Ghoomar Dance: Twirl in Circles like Deepika Padukone did in Film Padmaavat

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Ghoomar, the social folk dance of Rajasthan, conveys celebration, happiness, valor, and heritage.  

March 9, 2007. Cut to the gala extravagant dinner at Jodhpur’s majestic and enormous 548-year-old Mehrangarh Fort. The celebration in question – British model and actress Elizabeth Hurley ties the knot with Indian-born businessman Arun Nayar at a fairy tale venue, the royal Umaid Bhawan Palace. The backdrop in question was a classical Rajasthani ambiance, where amongst all the events folk dancers performed Ghoomar as a part of the royal festivities. 

Nowhere in India is this cultural diversity more prominent and visible than in the state of Rajasthan, the land of warmth and hospitality, where sand-filled landscapes have given birth to not only some of the vibrant events such as the Pushkar Mela, the Camel Fair, the Nagaur cattle fair but also the exotic Kathputli and the tempting Ghoomar.

A World of Color & Activity

Well, if that be the background of the state of Rajasthan, one perhaps needs just a little adventure in the vein to take a trip down the pageantry lane of colorful turbans, hip-hopping ships of the desert–the camels, sharp-twined mustaches, tie and dye technique – bandhani, hand block prints, embroidered shoes, wooden furniture, dal bati churma, mawa kachori, lal maas, ghevar and red chilly, ghaghra and chunari, dancing puppets, folk music and a sheer voluminous landscape of forts, havelis, temples, mosques, fairs, blue pottery, ivory, semi-precious stones, and silverware. 

For what unfurls in the process slowly and gradually is a ‘revolving’ twist to the land of bravery, chivalry, and warmth – the circular community dance of the Rajput women who swirl with all gaiety and enthusiasm in a technicolor costume comprising veils that covers their nose and eyes, well complemented with embroidered skirts and blouses and accompanying glass and gold bangles.

Yes, on a cultural note, we are talking of a beautiful amalgamation of hand gestures and hip movements – the whirl and twirl “Ghoomar” – which is not just a group dance but a legacy effervescent of the spirit and culture of the land of Rajputs similar to the Garba of Gujarat. Panihari is yet another folk-dance form of Rajasthan, the only difference being that in this case, the dancers carry earthen pots with them while dancing. 

The Meaning Of Ghoomar

The word Ghoomar is derived from the word “Ghoomna” which when translated means “to turn”, an apt and precise description of the dance as the womenfolk literally “twirl” to the beats of the music. Set to a fast pace of beats, the Rajasthani womenfolk put on their performances, comprising a mind-blowing coordination of footwork and hand gestures and small hip movements.

The Genesis Of Ghoomar

A tradition that started and evolved in the tribal Bhil community of Rajasthan, the Ghoomar was further adopted by the royal Rajput women’s clan who have since then carried forward the baton. 

Ghoomar is the lifeblood of Bhils, the bowmen and desert dwellers of Rajasthan. However, this dance form varies in urban Rajasthan – while the ballet of the Bhils is an energetic and lively show, the one by urban women is a polite social dance. 

Occasions When It Is Performed

Nurtured and performed on festive occasions such as the Holi, the Teej, and Gangore Puja, Ghoomar is an integral part of the celebration process in Rajput households, where the newlywed bride is asked to perform the Ghoomar. Slowly and gradually, all other women of the household join in, regardless of age, to take part in this precious moment of joy and togetherness.   

Largely performed in women’s gatherings, as a solo or a duet, Ghoomar is also staged on private occasions for entertaining a queen in her royal courtyard. 

The spring festival is welcomed by women gathering in front of the statue of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati (also known as Gauri). The broad aim of the women is to ask for a good life partner and pray for his long life by dancing and singing. This session continues for two days with the statue of Gauri or Parvati turned back. On the third day, Gauri is turned in the same direction as that of her husband Shiva, following which women take the idols along with pots full of flowers to the bathing ghats where they bathe the statue and dance last time.     

The songs accompanying the dance usually tell stories of valor and the exploits of the Rajput warriors on the battlefield.

Costumes

It is the costumes worn by the dancers that speak out the true meaning of the dance through the choice of colors and workmanship. The marvelously embellished Ghagras comprise a large skirt, a blouse, and a full-sized Odni, all adorned by sequins and embroidery. The final touch being the amulets that the dancers wear that are adorned with lace which sway as they dance. 

Ghoomar Variations

Like all festivities, Ghoomar has a variation – the Gair Ghoomar, which is performed only by men except for the Holi festival, when both men and women take part equally in the fervor. In the case of the Garasia tribes which inhabit part of the Sirohi, Udaipur, and Pali districts, the Ghoomar is performed to the beat of percussion instruments. 

Ghoomar In The Modern Day

In the current context, the dance is mostly performed at festivals, wedding feasts and to entertain the vast amounts of tourists who throng the state in their unending search for the exotic and the mysterious. It is not uncommon to see the women dancing to the tunes of the Ghoomar into the late hours of the night. 

To sum it up, Ghoomar is an engrossing, action-packed, and fascinating way to dance to the tradition.


Deepika Dewan

I am an experienced professional in content writing. Start my day with feeding pets. Write on subjects close to my heart. Wish to explore destinations, cuisines, and new opportunities. Life is unexpected, so keep praying and thanking.

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