Nepal is a culturally diverse country with a rich tradition of folk music and dance. Dancing (in Nepali, Nritya or Nach) is an important part of Nepalese culture, and traditional dances of Nepal have been practiced for centuries and have been passed down through generations.
From the colorful Ghantu to the energetic Jhyaure and Dhan dance, the traditional dances of Nepal tell a story of its cultural heritage.
In this blog post, we will be exploring the top 8 traditional dances of Nepal and their significance in Nepalese culture. Keep reading to learn about some of the most vibrant and dynamic traditional dances of Nepal!
Whether you’re looking to learn more about Nepali culture or just want to take in some amazing performances, this post has something for everyone.
8 Popular Traditional Dances of Nepal
Nepal comprises numerous style of dances including folk dance, ethinic, classic, and also modern dances. The history and traditions of dances in Nepal is very ancient and unique. Legends say that dances in this country originated in the abode of Lord Shiva-the Himalayas where he performed the Tandav dance.
Since Nepal has a big varieties in altitudes as well as ethinicities, with altitudes and ethinicity, the dances of Nepal slightly chances in style as well as in dresses.
Based on diffirent cultures and ethinicities of Nepal, here are the names of 8 popular traditional dances of Nepal in no particular oder.
1. Maruni Dance
The Maruni Dance is a traditional Nepalese dance originating from the Magar community of western Nepal. It is also one of the oldest and most popular traditional dances of Nepal. It is typically performed as part of a celebration during the festival of Dashain and Tihar, and is a popular form of entertainment for all age groups.
The Maruni Dance is performed by both men and women. Dancers wear traditional dress, typically featuring vibrant colors and ornate patterns. The music used in the dance is typically played on drums, cymbals, and other instruments.
In some parts of Nepal, the Maruni dance is performed during certain festivals or special occasions, such as weddings. While it may be seen as a form of entertainment in many places, it also holds great significance in terms of spiritual protection.
The Maruni Dance is considered to be one of the most important traditional dances of Nepal. It is celebrated not just in Nepal but also across India, Bhutan, and Tibet. The energetic and captivating nature of this dance makes it an exciting experience for viewers.
2. Deuda Dance
The Deuda dance is a traditional Nepali dance that is performed by the people of the Karnali region of Nepal. The dance has its roots in the historical culture and is believed to have been around for centuries. The dance is performed mainly on the occasion of various festivals such as Gaura.
The Deuda dance is an integral part of Nepali culture and it is considered as one of the cultural heritages of Karnali Province. It is performed by group of both male and female. The men and women each form a group and hold hands while dancing in a circle. The song is then sung without any musical instrument. The songs sung while performing Deuda is in Khas language. The verse of the song alternates between question presented by male/female group and the answer by the opposite group.
The Deuda dance is an important part of Nepali culture and it reflects the country’s rich traditions and beliefs. It is a highly entertaining and vibrant form of entertainment that is enjoyed by all age groups.
3. Lakhey Dance
The Lakhey Dance is one of the most iconic traditional dances of Nepal. It is a dance of a demon in the carnival of god. This unique dance form is believed to be a part of an ancient pre-Hindu culture, and it has been passed down through the centuries.
It is performed on the last day of Indra Jatra. During this, Lakhey the demon dances among gods and deities relentlessly and carelessly. He is depicted with a ferocious face, protruding fangs, and a mane of red or black hair.
It is one of the most popular dances of Nepal. Performers wear a Lakhe costume and mask and perform dances of the streets and city squares during the festivals. The dancing style is characterized by wild movements and thumping music, with each dancer taking on the role of either a Lakhey, a demon. The music that accompanies the dance is upbeat and energetic, consisting of drums, cymbals and flutes.
The Lakhey Dance is an important part of Nepalese culture, and a great way for visitors to experience the country’s history and traditions. Whether it’s witnessed in a village or at a festival, it’s sure to leave a lasting impression!
4. Dhan Nach
The Dhan Dance is one of the most famous traditional dances of Nepal. It is a traditional folk dance of Limbu community of Nepal which is believed to be originated in the Limbuwan region of Nepal.
The dance is performed during various occasions like marriages, festivals, carnivals, and other celebrations. It can be either performed in pairs or in groups. Traditionally, it is performed by men and women without having any blood relations holding hands and dancing either in a straight like or in a circulus. Historically, the dance was performed for seven days and seven nights.
