With diversities spanning through centuries, the number of festivals and special events that occur throughout the year is one of the most fascinating things about India. Festivals and dances here are strange, full of fun, deeply religious and full of zeal and excitement. One such dance is the Dandiya Raas. With all the captivating rhythmic beats, intermittent jingling sounds of the bells and electrifying flow of colours and light, Dandiya is a mesmerizing poetry of human movements. An alive art of Gujarat and Rajasthan, Dandiya Raas is a popular folk dance performed during the festival of Navratri. The dance is performed in the victorious honour of Goddess Durga. It is dramatized in a way that depicts the mock fight between the Goddess and the mighty demon king Mahishasura. However, the very fact that today the dance has reached every corner of the world, not just the divergent pandals from the tribal pockets of ancient India, is appreciating. Watching and performing Dandiya Raas is truly a spectacle to behold.

How did Dandiya originate?

Dandiya was nicknamed as the ‘Sword Dance’ as it staged a mock fight between Goddess Durga and the demon king Mahishasura. The sticks, also known as Dandiyas, are a representation of the swords of Durga. The origin of Dandiya can be traced back to the time of Lord Krishna where it extends itself to festivals of crops and harvest too. Also the term ‘raas’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Rasa’ meaning the Raslila performed by Lord Krishna during his time. 

How is it performed?

Dandiya is a folk dance featured for nine nights during Navratri. Both men and women perform Dandiya in a group. The performers strike the sticks together holding in both their hands on the beats of the musical instruments. The setting involves the formation of two circles by the dancers which can involve a large number of people at one time. One circle revolves clockwise while the other anti–clockwise. The dancers are led with the beats given by the person who stands in the centre of the two circles. The dancers spin and move their feet and arms in a choreographed manner to the tune of the drum beats. 

Which musical instruments are needed to perform Dandiya?

As discussed earlier, Dandiya is performed during the nine days of Navratri as well as at the time of harvest. Hence, the dhol (a drum) generally associated to be the most important musical instruments in most of the festival dances and rituals, is used. However, the other musical instruments include the dholak, tabla, and so on.

Is there a costume peculiar to this dance?

People performing Dandiya wear traditional attire dazzling with mirror and heavy jewellery. Ranging from area–to–area, men wear special turbans and kedias whereas women wear traditional and colourful dress such as an embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhini dupattas. 

How is Garba different from Dandiya?

There are two main differences between Garba and Dandiya. First, Dandiya is performed after aarti whereas Garba is performed before it. Second, usually Garba is performed exclusively by women and Dandiya is performed both by men and women. Also, Dandiya is played with dandiyas which are the colourfully decorated sticks whereas Garba involves various hand and feet movements in particular.

Add/View Comment
The most wonderful and precious element of universe is the human life which can only be guided by the right knowledge and right attitude. So, here is an ocean of knowledge, both in English and Hindi encompassing every detail and each facet of human life which ‘one must know’ in order to grow and attain the summits of success. A team of around 200 dedicated members is working ceaselessly to turn such a colossal dream into reality. We are confident that this portal will help bring change in people across the world.

Content creation, research, development and execution done in-house at Aatman Innovations.