Nepali Dances of the Terai

By Royal Mountain Travel January 14, 2013


Various ethnicities with different cultures inhabit the Terai (plains) of Nepal. While many festivals of Hindus are similar to other regions of the country, the Terai people do have some festivals that are unique which naturally means that there are a number of unique dances.

Horiya Dance: This is a popular and boisterous dance of the Tharu community of Nepal’s Terai Performed during the Holi festival (Feb-March). A dance that expresses the amorous sentiments of young boys and girls, dancers throw colours on each other during the performance.

Mungrahawa Dance: Young boys carrying wooden sticks (mungros) dance energetically to their own stick beats and to the beats of many drums during this popular dance of the Tharus of western Nepal and Chitwan. Apparently, Chitwan’s famous Machan Wildlife Resort were the ones to revive this almost extinct dance form as a suitable entertainment routine to make the evenings more exciting for tourists.

Kaharba Dance: Dancers move from door to door and from village to village singing and dancing in small groupin this professional dance form of western Terai. Many of the dancers earn their livelihood through the donations they receive.

Chanchar Dance: Dedicated to Lord Krishna, this another popular Tharu dance.

Jhinjhia Dance: This dance takes place during the Dashain festival in the Terai to honour of Goddess Durga. Young girls dance with burning lamps on top of water vessels balanced on their heads. It is a night time routine that requires excellent balance and skill on the dancers’ part.

Jat-Jatin Dance: Performed on moonlit nights from midnight to dawn during the monsoon months, it is a popular dance of India’s north Bihar and of Nepal’s Mithila region (Janakpur). Two groups of girls stand on opposite sides, and express their sentiments through movements along with a dancer representing Jat and another representing Jatin. It enacts the mythical tale of the two lovers and the trials they undergo before living happily ever after.

Sama-Chakwa Dance: Beginning on the first day of Chhat (the biggest festival of the Terai), it is a fortnight long dance drama that ends on the full moon. The dance portrays the love between brothers and sisters and during the performance, earthen icons symbolic figures are made.

Sakhiya Dance: It is performed during the Dashain festival by women folk of western Nepal. Holding handkerchiefs in their hands, young nubile girls dance rhythmically to the beat of the madal in this graceful dance form.

Jhumare Dance: The purpose of this leisurely dance is to pass idle time. It involves women who dance in a group or in a circle in tune with songs.

Kirtaniya Dance: Usually performed during Satyanarayan Puja (Worship of Lord Satyanarayan), it is is an ancient dance devoted to the gods Vishnu and Krishna.

Nachari Dance: This is a dance dedicated to Lord Shiva in which Shiva devotees perform this dance during Maha Shivaratri and Basant Panchami.

Bhagata Dance: A dance meant to ward off evil spirits, this dance is performed by a group of Bhagatas to worship the deities, Kali and Sokha, who are clan deities. (A Bhagata is one who is capable of warding off ghosts).

Dhimal Dance: Usually performed on rainy days before going fishing, this may also be performed during festivals by the Dhimals (also called Majhis (fishermen)) of eastern Nepal.

Dances are perhaps the most dramatic, expressive and dynamic aspect of any culture and Nepal has them in plenty!


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