Posts Tagged ‘Dance’


Gujarat is a land where hundreds of different tribes have come and established themselves with their culture and lifestyle. As a famous Gujarati saying goes, these tribes have settled here just like the sugar settles within a bowl of milk! It has always been interesting to know more about different people, their cultures and traditions. The anthropologists who have studied various tribes of Gujarat, say that the tribe named ‘Kokna’ is worth to make a note of, among others. Also known by alternative names like Kokni, Kukni or Kukna, the tribe is considered a scheduled one.


Most of the tribes that have settled in Gujarat, just like the Kokna, belong to the Neolithic era. It is believed that the hermitic people of Egypt were the ancestors of the Kokna tribe and the stories of their existence date back to the prehistoric times. Kokna used a square stone pillar with half moon shaped top for capital punishment, resembling a pillar in the Egyptian pyramids. This practice confirms the belief.

However, the name Kokna is derived from the word ‘Kankan’, that is an armlet worn by the tribe. Some people, on the other hand, believe that the name comes as they migrated to Gujarat from some part of Konkan in the olden times, which is the western coastal belt of Maharashtra. The area between the coastal line and the Sahyadris was the original abode of the Kokna tribal community.


In Gujarat, the Kokna tribe is concentrated at Dharampur, Vansda, Valsad and the Dangs.

Some researchers mention that it is from the ancestral, ancient speeches of the Kokna that the origin of the contemporary Kokni language has actually taken shape. This is their native language, a dialect of Marathi. But they also speak Hindi and Gujarati.

The Kokna community is divided into ‘kuls’ or clans. Monogamous, they have a strong sense of united families and community. However, with the modernization and occupational mobility, the concept of nuclear families is fast moving into all the tribes. But, when outside their village, they move in groups.


Kokna tribe can easily be distinguished from other Gujarati tribes. It has an unique attire. The women of this community wear saree and ‘fadki’. They cut the saree into two halves. The upper half is called fadki and the lower part of the body is covered by the saree. Sometimes they also use blouse or lehenga along with the fadki. The males get into a Khadi headdress, jacket, coat and langot with gold rings in the ears. The langot is an essential sign of their culture.

The Kokna women are very fond of ornaments made of white metal, lead and iron or silver. They use the traditional necklaces and other ornaments even today. They also wear flowers and tattoos.

Another major attraction of the Kokna tribe is their houses. The walls are built with mud and whitewashed. The roof comprises of thatched grass and the houses have no windows. Pucca houses are rare.


The most splendid part of the Kokna tribe is that they celebrate all the major festivals of the Indian Territory, only after adding their own fervor and ritualistic elements. They enjoy Shivratri, Dushera, Navratri and Diwali. But the most exciting among the others is the ‘Bhavada’. This is celebrated at the completion of the harvesting season. The Kokna tribes worship Goddess Kali and before harvesting, worship of Gram Devi is celebrated with festivity and jubilance.

The tribe is considered very religious and worships animals like crocodile and tiger.


Bhavada is more special because of its artistic zeal and acumen. The Kokna tribe shapes up masks for this festival which houses the Bhavada Dance. The mask dance is held across a number of villages and only at nights in the summer. Each village has a different set of masks, and sometimes masks are even loaned to villages if they can’t afford to have their own.

The masks are carved out of single pieces of soft wood and then decorated with bamboo strips and colored papers. Bright red, yellow and green in color, they depict Gods and Goddesses like Panch Pandava, Ravana, Ganesh and tribal deities like Kaloba, Mhasoba and Rangatai. Facial expressions, eyebrows, moustaches, cheeks, nose etc. are nicely emphasized in these woodcarvings. Particular families are privileged to do a particular kind of mask. The male members of the family are expected to paint and decorate the mask. Masks may also be made out of cow dung, clay, rice-husks and paper. Every dancer enacts steps typical of the character whose mask he wears, as he dances to the tune of musical instruments like the Sur, Kahali and Sambal.

