family members or not.
  • Did you know that India is the original home of Hinduism and Buddhism? About 84% of the country’s inhabitants are Hindus while Islam claims to have about 13 percent of the country’s population. Given that India has over a billion inhabitants, the country has about 130 million people who subscribe to Islam, making it one of the largest Islamic countries in the world. This means that over 10 percent of Muslims around here.
  • Indians are very rich in architectural works and arts. One of the most popular examples of this genius is the Taj Mahal. This edifice was constructed by one of India’s emperors called Shah Jahan. He constructed it to honor his wife after whom the structure is named.
  • In dressing issues, women love donning in color-rich silk saris. Inversely, their male counterparts love donning in dhotis.
  • Regarding cultural and religious festivals, the equation is never complete without Diwali. This feast is the most significant in the Indian calendar besides being the largest and most popular. This festival lasts for five days and it is marked by lights that are meant to symbolize the inner “light” that proceeds from spiritual darkness. Another popular celebration is Holi, which is dedicated to the celebration of colors. It is also known as the celebration of love, and Indians celebrate it during spring.
  • Unlike in the West, Indians have a very deep respect for the elders. They honor their seniors and elders because they are the heads of families. They also venerate them as sources of blessings and that is why they touch their feet to tap into those blessings.
  • Besides just honoring seniors and elders in the society, it emphasizes mutual honor among member of the society. It emphasizes respect each other irrespective of their social class, gender, or beliefs.
  • Indian culture is also rich in delicious food. The cuisine is marked by various regional styles and hot herbs and spices. Some of the main components of this country’s food are lamb, goat, chicken, and fish.
  • The culture also teaches its people to assist those in problems. Indians are trained to be compassionate to others right from their early childhood as a means of multiplying happiness and joy.

You are now up to date with India culture. We hope you will know what to expect the day you visit the land of contrasts and diversity.

6 Gift ideas for your loving brother on Diwali

Diwali is the special occasion which is celebrated with great enthusiasm by people in India and abroad. Exchanging sweets and gift items with your loved ones is a special tradition of this auspicious festival and is being practiced from a long time. It is a wonderful way to build and strengthen your mutual relationship with your dear ones. On this upcoming Diwali on 19th October 2017, let us offer some amazing Deepawali gift ideas for your adorable brother.

6 Gift ideas for your loving brother on Diwali

Let him gorge on chocolates and delicacies- If your brother has a secret indulgence with chocolates and other delicacies, it is time to offer a sweet treat to his taste buds on the occasion of Diwali. You can easily buy special Diwali gift packs consisting of mouth-watering chocolates and other delicacies that can make the occasion really joyful for your loving brother.

Buy his favourite video game CD- For your addicted video game freak brother, a gift of his favourite video game CD will be an ideal Diwali gift that can easily get you huge appreciation. Apart from this, if your budget is flexible, you can further think about gifting him latest video gaming console such as PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360 and others for a perfect Diwali celebration.

Invest in a pair of sunglasses or goggles- Sunglasses or goggles have become an important part of male and female accessories. In order to redefine the personality of your beloved brother, offer him a pair of stylish sunglasses or goggles that can protect his eyes as well as add grace to his overall personality.

Go for a black or white shirt- There are certain clothing items that need to be the indispensable part of a man’s wardrobe and a black or white shirt is one among them. Buy a plain white or black shirt for your adorable brother that can easily make him the centre stage of any special occasion or event. It is time to visit your local marketplace or online gifting store to buy amazing Diwali gifts for family and strengthen your mutual bonding to a completely new level.

A mobile case cover for his iPhone- If you are short of Deepawali gift ideas for your brother, it would be a wonderful decision to buy a stylish mobile case cover for his iPhone. This may sound to be a small gift but it has the ability to capture the instant attention of your brother.

Buy leather accessories for him- As a special Diwali gift for your brother, you can buy a wonderful leather wallet, belt or any other accessories that can be utilised by him for a long time. This will certainly emerge as a special gift choice for your beloved brother on the occasion of Diwali.

So, spend a little time in any offline or online gifting store and buy amazing Diwali gifts for family members as a special token of love and affection.

