Rajasthan as a state has attracted the major global attention because of its rich culture and heritage. The folk dances of Rajasthan, too, have attracted many art patrons from across the globe. One such form of dance is Bhavai, the incredible pot dance of India.
There are at least fifteen major formats of folk dances in Rajasthan, and one of them is the well-known Bhavai. The prime feature of Bhavai folk dance is the set of terracotta pots that performers balance on their heads while giving a dance performance.
While another folk dance that goes by the name “Chari Dance” too includes balancing of pot(s) on head, it is noteworthy that the pots used in Bhavai dance are made of regional clay whereas the Chari dance involves pitchers made of brass (also commonly called Chari which also signifies the name of the dance).
Another major difference between the two dance formats is that the only feat in Chari dance is the pitchers, the insides of which are set aflame, whereas there are numerous feats involved in a Bhavai dance performance.
The first unbelievable feat of the dance is that the performers do not balance just one, but up to nine earthen pots on their heads. If you think that would be enough of an act in a single performance, you could not be farther from the truth.
The Bhavai performers demonstrate their skills by dancing on formidable objects like naked swords (sharper edge facing upwards), broken glasses, and bed of nails. As if that isn’t enough to inspire awe in the spectators, performers balance the soles of their feet on barely manageable glasses and rim of a thali (steel dish). All these elements go into the making of this eventual traditional dance that will never fail to create excitement among spectators.
The inspiration of this dance format seems to come from the former rural life of Rajasthan. Being a state substantially covered with desert, there has never been an abundance of water resources here. Though the natural conditions are pretty much same even now, technology has increased the accessibility and availability of water for villagers. But earlier, when no instruments were available, womenfolk of the villages were required to fetch water from common sources like wells.
They used to carry multiple clay pots simultaneously to save their time, and since the path in villages was used to be filled with thorns, it pretty much clears up how the whole chore would have inspired a dance format which has now received international recognition.
The dance form originally belonged to the Bhil, Jat, Meena, Kalbeliyas and Kumhars communities of Rajasthan, but now, no such boundaries affect this unique art. To get a glimpse of how exciting a Bhavai dance performance can be watch this video.