The art of mimic along with tribal dances still survives in Gujarat. During Holi, Kokna dramatic groups, sometimes using masks, perform in villages with young boys playing female roles laced with wit and humor. Songs of Mahabharata and Ramayana epics are sung to music.

Apart from masks, Kokna tribes are known for their artistic wooden tobacco containers. They are either carved out of wood or made by joining pieces of wood together. A thick coat of lead is applied over the container and then beautiful designs are carved on it. Sometimes, these containers are made into animal shapes like peacock, peahen etc. Apart from wood, these are also made from tough-skinned fruits or seeds.


Gujarat is rich, truly vibrant – be it in terms of economy, development or heritage. All we need to do is move forward in the direction of inclusive growth. Let us look behind the masks, remove our mask of perceptions and grow hand-in-hand!

Read original article at:

Gujarat is not all about Garba – Modhera Dance Festival proves this fact. Classical dancers from all parts of the country take part in this grand occasion and enthrall the audience. Professional artistes as well as emerging talents perform at this annual festival. A signature celebration of the Gujarat Tourism Department, the festival aims at providing prominence to Indian Classical and Folk Dance and to present these dance forms in an atmosphere they were originally presented in.
The beautiful Sun Temple at Modhera acts as the venue for the Dance Festival. The architectural style of the temple is superb and lots of efforts have been made in the past on its adornment. The walls contain the sculptural carvings that speak of the rich cultural heritage of Gujarat. Though the temple of the 11th century is in ruins, it is considered as one of the best examples of Indian art and architecture of the bygone era.The temple is dedicated to Lord Surya (the Sun God) and its outer walls are covered with prominent figures of the Lord. The style in which the temple was built bears a strong resemblance to that of the Jain temples at Mount Abu.Modhera is located in North Gujarat and is 25 km away from the town of Mehsana. The temple was built during the reign of the Solanki king Bhimdev I. The most fascinating feature of the temple is that its construction is such that sun’s first rays illuminate the main deity in the innermost chamber of the shrine, through the main doors.


This festival of dance is also called Uttarardh Mahotsav. This name is derived from the placement of the Sun. The festival is held after Uttrayan, the time when the sun starts his voyage towards Uttar or North indicating the end of winter and the beginning of longer days with a pleasant breeze. During Uttrayan, the Sun transmigrates from one planet to the other; it travels from Dhanu or Sagittarius to Makar that is Capricorn. Halfway through this voyage, the time when ‘ardh’ or half of ‘uttar’ or Northward journey is over, the period is known as Uttarardh.


The delight is to watch the performers blend in the ambience and bring life to the sandstone figurines of the temple, singing and narrating legends of history.

The main highlight of the Modhera Dance Festival is the typical Garba performance that depicts the glorious culture of Gujarat. People attired in colorful costumes perform the Garba dance. The whole atmosphere is so breathtaking that it leaves the audience totally spellbound. Dance troupes and performers from all regions of the nation bring along a panorama of varied dance forms and styles, interlaced with the essence of their origins. It is during this time that Modhera witnesses large number of crowds, who come here to witness this fabulous occasion and take pleasure in watching the varied art forms.


The festival is attended by art and dance connoisseurs from all across the world. Classical and folk dancers and musicians from different states of the country exhibit their talent while culture enthusiasts witness this splendid event. Inhabitants and natives from nearby villages also are an indigenous part of the occasion.

Some of the people who grace the marvelous Dance Festival are Vaijyanti – a Kuchipudi dancer, Kathak dancer – Padmashree Kumidini Lakhia and Parul Shah – Bharat Natyam Dancer. The festival has gained popularity as it showcases the participation of the leading enthusiasts such as Padma Vibhushan Sonal Mansingh and her group as well as Bharat Natyam dancer Ilakshiben Thakore.

The tourists thoroughly enjoy this Dance Festival, as they get a chance to see the dance forms of ancient as well as contemporary India simultaneously.


The festival takes place every year in the month of January. The schedule for this year is 21-23rd January. The festival has too much to offer – an experience of the living heritage of Indian dance and music while traversing back in time sitting in the lap of golden history.

Read original article at: