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Culture of Haryana

Dances of Haryana

Ras Leela

This dance is common among the people living in the Braja area of the Faridabad district. Lord Vishnu has been manifest in many incarnations. He is the supreme embodiment. He is Lord Krishna. The Gopis of Braj Bhoomi, the simple milk maid are his true devotees. Krishna chooses them as the finest examples of human beings. Radha, the most beautiful of the Gopis, proud of her beauty and power over men was the last one to surrender to the utter bliss of the lord. Ras Leela becomes a dance of spiritual ecstasy with God pervading the world as his own self and as the selves of the dancing  gopis. The gopis form a circle around a Krishna. In this circular dance the bracelets, the anklets and the bells of the gopis sound together in perfect harmony. Gopis moving in Rhythm, sway their bodies gracefully.

Phag Dance or Phalgun or "Faag" Dance

This is a seasonal dance, through which agricultural people express their joy and vigour. During the month of February -March, they have a little leisure between sowing and harvesting. The crops are growing well, the spring is on and the rural folk express themselves through song and dance. In this dance men and women group together. The rhythm takes them on to emotional expression through their hands, eyes, and feet. The dance involves a variety of movement, requiring sound co-ordination. Women wear traditional costumes in different colours. Men similarly display different colours in their turbans. They sing in the ancient Daamal style, a combination of dance and song, the origin of which dates to the hoary past, it is a mixed dance but some times it is performed by men only. The songs are different in each case.

Daph dance

Daph dance is also a seasonal dance connected with the harvest and spring. It depicts the joyful emotions of the farmers. Men and women of all sections of the village community participate in this dance, separately. For melodic instruments the ancient Haryanavis used flutes, lutes and beens. The daph used in this dance is an ancient instrument. The songs are most suited to the occasion. The sound of the ornaments worn by the women also becomes a part of the dance-orchestra. 

Dhamal Dance

Dhamal dance is as old as the Mahabharatha. It is popular among the Ahirs of Gurgaon district. It is also in vogue in Mahendargarh and Jhajjar. The dance is rooted in the deeper emotions of the people, is performed on moonlit nights of Phalgun. When the winter veil of fog and mist is lifted from the face of the earth and whisper of spring is in the air indeed. The dancers assemble in an open space and form themselves into a circle. They start with a song to the sound of Dhamal beats. The songs sung during the dance relate to the burden of love and labour. They depict the villager's hopes, aspirations, their love -longings and joys and sorrows. Between fifteen and twenty dancers participate in the dance. Old musical instruments like Sarangi, Been, Dholak and Khartals constitute the orchestra. First of all the orchestra men make a line and start playing folk tunes. The dancers move in front of them emerging right and left when the dance starts.


Loor is a well known dance of Haryana. It is performed around the Holi festival and is very popular in the Bangar and Bagar parts of the region. In the Dadri area the term Loor is used for a girl. The participants in this dance are all girls. The dancers stand in two rows facing each other, in the form of a semi circle. One party starts a song in the form of a question. For quite a while they discuss this problem. Finally the proposal is accepted. The next topic is about the presents to be given by the parents of the son to the girl at the time of marriage. Marriage itself is performed through the dance.

Gugga dance

Gugga Pir has several names:-Guru Gugga, Zahir Pir and Bagarwalla. Gugga is worshipped practically all over Haryana and devotees are scattered over the neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal. The dance is very simple. The dancers’ feet move according to the rhythm or their songs. As the tempo increases, they shed tears and beat their chests with iron chains. It is an exclusively male dance and falls in the category of ritualistic dances. It creates an atmosphere charged with spiritual fervour among the devotees of Gugga.

Jhumar dance

This dance takes in the name from Jhumar, an ornament commonly worn on the fore head by young married girls. It is performed exclusively by women. They form a circle and move gracefully, accompanied by the beats of dholak and Thali. The dancers loose themselves in gay abandon, dressed in colourful costumes. The performance lasts several hours. A girl comes forwards and breaks in to song. When girl sing the song, another girl then steps forward, swaying rhythmically with perfect poise. The second line of the song is shared by both. The tempo increases as the dance proceeds. This dance resembles the well-known Punjabi Gidda and is thus named Haryanic Gidda. It is common in all parts of the state.

Ghumar Dance

Some dancers receive their inspiration from religion. The gods and the elements are invoked to shower their blessing on the labours of a community. Ghumar is a Rajasthani dance but it is popular in Laharu, Dadri and some parts of the Hissar and Bhiwani, bordering Rajasthan. The dance is performed by women devotees on their way to the temple. Young women and girls carrying brass plates of offerings in their hands go to the temple singing devotional songs. The dance is performed on Diwali, the festival of lights and Holi, the festivals of spring or on the occasion of the local ceremony of Gangor Puja. Brass plates in their hands, girls make a circle and start singing. The Musicians strike a chord and as soon as the tune begins to take shape and gain momentum, the dancers put their offerings aside forming a large circle and dances gracefully with uplifted arms to the simplest beats.

