Nepali Folk Dances in Darjeeling
Darjeeling has seen large immigration from all parts of Nepal over the years. Many clans and communities of Nepalese with their varied culture of folk songs and dances have made Darjeeling their home. As a result, you will find almost all such rich heritage here in Darjeeling although some have been influenced by other residents such as Tibetan Buddhists, Lepchas from Sikkim, Bhutanese and even Bengali Hindus.
Maruni Naach: This is one of the oldest Nepali folk dances. Males dressed like female (like in long frocks) perform this dance to celebrate the return of lord Rama to Ayoddha after his 14 years of exile in the jungles. Originally it was performed during the Tihar festival. These days Maruni is performed mostly at personal functions like marriages or sometimes at festival events. Performers wear colorful costumes, ornaments and even large nose rings.
Dhan Naach: This dance is popular with the Limbus in Darjeeling, a clan of Nepalese who mostly belonged to East Nepal. Dhan means Paddy, so it's paddy dance or rice harvest dance. As the name suggests, this dance is performed to celebrate rice harvesting. Both men and women participate. The dance is performed in slow circles, holding each others hands and dancing to a rhythmic tune.
Jhankri Naach: Jhankri means witch doctor. The dance is used in the rural areas of Darjeeling to treat the sick people as dancers wear white gowns, and use drums and making various postures during dance. Since the villagers in the rural areas lack proper healthcare and doctors, they use this technique to cure the sick. You can sometimes watch this dance during trade fares and other festivals.
Yatra Naach: Yatra means procession. So this dance takes place as part of a festive procession like the Indra Yatra when the Nepalese thank Lord Indra for rains and some also thank Shiva for destroying the evils. The masked performers and chariots representing demons and deities are the highlights of this dance. Indra yatra usually takes place in the month of August/September. It's very popular in Nepal and continue for eight consecutive days.
Tamang Selo: Also known as Damphu Naach, this dance is performed by Tamangs (a clan of Nepalese). Damphu is a double sided disc shaped drum. The performers use this drum while dancing.
Balan Naach: Balan dance is more popular with the clans such as Chhetris and Bahuns. The main theme is to depict the act of gods and goddesses (their 'Leelas'). These are usually performed during religious occasions.
Deora (or Deura) Naach: This dance is popular within the Damai community. A set of nine traditional instruments known as 'Naumati Baja' is used during this dance.
Khukuri Naach: Kuhukuri is a decorated knife with usually a wood carved handle used by the Gorkhas (the predominant clan of Nepalese in Darjeeling). This dance is performed by the Gorkhas flashing Khukuris to showcase power and pride.
Pancha Buddha Naach: Pancha means five. According to tantric Buddhism, there are five forms of Buddha. So this dance represents the five forms of Buddha. It is performed by five dancers each with his own direction, color and posture.
Dhime (or Dhimay) Naach: This dance is performed mainly by the Newar community and during harvest season. They use the instrument called Dhime during this dance. Dhime is a traditional drum which is played by hand on one side and by a stick on the other. It is also performed in special occasions.
Sangini Naach: This is a delicate dance prformed mainly by the Chhetris and Bahramin women during the Teej festival. This is the festival during which the women fast and pray to lord Shiva and goddess Parvati for marital blessings. The festival and the dance take place during the monsoon time over three days. Women hold Kansha (bronze plates), ceremonial lamps and vessels on their head and dance in slow rhythm. The dance is a great demonstration of skill with movement of hand and feet.
Jhyaure Naach: This is a popular song and dance even within young Nepali men and women. The dance can take place anytime during the year but mostly during the rice planting season. It's a free dance and based on love and joyful themes.
Chutki Naach: This dance is full of speed and body movements.
Sakhiya Naach: This dance is performed by women (Sakhiya means women who are friends), a traditional dance adapted from the far west of Nepal.
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