Lavani – The Regional Folk Dance of Maharashtra

Maharashtra is third largest State of India by area and is the second most populous sub-national entity in the world after Uttar Pradesh. The importance of the state does not only lay in its area and population but it also has a great culture and history which influences the nation. The state is known for its business capital “Mumbai”, its cuisine, its attire, its literature, its film and theater and its music and “Dance”.

Lavani
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Lavani – The Regional Folk Dance of Maharashtra

The folk dance of Maharashtra which has influenced the Marathi theater and films (including Bollywood) is – Lavani.

History

Lavani means “beauty” and is a folk dance performed by women, on the beats of “Dholki”. It is mostly performed in the states of Maharashtra, North Karnataka, and southern Madhya Pradesh. During the 18th and 19th century when Maharashtra was facing a lot of battle Lavani was performed to entertain the soldiers and boost their morale.

Lavani History

It became paramount during the later stages of the “Peshwa Ruling”. It has two categories namely –‘Nirguni Lavani’ (the philosophical genre) and ‘Shringari Lavani’ (Sensual genre). It is also categorized into – “Phadachi Lavani”, when it is performed before a large audience in a theater, and “Baithakichi Lavani” when it is performed privately for a select audience.


-: OTHER ARTICLES ON REGIONAL DANCE FORMS OF OTHER STATES :-

Kathak  |  Bharatnatyam  |  Odissi  |  Giddha


The Dance and Costume

The female dancers wear “Sari” wrapped in an unconventional manner yet comfortable for them. The Sari is called “Navvari”. Accessories worn are bangles, kamarpatta (worn around the waist), a heavy necklace and a super heavy “Ghungroo” in their feet. The hairs are tied in a bunch or bun called “Juda” or “Ambada”, in Marathi. A large red coloured round “Bindi” is put on the forehead which is distinctive of their makeup.

Lavani Costume
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The songs sung in Lavani are enacted in a dramatic manner and the songs are on various topics. Usually, the singing is a mix of narration and speech and is naughty and erotic in nature. The songs may vary from a man-woman love relationship, husband-wife conversation, social issues, society, religion, politics, beautiful women etc. Sometimes a male member called the “Nats” also performs with the female lead.

The Evolution

From being staged during “Peshwas” rule as a motivating dance, to catchy Bollywood numbers of today, Lavani has come a long way. The folk dance saw a lot of change when different poets and singers like – Parasharam, Ram Joshi, Anant Fandi, Saganbhau and Annabhau Sathe significantly contributed. Honaji Bala even replaced the “Dholki” with “Tabla”. They took this folk dance form to new heights.

Evolution of Lavani
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From been performed on songs which were erotic and explicit and performed only by specific caste women, to catchy Bollywood item numbers performed by leading actresses of the Film industry, Lavani has evolved over the times. Books are being published on the dance form highlighting the state of the dancers performing and the social stigma once attached to it. From being in the Sangeet Baris only to be integrated into folk “Tamasha” form; it’s been re-inventing itself. But Lavani is written every year on different aspects and is performed equally with that power and energy as it used to be years ago.

Watch Katrina Kaif performing Lavani

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Giddha – The Regional Folk Dance of Punjab

India is famous for the Unity it has. Different states with vast culture great history and heritage still we stand united, strong as a nation. Our culture has a unique touch of bringing people, from all walks of lives, together. It’s like the Sunlight which has seven colors yet remains as a single entity. Talking or thinking of color immediately takes you to the northern Indian state – Punjab, the state full of bright colors, flamboyance, fun, vibrancy, energy, flavor, rhythm, and dance. The folk dances of Punjab are so famous that they have become the mainstream or national dance of the country – “Bhangra” and “Giddha”.

Giddha
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Giddha – The Folk Dance of Punjab

The dance form is the counterpart of the male version dance called “Bhangra”. Though the historians say that it originated in the form of “Ring Dance”, today’s Giddha is much more colorful and is more energetic. It is a “females only” dance and is performed in any occasion. Rather it would be better to state that it is so powerful and fun-filled that it itself creates an occasion.

