Himachal Pradesh is known as Dev Bhoomi- the land of God. There is an exhaustive list of Folk dances from Himachal Pradesh that are still prevalent for each occasion to appease the Almighty and the list is as follows:
Dangi: One of the most prominent of folk dances from Himachal Pradesh
It is based on one of the oldest folklores in Himachal Pradesh. The dance primarily involves female dancers. This dance is performed during the harvest season in the temple of Goddess Naina Devi. There are different themes or variations of this dance. One theme depicts the love story of a majestic king and a common village girl. Other depicts the business transactions between the client and the business. This dance is filled with enthusiasm and vigor along with plethora of emotions.
This dance is performed by the Buddhists in the monasteries and is performed once in three years. It is famous for its vivacious headgear, costumes and masks. The theme of their costumes is yellow, black and gold and is made smooth and shiny. The headgear is called the chhanak. This Himachal dance is a graceful dance in comparison with the other dances involving slow circular movements.
This dance gives energy to the dancers and is said to make the dancers even bolder as they face the hardships in life. Commonly practiced in Kumaon district of the Himachal Pradesh, this dance form rejuvenates the dancers. This dance is performed by both men and women.
Men and women whirl past each other in this energetic dance. The variegated colours on their dresses get mixed due to their speedy movements and gives pleasure to the eye. The people of Kumaon dance to their fullest to appease their divine God- Lord Vishnu from which the name of the tribe arose ie; Kumaon is derived from Kurmanchal; Kuurma– meaning tortoise and referring to the Kuurma avatar of Lord Vishnu.
There are various forms of this dance varying region by region amongst the folk dances from HImachal Pradesh. Some of the popular ones include the Kullu Nati, the Kinnauri Nati, Gaddi Nati, Shimla Nati and so on. Each dance has its own style of costumes and music and aids in distinguishing from the rest.
Kinnauri Nati is performed during the New Festival. The dancers portray the bucolic nature of the hills, trees and the smooth flowing rivers.
Kullu Nati is the most popular one. It has about thirteen forms and is predominantly performed during the festival of Dusshera. The dancers wear colourful tunics and sway to the rhythm of the music. This dance is performed for hours together till the dancers and the orchestra have their energy drained out. Also this dance is performed in fairs and fesivals.
The Shiv Badar Nati is performed during Shiv Ratri in praise of Lord Shiva, the destroyer. This dance is performed by the folk of the upper hills in Mandi.
The Nati dance has two main purposes- one is to celebrate the new year and the other is to celebrate the rich harvest produced after their hard work in the fields.