What is South Asian dance?

Rajasthani Folk Dance

A guide to Rajasthani Folk Dance


Ghoomar is a traditional folk dance of Rajasthan initially performed by the Bhil tribe to worship Goddess Saraswati which was later embraced by other Rajasthani communities. The dance is chiefly performed by veiled women who wear flowing dresses called ghaghra. The dance typically involves performers pirouetting while moving in and out of a wide circle. The word ghoomna describes the twirling movement of the dancers and is the basis of the word ghoomar.

Tera Taal

Tera Taal (or Terah Taal) from Rajasthan is generally performed along with Manjeeras (cymbals) and other metallic discs made of bronze, brass, copper, and zinc. The music of the Ektara (musical instrument) accompanies the dance performance. Manjeeras are tied to thirteen different parts of the body. The sounds of these Manjeeras produce the Terah Taal or the thirteen beats. Sometimes the dance is also performed with swords. It requires accuracy and precision, which can only be done by professional dancers.


Kalbelia dance is another beautiful folk dance of Rajasthan state of India, particularly performed by a tribe of the same name’. It is also known by other names like ‘Sapera Dance’ or ‘Snake Charmer Dance’.

The dance is an integral part of their culture and performed by men and women. The dancers are women in flowing black skirts who dance and twirl, replicating the movements of a serpent. They wear an upper body cloth called an angrakhi and a headcloth known as the odhani; the lower flowy skirt is called a lehenga. All these clothes are a mix of red and black hues and embroidered. In 2010, the Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan were declared a part of its Intangible Heritage List by UNESCO.

two dancers performing outdoors in colourful costume
Rajasthani folk dance. Photo: AT

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