Dress

Females wear rich, colorful, embroidery “Salwaar” (loose and roomy pants) and “Kameez” (Shirts) with “Dupatta” (drape or Scarf). Nowadays in place of Salwaar Kameez ladies also wear “Lehenga” (long Skirts) and “Choli” (Blouse). Sometimes Salwaar is replaced with “Shararas”.  They also wear, ‘Pazabis’ (anklets), ‘Rani-Haar’ (a long gold necklace), ‘Bazu-Band’ (worn around upper arm), ‘Haar-Hamela’ (golden necklace with gems) and ‘Suggi-Phul’ (worn oh head).

Giddha Dress
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The feminine grace is presented in this dance form and is very visible with the kind of accessories they wear. The bangles, tika, jhumka, nath and the traditional handcrafted, colourful hanging they tie in their hairs called “Parandi”. In fact “Parandi” is most important accessory they will wear and showcase.


-: OTHER ARTICLES ON REGIONAL DANCE FORMS OF OTHER STATES :-

Kathak  |  Bharatnatyam  |  Odissi  |  Manipuri   |  Lavani


Instruments

Ladies form a big circle and perform the dance. One of the dancers sits in the center of the circle with a ‘Dholki’ (Drum). There is no other musical instrument which is used yet the songs sung by the ladies and the use of unique hand-claps with lyrics (words) called “Boli” makes it fun filled and catchy.

Boli and Moves

The dance is vigorous in moves but has no particular style or pattern. While dancing one of the dancers moves into the circle and performs her steps and then goes back to her position and this is replicated by each and every dancer one by one. The essence of Giddha lies in the shaking, swinging, twisting of the body and shoulders. The dance steps are synchronized with the lyrics called “Boli”. These are normally enacted messages from folk poetry, relationships, husband and wife teasers, love affairs, the loneliness of a bride, social messages, and even political issues. The distinctive clapping, a mix of single, double, and triple clapping, keeps on going in the background non-stop and makes it the distinguishing factor.

Giddha Dance
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This folk dance has become so famous that “Bollywood” movies have been using them in their dance numbers since ages. It is not only famous in India but also has an international presence. There are many professionals who take classes and train you on this dance form. Some even believe that it can be used as therapy as the clapping can be co-related with acupressure.

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Bihu – The Regional Folk Dance of Assam

India is a country full of cultural diversity and that’s all because of the people who live here with different cultures. People follow different religions, speak different languages, wear colourful costumes, and have different food. Important parts of our tradition are our festivals and the way we celebrate them. Festival celebrations are marked with folk dances and their history. India has 25 states and has around 100 folk dances. There are few which are so famous now that they are performed and enjoyed the world over. One of the famous folk dances which symbolize of the completion of “Harvest” is – Bihu.

Bihu Dance
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Bihu – The Folk Dance of Assam

Bihu is a folk dance from the state of Assam. The Bihu festival is celebrated near the month of April. Though the history or the origin the dance is not very clear it is said that it all started when King Rudra Singha invited dancers to perform in Bihu festival. The dance is performed by young men and women on local music and wears a bright colorful dress. The dancers perform swift steps on the tunes of music played by drummers called “dhulia”.


-: REGIONAL DANCE FORMS OF OTHER STATES : –

Bharatnatyam | Kathak | Kathakali | Kuchipudi | Lavani


The Dance

It’s a group dance performed normally in open and is started by men and the “dhulians”. They dance in specific patterns and circles and start mingling with the females when they enter the circle or the patterns. They use brisk movements of the wrist, hands, hips, arms, and squats.  The dance steps can be of long duration with different speeds.

Bihu Dance Assam
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The steps can become fast with a slow and steady increase of music and beat of “dhol’. The music played is a typical Bihu music and are normally based on Assamese New Year, the daily life of a farmer or the history of Assam. In addition to the twin-faced “Dhol”, flutes made of Bamboo, cymbal, a bamboo clapper and a bamboo musical instrument called “Toka Xutuli” are also played during the dance.

The Attire

The attire worn by the men are simple thin cloth worn around the waist to cover the lower part of the body called “Dhoti”. Another simple piece of cloth is worn as the headgear called the “Gamocha”. Though both the dresses are simple yet they are bright in color and full of embroidery. The women wear a blouse and cover the upper part of the body with a drape called “Chador”. They wear cylindrical shape attire around the waist called “Mekhela”. In addition, ladies wear traditional jewelry and decorate their heads with flowers. The fabrics used in both male and female attires are either cotton, silk or pat silk.

