Himachal Pradesh is a land of festivals and dances that form an inherent part of its culture. Dances are notably performed at festivals and other special occasions like weddings, lending color and variety to everyday monotony. The varied forms and styles of dances reflect the true spirit of the people. Through beautiful folk dances and honey sweet pahari songs, they express merriment and exhibit a close bond with their roots.
The most popular dances of the state are Rakshasa (demon), Kayang, Bakayang, the Bnayangchu, the Jataru Kayang, Chohara, Shand and Shabu, Lang-dar-ma, Nati, Jhanjhar, Jhoor, Gi and Rasa. A myriad of musical instruments like Ranasingha, Karna, Turhi, Flute, Ektara, Kindari, Jhanjh, Manjara, Chimta, Ghariyal and Ghunghru are played to provide music for the songs and the dances.
Chham dance is one of the most colourful and splendid dance forms of Himachal. It is performed by a sect of Buddhists — usually monks and lamas in monasteries on special occasions and festivities. Dancers dress up in monstrous appearances and embody the evil spirits that are supposed to bring natural disasters and disease among mankind. According to legend, the dance form is pious and performing it is known to ward off evils and spirits.
Kullu Nati is another famous dance of the state that is performed with much fanfare. Dancers dressed in ethnic attires groove to the beats of several musical instruments like dhol, nagara, narsimha etc. People gyrate their bodies in slow swaying movements; they dance either by making circles or by standing in rows. This dance form is performed during the New Year and celebrates the new harvest ready for reaping.
Thoda from the hinterlands of Himachal Pradesh is a dance form that derives origins from martial arts. Also known as the dance of archery, Thoda is performed by two teams, descendants of Kuaravas and Pandavas respectively. The two opposing parties make continuous attempts to attack each other and defend themselves at the same time. They use arrows and bows swiftly and skillfully to create an illusion of real battle