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5 popular folk dances of West Bengal

Chhau dance, folk dance of West Bengal from Purulia district - Mythical India
Chhau dance, folk dance of West Bengal from Purulia district

West Bengal has the most wonderfully constructed, universally acclaimed bridge- The Howrah Bridge. This state is also filled with exotic temples where the devotees pour in to pay obeisance to the Gods and Goddesses. It celebrates their festivals with ardent fervor and also their folk dances. Folk dances of West Bengal like Chhau Dance are known worldwide for its beauty and perfection. Some of their prominent dances are as under:


One of the folk dances of West Bengal, it is a traditional and devotional form of dance. This dance is performed by the devout devotees of Goddess Shakthi. This dance has undergone various changes over time and this lead to the Muslim community to become a custodian of this dance.

This dance involves two main dancers surrounding a chorus of people. The two main dancers dance to the tune of the harmonium, flute, drum and the judi. The dancers express their emotions through their dialogues and their signature dialogues which are repeated by the chorus.

Gambhira folk dance,Folk dance of West bengal - Mythical India

This dance mainly originated in the community of Malda in West Bengal. The initial type of this folk dance was agriculture based and as time progressed, the dance became a devotional type of dance. The dancers wear masks throughout the dance. This dance is losing its sheen but still being performed and organized by the people in Rajshahi.


Kirtan Dance:

This dance form is said to be the best form of Bhakthi yoga. This dance was introduces around 500 years ago. Adage says that this dance form was introduced by Narada Muni who sang praises or kirtanas of Lord Vishnu.

The most famous type of this dance was done to pay a tribute to Lord Krishna. The devotees sang out their love and affection of their Lord and danced as if the Almighty appeared before their eyes.

This dance has several elements of music, expressions, drama and so on. The dancers are well aware of the tune of the music and dance and express themselves accordingly.

Kirtan dance,Folk dance of West bengal - Mythical India


Kushan Dance:

This dance is relatively a traditional form of dance revolved around Ramayana. The word Kush means straw and Aan means bring in Bengali. There’s another meaning attached to this name. Ku means bad and Shan means wiping out in Bengali. Thus the word means wiping out the evil forces.

Men perform this dance. Men dress up as women to enact their role in the dance form. There are various musical instruments that are used in this dance. Some of them include the harmonium, kohl, flute and so on.

Kushan folk dances of West Bengal - Mythical India

The narration of the dance is done in pure Bengali and the secondary narration in the colloquial language is done so as to understand the theme and the dialogues spoken by the lead dancer or the mool.


Alkap Dance:

This dance is done mainly by the rural community of West Bengal and is very prominent especially in Malda and Rajshahi. This dance is associated with the Gajan festival of Shiva around mid-April.

This dance is a confluence of dancing, singing, drama and recital. The dance drama portrays the most popular love stories along with a mix of dialogues and emotions. The group includes the chorus performers, the instrumentalists, the dancers and the singers.

Alkap folk dance of West Bengal - Mythical India

Chhau-Most popular of the folk dances of West Bengal

Chhau Dance is a renowned tribal martial dance, a unique thing amongst folk dances of West Bengal. The dance primarily belongs to West Bengal since it’s believed to have originated from Purulia district but its widely popular in other states like Odisha, Jharkhand etc. The Purulia Chhau is distinct compared to its counterparts in terms of the characters.

Chhau dance, folk dance of West Bengal from Purulia district - Mythical India
Chhau dance, folk dance of West Bengal from Purulia district

The Chhau Dance is performed during the Sun festival which is celebrated during Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar. West Bengal proudly presented the folk dance to the world by approving it as theme for West Bengal’s tableau during 1995 republic day parade. The dance mostly themed around the epic stories of our mythology originating from Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Explore Indian Folk Dances

Written by Editor

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