Bihu
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One of the four folk dances (Jhumur Dance, Bagurumba, Ali Ai Ligang and Bihu) of Assam, Bihu is the most famous because of its elegance, energy, and rhythm. Bihu is so very famous that we can now see its presence in international arenas. Bihu was performed in London Olympics in the year 2012. Dayton International Festival 2015 also saw professional Bihu dancers dancing gracefully and carrying forward the Assamese cultural diversity to international levels. The state of Assam now is just not famous for its wildlife, its Tea, its scenic beauty, its archaeological importance but is also for its people and their dance – “Bihu”.

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Kuchipudi : Dance-Drama Performance Art of Andhra Pradesh

Kuchipudi  is a popular Dance-Drama Performance art of Andhra Pradesh. The word Kuchipudi is derived from the name Kuchelapuram, a village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. “Kusilara” in Sanskrit means a travelling bard or a dancer. Most of the Indian classical dance forms are very ancient and have evolved from dancing rituals at the temples. Kuchipudi involves story telling of Gods and Goddesses. Kuchipudi is one of the eight dance forms recognized by “Sahitya Natak Academy”.

Kuchipudi
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Kuchipudi : Andhra Pradesh’s Dance-Drama Performance Art

History

Kuchipudi is described in the ancient text of Natya Shastra written by Bharat Muni, who is considered as the father of Indian theatrical art forms. The dance – drama performance arts was adopted by Bhakti tradition of Vaishnavism which grew in the second millennium and the devotees were called Bhagvatees in Andhra. This performing art later evolved into Kuchipudi.

Kuchipudi History
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According to Manohar Vardpande, Kuchipudi emerged in the 13th century by Ganga rulers who were patrons of performing arts based on Gita Govinda by Jaidev. The modern version attributes to its origin by Tirtha Narayanayati and his disciple Sidhyendra Yogi. Narayanayati is said to present Kuchipudi in Tanjore temple. The “All India Dance Seminar” held by- “Sangeet Natak Academy” in 1958; put Kuchipudi on the national stage.


-: RELATED ARTICLES :-

Dandiya Raas   |   Bharatnatyam   |   Manipuri   |   Bihu    |  Lavani


About the Dance / Repertoire

Kuchipudi is a team performance involving extensive stage movement. Here the drama is mimed by the gestures (mudras) of hands, eyes and face movement. Traditionally it was performed by men who moved from places to places and performances were given near by the temples. Today females have outnumbered the males in this dance form. The repertoire of Kuchipudi follows three categories of performance – Nritta, Nritya and Natyam. Nritta – aims to attract the senses of the audience, Nritya – communicates feelings and storyline with spiritual themes. Natyam – It is a play.

Kuchipudi Repertoire
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Kuchipudi is traditionally performed at night after the rural families come from their fields and are free from work. It has been performed in or near a temple. The dance begins with the invocation of Lord Ganesh or other deities or one’s own guru.

Costumes

A male dancer wears Angivastra, female dancer wears Sari with pleated fall stitched in front. Jewellery includes ornaments of hair, ear, nose, waistband, armlets, necklace and ghungroo.

Kuchipudi Costumes
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The forehead is adorned by   round “Bindi” or “Tilaka” and they have elongated eyes with the elaborate hairstyle. Flowers are used to decorating long plaits. Some special Kuchipudi plays may have unusual costumes and other props.

Musical Instruments

Kuchipudi is performed to classical Carnatic music. The orchestration includes mainly “Mridangam”, a clarinet and Violin. The performance is led by the conductor who is in charge of the cymbals and also recites the musical syllabus. The conductor of the performance is present throughout. First, he introduces each actor who performs a short dance called “Pravesadam” accompanied by musicians and vocalist.  After the introduction, the “Nritta” part or pure dance starts. Thereafter “Nritya” the expressive part or abhinaya begins. The dancer uses the hand mudras and expression to communicate the storyline. Kavutums are a distinctive feature of Kuchipudi where the dancer does some acrobatics for a –balancing of pots on the head along with burning lamps on both hands.

