Bhavai Dance in Rajasthan

Bhavai Dance-

Bhavai is one of the traditional folk dances of Rajasthan. This is a very difficult form of dance and can only be performed by skilled artists. This dance basically involves women dancers balancing 8 to 9 pitchers on their heads and dancing simultaneously. This nail biting , suspenseful dance, the well skilled dancers balance a number of earthen pots or brass picthers and then sway with the soles of their feet perched on the top of a glass and also sometime on the edge of a naked sword or on the rim os a brass thali (plate) during the performance.

Bhavai (meaning strolling players) is a popular folk theatre form of Gujarat. Veshas (costume) or Bhavai dance dramas are also known as Swang (vaudeville /melodrama).

Bhavai is as much a form of entertainment as it is a kind of ritual offering made to the goddess Amba. In the courtyard of the Ambaji temple near Mount Abu the Navratri festival is celebrated with a good many Bhavai performances. Amba (mother goddess) is the presiding deity of Bhavai performances. According to scholars, the term Bhavai is composed of two words- Bhava and Aai. Bhava means universe and Aai is mother; together they signify the mother of the universe, Amba.

A salient feature of the Bhavai is subtle social criticism laced with pungent humour. Some of the Bhavai dance-dramas present a scathing review of the caste-ridden social structure. People belonging to divergent social strata, from the king to the pauper are portrayed in Bhavai. Humor plays a vital role in a Bhavai performance, which is evident enough even while dealing with mythological personages..

The language of Bhavai is a blend of Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, and Marwari.

The musical instruments accompanying Bhavai performances are the pakhwaj (an indigenous drum), jhanjha (cymbals), sarangi (a stringed instrument), and the harmonium.

The music is Hindustani classical , interspersed with local tunes. A characteristic instrument of the Bhavai is the bhungal – a four feet long copper pipe, played during dance sequences and also to indicate the entry of important characters.

Bhavai (Rajasthan)

A folk dance of the same name exists in Gujarat’s neighbouring state of Rajasthan.In Rajasthan, this spectcular dance form consists of veiled women dancers balancing nearly seven or nine brass pitchers as they dance dexterously, pirouetting and swaying with the soles of their feet perched on top of a glass or on the edge of a sword. There is a sense of nail-biting susupense as the perfermance reaches a crescendo.

The culture and the traditions are both alive and being forever experimented in the State of Gujarat. Blend with vibrant colours of yester years to modernity, it still has its roots deeply leading to revival of traditional past.

The Stage in Gujarat is vibrant with its own traditional ‘Bhavai’ – a unique stage art form, performed with ‘Bhava’, meaning expression revealing emotions. It’s real meaning is made up of two words – Bhava and Aai. Bhava means universe and aai is mother, together it means mother of the universe, Amba. Exclusively performed by male members in various costumes and character forms . A long wind brass instrument called ‘Bhungal’ is played during the performance to call performing characters to the scene. Drums, cymbals and Sarangi are other instruments made use of. Bhavai is mostly held in open space. Women are mere audience to the ‘Bhavai’ performance as this folk dance play is strictly performed by males in women’s role too.

Traditionally, most popular theme of ‘Ramleela’ was performed earlier at places in Gujarat based on Ramayana and Mahabharata which was on pre-existing mythological or historical themes that were familiar to the audience of bygone era.Bhavai-Folk Drama dance Garba and Raas hallisaka However, Bhavai has gained popularity with change of time as medium of entertainment. It is a kind of ritual offering made to Goddess Amba. In the courtyard of the Ambaji temple near Mount Abu the Navratri festival is celebrated with Bhavai performances. Amba is the presiding deity of Bhavai.

Bhavai plays in Gujarat, also convey social messages through its play based on Humour form, which reflect on social stigmas i.e. injustice, criticism, caste differences or just about any topic that calls for a concern. The chief of the Bhavai Troupe is the ‘Nayak’ and he remains on the stage directing the course of action

with commentary and intervention alongwith the Jester. The script unfolds through dialogues, songs, speeches in prose and verse with a lot of singing and dancing. The main humour is of ‘Ranglo’ and ‘Ranglee’ which attract the audience.Bhavai evolved into one of Gujarat’s energitic folk music and drama.

Gujarat has a cultural mix as per it’s various regions. As such, Tippani Nritya, Siddi dance, Padhar Nritya, Dangi Nritya and other local tribal dances are major dance forms in celebration.

Sanedo is yet another striking resemblance to Bhavai with topics that can be anything from Romance, Youth or Satire. Sung at Navratri festivals and weddings, it’s origin is from Patan in Gujarat. The dance theme is also adopted in all Gujarat cities and is gaining popularity as it reaches far and wide in Britain and US.

Gujarat is popular for Gujarati drama and films. The stage shows are gaining more popularity among Gujaratis all over the world. Street plays, one act plays etc are being held in Gujarat with ever rising concerns of day to day chores.

Gujarat Rajya Sangeet and Natak Academy promotes the Stage artists with Awards and performances held to commemorate some of the finest artists of Gujarat.

Sanskrit plays were very popular and were staged in ancient times all over India. Gujarat is once again poised for the Sanskrit Plays and set up platforms to strengthen the activities soon.

Bhavai is one of the traditional folk dances of Rajasthan. This is a very difficult form of dance and can only be performed by skilled artists. This dance basically involves women dancers balancing 8 to 9 pitchers on their heads and dancing simultaneously. This nail biting , suspenseful dance, the well skilled dancers balance a number of earthen pots or brass picthers and then sway with the soles of their feet perched on the top of a glass and also sometime on the edge of a naked sword or on the rim os a brass thali (plate) during the performance.

This artistic form of dance is belived to be originated in the neigbouringing state Gujrat and was soon picked up and adapted by the local tribal men and women and gave it a distinctive Rajasthani essence. This traditional folk dance, performed by the womens of the Jat, Bhil, Raigar, Meena, Kumhar, and Kalbelia communities of Rajasthan evolved from the extraordinary quality and capacity of the these communities to carry a number of pots of water on head over a long distance in the desert.

Bhavai dance Elements

The male musician, playing the background music are the accompaniment of this artistic Bhavai dancers. Generally a melodious Rajasthani folk song are being sung by the musicians, adding to beauty of the Bhavai dance. Many instruments like pakhwaja, dholak jhanjhar, sarangi, harmonium are played while the performance of the Bhavai dance as a background music. The dancers are adorned beautifully. They are dressed traditionally in colourful Rajasthani dresses, making the dance more attractive.

Bhavai Dance Celebration

On many occasions Bhavai dance is performed. In festive occasion as well as in marriages also Bhavai dance performance can be seen. The government has taken all necessary measures to revive this fast dying tradition of folk dance. Many non government organizations are also taking active role in the promotion of this folk culture. This artistic folk dance is promoted in different part of India as well as overseas also.

Videos -