The Dhan Dance reflects Nepal’s culture, as well as its diverse landscape. The graceful movements and complicated steps, along with the energetic beats, tell stories of religious rituals, and everyday life. With time, this dance is also on the verge of extinction. However, various cultural organizations are raising awarness for preservation and promotion of this dance.
5. Jhijhiya Dance
Jhijhiya is the most famous and popular traditional dance of Terai region of Nepal. Especially, Jhijhiya Dance is the cultural folk dance of Mithila region of Nepal. It is performed during the Dashain in the Mithila region of Nepal. The dance is performed to offer devotion towards Goddess Durga, the goddess of victory as well as to protect one’s family and society from witches and dark magics.
Jhijhiya is performed for ten consecutive evevinings or sometime even less, from the day of Ghatsthapana by women and girls of different age groups. It is performed by placing earthen pitcher on their head and dancing in a rotation manner. Inside the pitcher a fire lamp is place and multiple holes are made on the pitcher. It is believed that if a witch is successful in counting the holes on the pitcher, the dancer dies immediately.
There is also a popular belief that if a witch suceeds in counting the numbers of holes in the pot placed on women’s head, the dancing women will die immediately. This dance has its own songs and rythms. The songs are either in Maithali or Bhojpuri language. These songs are composed by using folk instruments such as Dhols and Manjira.
In recent years, the popularity of Jhijhiya has been decreasing and is one the verge of extinction. That’s why even during Dashain, Jhijhiya dance can be seen only in few places.
6. Ghatu Nritya
Ghatu Dance is performed by Gurung community of Western Nepal. The dance is performed mainly during the Baisakh Purnima. The dance is started on the previous new moon day of the same month.
The dancers are selected on the day of Shree Panchami and then trained for three/four months. This dance is also performed by people of Magar, Dura, Balami communities.
Ghatu Dance is performed to present the story of King Pashramu and Queen Yambawati. So, during the dance one of two major dancers, one plays the role of the king and other plays the role of the queen. The dance tells the story when King goes on a hunt and meets Yambawati, and later marry her. When the king goes on war and dies, the queen decided to go on a Sati.
There are two types of Ghatu dance: Bahramase Ghatu and Sati Ghatu. Bahramase Ghatu is performed throughout the year and the daily activities of people such as farming and domestic work are presented. In Sati Ghatu, the main story of the king and queen is presented and during the dance, the dancers goes in a trance like state. The dancers then dance in meticulously slow steps.
During the dance, the dancers are dressed in Gurung cultural dress and jwellereis. A crown made of flowers and roasted paddy is also worn by the dancers. Various props such as horse for the king, comb for the queen, bow and arrow are made each year by the people, which are used during the dance.
7. Sakela Naach
Sakela is a popular and traditional dance performed by Kirat Rai people of Eastern Nepal. This dance is performed to worship Lord Paruhang and Goddess Sumnima and is performed twice a year and is distinguished by two names: Ubhauli and Udhauli. Ubhauli is celebrated during Baisakh Purnima and Udhauli is celebrated during Mangsir.
This dance is performed by large group of Kirats, wearing their traditional dress. People from all ages dance together in a large circle. Thera are male and female leaders in each circle known as Silimangpa and Silimangma respectively. They choreograph the dance movies known as sili while others follow them. The silli reflects the differenet aspects of human life and their relationship with nature.
8. Syabru Dance
Syabry is a popular folk dance mainly performed by Sherpa and Yolmo communities of Himalayan part of Nepal. It is also performed by the people of Tamang and other Himalayan communities of Nepal. It is performed in every festival as well as in various auspicious events and gatherings.
The dance is performed in a group. It is performed by both men and women by wearing their ethnic clothes while performing the dance. People sing traditional folk songs while moving slowly in a line or a circulus while performing the dance. The songs are often accompanied by traditional instruments such as Tungna.
Like various traditional dances of Nepal, the popularity of Syabru dance is also decreasing. In order to preserve and promote the dance form, various competitions, workshops and awarness programmes are being conducted.
The traditional dances of Nepal are a beautiful reflection of the culture and heritage of the Nepalese people. Each dance has its own unique style that makes it a part of Nepali identity. Whether you’re looking for a way to connect with the country’s ancient traditions or simply enjoy a spectacular show, there’s no doubt that the dances of Nepal will captivate and inspire you. We hope this article has given you an insight into some of the most popular traditional dances of Nepal, so that you can experience them first-hand and appreciate their beauty.