Kuchipudi Musical Instruments

Famous dancers like Ragini Devi (originally Esther Sherman) and her daughter Indrani Bajpai have been amongst a few to save and preserve this dance form. Yamini Krishnamurti too took Kuchipudi to another level. Kuchipudi performance has now spread throughout the world.

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Dandiya Raas – The traditional Folk Dance form of Gujarat

Dandiya is a popular folk dance form of Indian State of Gujarat. It was originated in Vrindavan and is performed to depict the scenes of the festival of “Holi” and “Raas Lila” between Radha and Krishna. Dandiya is famous for not only the steps of dance but also for the colourful attires and the “Colourful Sticks”. Sticks are made of bamboo which is beautifully decorated and is striked alternately to the left and right on the tunes of the music that is being played. It is often confused with Garba. Garba is performed with hand and feet movement whereas Dandiya is played with sticks.

Dandiya Raas
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Dandiya Raas – Gujrat’s traditional folk dance form

Dandiya is an energetic folk dance which involves male and female dancers in large groups, providing an opportunity for acting and exchanging messages through eyes. It is also called stick dance. The dance is fast paced with the occasional presence of a drummer with “meddale” in the center of the circle, leading the dance in rhythm. While the days are devotion full, the nights are vibrant and festive. The state government organizes Dandiya nights for the entertainment of people.

History

Traditionally Dandiya is performed after the Aarti of goddess Durga. It is the dramatized presentation of the fight between Durga and Demon King- Mahisasur. She rode on the lion and fought with Mahisasur (who was invincible and caused grave destruction and terror), for nine long days and night and on the tenth day she triumphed.

Dandiya Raas, Gujarat
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Those nine days are celebrated as Navratra and tenth day as vijayadashmi. The first day is marked by Garba circles around the erected shrine of the goddess. The shrine includes a Garbo, an earthen pot in which beetle nut, coconut, and a silver coin are placed.


-: RELATED ARTICLES :-

Bharatnatyam   |   Odissi   |   Manipuri   |   Kuchipudi   |  Bihu


The Dance & Costumes

Dandiya is a folk dance of Gujarat where men and women dress in colorful costumes and dance to the beat of drum/dhol. This is performed during the Navratri festival in October. Young people form two circles and move around an imaginary circle in clockwise, anti-clockwise and diagonal directions with sticks in their hands called “Daandiyas”.

Dandiya in Navratri
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Women wear “Chaniya Choli” – traditional three piece attire comprising of Lehenga Choli and dupatta. This dress is characterized by embroidery and mirror work done all over it. This is teamed together with big neck pieces, earrings, baju band (armlets), kamarband, maang tika, and jootis. The men, on the other hand, wear short kurti – “Kediyu” with kafni pajamas, with colourful turbans on their heads and mojri / Nagra in feet.

Dandiya
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Dandiya was originally performed by men with long sticks in their hands. The sticks represent the swords. This dance with the fast movement was for practicing footwork for sword fighting. Dandiya also celebrates the agricultural cycle of the region. The modern day Daandiya is a fusion of Dandiya and Garba which is not only famous in India but all over the world right from USA, UK, Canada and Toronto. Today it is done at a professional level where the dance steps are choreographed in dance classes and youth love dancing on Bollywood numbers. Navratri in Gujarat is not just a Dandiya night but also worshipping of goddess Durga. People visit shrines and also worship at home.

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Odissi : The legendary Dance Form of Orissa

Odissi is an Indian classical dance form, which originated in Orissa in India. The history of the dance form is traced back to the days of Bharata Muni, who in his text Natya Shashtra, mentions about this dance form. It can be then roughly estimated to be around 200 BCE-200 CE that the origin of Odissi can be found.

Odissi
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However, apart from this, the evidence of the presence of the dance form in history can be seen in the sculptures present in the various archaeological sites in Orissa. As represented in these sculptures, the dance form is an expression of love, passion, and desire and often performed religious stories and spiritual ideas talking about the human-divine connection. Earlier, in the beginning, these performances were done by women, and in fact, Odissi has its origin in the Devadasi tradition.

