The long stretches of monochrome Thar Desert get relieving vibrant breaks where the culture of the state makes efforts to color its (mostly) drab geography. The colorful garbs of the people of Rajasthan have always attracted eyes of the world; and when this multihued attire gets a swirling touch of the folk dance, the resultant exuberance is beyond compare. One such culture-enhancing folk dance of Rajasthan is Ghoomar.
Derived from the Hindi word ‘Ghoom’ which literally means ‘to twirl’, Ghoomar is the most well-recognized folk dance of the nation. As the name signifies, the chief movement of the dance form includes pirouetting. The footwork and hand movements are always in the synchronization of this spinning motion.
Ghoomar is conventionally performed by women in groups, who wear colorful, mirror embedded ghaghras (flowing skirts) and cover their faces with a matching-colored veil. Such vivid looking synchronized movements creates an almost surreal environment, which further gets strength from the haunting music of Rajasthan’s folk musical instrument.
This incredible dance form is often performed as a means of celebrations on feisty occasions like marriage ceremonies and festivals like Holi and Teej. Rajasthan has varied lists of folk songs for each of these occasions and the simple steps of Ghoomar somehow appear well with all of them. Most popular traditional songs for Ghoomar are "Gorband", "Pudina", "Rumal" and "Mor Bole Re".
It is believed that the dance form was initially developed within the Bhil tribe. Bhil’s is essentially a martial community that used to live on the boundaries of different kingdoms. The tribe used to have regular conflicts with the erstwhile Kachwaha rulers of the region. Later, both the communities led a peaceful coexistence allowing their vibrant cultures to find a pleasing union, a product of which is Ghoomar dance as we know it today.
The result of this unification had made this tribal dance an important part of the state’s regal culture. The ladies of the royal family adopted the folk dance as their own and thenceforward it spread throughout the boundaries of Rajputana, creating wonderful blends with the already existing dance forms of the area. For instance, in Udaipur, the proximity with the neighboring state Gujarat had resulted in giving a Garba touch to it, likewise in Bundi, the prevalent Chakri dance has a clear impression on the basic pirouetting steps of Rajasthani Ghoomar.
Watch Deepika Padukone performing "Ghoomar" as Rani Padmaavati in the most controversial Bollywood movie of this year, Padmaavat.