Odissi : The legendary Dance Form of Orissa

Let us first know about the development of Odissi.

Development of Odissi

But, with the passage of time, this dance form saw some developments which brought about changes in its structure. These were encapsulated within the three schools of Odissi dance, which were namely Mahari, Nartaki and Gotipau. The Mahari tradition has its roots in the devadasi tradition. Nartaki was the developed dance form which took place in the royal courts. And The Gotipau tradition includes young boys dressing up as women and performing women roles. The most important feature of this dance form is tribhangi. It means the division of the body into three expressive parts- head, bust, and torso.

Odissi Dance
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It is a distinguishing feature of this dance form which aims at audience engagement with rhythmic musical resonance. Odissi is a performative art which includes performances based on religious narratives and myths found in the Hindu scriptures. They are usually tales of love and passion and are performed through the use of symbolic costumes and body movement, which includes Abhinaya (facial expression) and Mudras (hand gestures or sign language). The five key elements of the structure of the dance form are basically invocation, nritta (pure dance), nritya (expressive dance), natya (drama) and moksha (the climax expressing the freedom of the soul).


-: RELATED ARTICLES :-

Dandiya Raas – Traditional folk dance of Gujarat    |   Kuchipudi   |   Bihu


Challenges and Re-emergence

The dance form, however, faced a history of violence: during the Muslim rule, almost every Indian traditional art form faced an attack from the plunderers; and later in the British rule, Odissi was seen as defamatory to art with its women dancers, who were considered as prostitutes. As this art form was performed mostly around temples, during British rule, the dancers were seen as idol worshipping prostitutes and were banned from performing such rituals in front of the temple.

Odissi Dance Form
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The anti-dance movement of 1892 launched by the Christian missionaries is a clear example of the status of degraded art form Odissi received in the past. Yet, it thrived and witnessed a revival in the 20th century which saw famous practitioners of this dance form who took it to a different level. Some of its leading practitioners were Guru Deba Prasad Das, Guru Kelu Charan, and Guru Mahadev Rout, to name a few. They, with their earnest devotion to this dance form, helped to promote Odissi with its artistic elegance to the world and helped revive this age old tradition of expressive devotion to the Gods through dance and music.

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Manipuri : The Classical Dance of Manipur

The classical dance form of the north-eastern state of Manipur, India, is known as Manipuri. The cultural dance form springs from an exciting history and forms a vital component of Manipuri culture as a whole. Though its performance in terms of theme is very varied, but religious and devotional themes are very much in dominance. The term Manipuri actually acts as an umbrella terms for a variety of dance forms presented across Manipur. Raslila and Pung Cholom are the dominant dance forms of the Manipuri dance style.

Manipuri Dance
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Also See : Top 5 Classical Dance Forms in India

Manipuri : The pride of Manipur

Let us first know about the history of Manipuri.

History

In the second century the great patron, King Khuyoi Tompok who is famous for his taste in arts and aesthetics is credited to have developed Manipuri as a dance form. But the present form of Manipuri seems to have developed after the influence of the cult of Vaishnavism around 15th century AD. Since then a number of kings including King Kyamba, Khagemba, and Chairairangaba, are said to have facilitated the dance form to acquire its contemporary relevance.

Manipuri
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However, it was only under the King Bhagyachandra in the 18th century that a real appreciation of Manipuri dance styles could finally happen.


-: RELATED ARTICLES :-

Dandiya Raas   |   Odissi    |   Kuchipudi    |   Bihu


Styles and Forms

Manipuri comprises of many sub-dance forms and styles each with its own distinct set of moves and styles. Some of the famous forms are the Pung Cholom, Ras Lila, Thoibi and Nupa Cholom. Ras Lila is basically performed in devotion to Krishna and enacts themes related to the relation between Krishna and the Gopis. The performance of Raslila happens in a special place known as the Nat Mandap.

Raas Leela Dance Style, Manipuri
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Another very popular form is Pung cholam which is basically a dance form presented as a prelude to Raslila. The special attraction of this dance form lies in the use of Manipuri Mridang, a drum particularly designed for the enactment of this dance. Both women and men participate along with some acrobatic stunts to provide excitement to the spectators.

Another important dance form related to one of the dominant tribes in Manipur is the Maibi dance of the Maitie tribe. This mysterious dance form embodies the cosmogony of the Meiti tribe. Apart from these, dance forms like Khamba Thoibi are famous for their enactment of the love affairs between two hostile tribes.

Music

Music forms the essential component of Manipur dance styles. Unlike the north or south Indian classical dance form where music instruments are secondary to the dance, Manipuri tradition places them as par with the dance form. Instruments like Manipuri Mridang, Pung, and Kartal etc. are used by the dancers themselves. Bansuri, Conch, Pena, and harmonium are some other instruments dominantly used along with the dance.

Manipuri Dance Music
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The songs on which the dance forms are enacted are derived from the great heritage of poets ranging as far as Sanskritic, Brijbhasha and Maithili traditions. Manipuri dance forms are an exciting combination of skilful manoeuvre and smart employment of energy to produce the mesmerizing effect of joy and pleasure. Manipuri is not just a dance form but carries a long cultural heritage in its performance.

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Bharatnatyam : India’s Oldest Dance Form

Bharatnatyam is believed to be one of the oldest classical dance forms of India. It is based on Bharat Munni’s Natya Shastra which is considered to be the fifth Veda as it takes its foundations from the earlier four Vedas. It is a dance form which is used for worshipping God every day.

Bharatnatyam Mudras
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Bharatnatyam – The Oldest Dance Form of India

Bharatnatyam also finds a direct reference in Tamil epic Silappatikaram which narrates a story of a girl and her dance training regimen.

History and Decline

Bharatnatyam mainly flourished in Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu and was restricted to religious narratives. Until the 19th century, Bharatnatyam was kept alive by the Devadasis, who were gifted to the temple by their parents and were married to God.

Bharatnatyam - India's Oldest Dance Form
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They performed it every day to worship God. But as the British banned it in the nineteenth century, it stretched out to other public platforms where it undertook many non-religious and social themes.

Bharatnatyam Repertoire

Bharatnatyam is performed by a solo female or male dancer on traditional Carnatic music, earlier it was only performed by females. The music and dance movements of the performance draw their roots from the Natya Shastra. The dancer is accompanied by a vocalist, mridangam player, violinist or veena player, a flutist and cymbal player on the stage.

Bharatnatyam
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The most important aspects of the performance are the hand postures, called mudras, and facial expressions, called bhava, of the dancer as they play an important role in the narration of the story. The most famous posture of Bharatnatyam in popular culture is that of Nataraja.

The entire performance is based on a sequence of dance performances which are done in a specific order that is pushpanjali, alarippu, jatiswaram, shabdam, varnam, padam, tillana and managalam. Each part of the sequence is different from the other in purpose and style.


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Different Styles

There are different types of Bharatnatyam styles which are more than 150 years old. Some of them are: Pandanallur, Vazhuvoor, Thanjavoor, Mysore, Kanchipooram. They all have their own specialties.

Bharatnatyam Styles
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The depiction of moods and emotions of protagonists, during the performance, are compared with different gods such as Dheerodaatta, compared as Rama, Dheeroddhata, compared as Ravana, Dheeralalita, compared as Vatsaraaja, Dheerashanta, compared as Buddha.

Revival of Bharatnatyam

Dedication to the revival of Bharatnatyam, after it was banned by the British, goes to many art enthusiasts, including freedom fighters, people outside devadasi class as well as devadasis themselves, who wanted to preserve the Indian art.

Bharatnatyam Steps
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E Krishna Iyer’s name is a prominent one in this list. He was a freedom fighter, a lawyer, and a trained Bharatnatyam dancer. He strived to protect the art and remove the stigma attached to the dance form, he performed in female costumes to make people aware and accept it on the face of British ban.

Rukmini Devi is another advocate of preservation of Bharatnatyam, her debut performance in 1935 made people see beyond the popular perception that it was a vulgar practice, which turned out to be a milestone in its history.

Contemporary Situation

The contemporary situation on Bharatnatyam and its dancers is not good as because of financial constraints it is losing to maintain its earlier standards. New dancers are becoming teachers at a very early age to achieve economic independence which is leading to the sub standardization.

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