Khoria Dance

This dance is a variety of Jhumar dance. It is performed by woman only. It is popular in the central areas of Haryana. It is connected with the daily life of the people and with the most important events like harvest. Singing a folk song, the girls enter dancing place and make a ring. The simple movements acquire form and colour with the swirling off their full-gold-work skirts and coloured chundries and the gleam and jingle of heavy rustic jewellery. The graceful steps give place to faster tempo until two or three pairs of the girls break from the ring into the centre with crossed arms joined together swirling on the axis of their feet. In final stage the dance is around the circumference.

Holi Dance

This exuberant dance is connected with the seasonal festival of spring. When the rural community rejoices and relaxes after the completion of their agricultural operations. It is performed in various formations to the accompaniment of drums and pipes. Both men and women participate in this dance. Percussion instruments like dhol, jhajh, chimta, khartal and thalis and anklets on the feet of the dancers produce the rhythm. Abir, gulal and coloured water is sprinkled on each other by the dancers. The dance is accompanied by the Chaupies and Chaumbaulas which sustain performance for hours. Women folk use twisted ropes, Kolars to mock-beat their counterparts. Men in a mood of frivolity wear women's costumes and exhibit their talent in female steps. The men folk not even a guest are spared.

Gangor-Puja Dance

This dance is performed in villages bordering on Rajasthan. It is ceremonial dance of woman in connection with puja ceremony of Iswar and Gangor (Lord Shiva and Pravati) dressed in colourful costumes and Jewellery, with brass jars on their head, the woman move in circle, the movements and the pattern of the dance changing according to the music. The smiles of the dancers are important element in the performance. It is devotional dance to invoke the blessings of the gods for good harvest and is usually performed in the months of palghun and Chait.

Sapela Dance

Women often perform the Sapela dance in which one acts the role of the village belle while the other acts as the snake charmer.

Arts and Crafts of Haryana


Pottery is essentially a village craft, and Haryana is essentially a village state. Although numerous kinds of wheels are used throughout India, in Haryana the kick-operated type is common. The material for making earthen articles comes cheap, and from the earth itself. While the potter works on the wheel, he has helper (usually his son or a relative) mixing clay, while a woman (his wife or a sister) makes intricate designs into the finished vessel or toy. From utensils to toys to decorative pieces, clay forms the most essential ingredient on which the potter literally survives. Seasonal festivals call for the potter to get cracking – he has to make hundreds of toys like miniature cows, horses, people, houses and sepoys which are then sold in brightly decorated stalls along dusty lanes.

Embrodiery & Weaving

Haryana is quite famous for its woven work, be it shawls, dhurries, robes or lungis. The Haryana shawl, an offshoot of the shawl from Kashmir, is a work of art in itself. Known as phulkari, it is a spectacular piece of clothing, full of magnificent colours and intricate embrodiery. Worn with with a tight-fitting choli (blouse) and ghaghra (long skirt), it forms the basic winter wear for the women of Haryana. A deviation from the phulakri is the bagh (garden). In this case, the entire cloth is covered with embrodiery inasmuch that the base cloth is hardly seen.


This is made by female members of a house, and takes a long time to make, sometimes even a few years. Normally only one woman works on the design so that the uniformity is maintained. However, it is no surprise that the other women also contribute in little ways to its creation. Traditionally, work on a phulkari commences from the time a daughter is born in the family and is given to her at her wedding.
Against a red background, motifs of birds, flowers and human figures are stitched into the cloth. The design is fed into the cloth from the reverse side using darning needles, one thread at a time, leaving a long stitch below to form the basic pattern. The stitching is done in a vertical and horizontal pattern as well as variations from this standard format, so that when the phulkari is finally complete the play of light on its shiny surface can do wonders. Satin and silk is also used frequently to enhance the effect.


This design almost always follows a geometric pattern, with green as the basic colour probably because mainly Muslims worked on them. Although lacking in technical finesse, it makes up for the loss by a colourful display of its design. Everything goes into its design – elephants, houses, crops, the sun, the moon, kites, gardens, anything and everything. The embrodiery is worked into khaddar (coarse cotton cloth) with silk thread. Khaddar is cheap and locally available everywhere in India, and in making a bagh narrow pieces are used. Sometimes two or three baghs will be stitched together to for a phulkari.


Another kind of shawl is the Chope, a rather simple affair in comparison to the phulkari and bagh, and is presented to a new bride by her maternal grandmother. The darshan dwar shawl is gifted to a temple by a devotee whose wish has been fulfilled.


Haryana durries are rather coarse, although spectacular geometric designs adorn the entire rug. The Jats of Haryana are known to make durries with white triangles often set against a blue background. In Haryana, durrie making is concentrated in and around Panipat. Karnal is a hot spot for bright robes and lungis (a skirt-like garment worn by men and originally invented by Gautam Buddha), a common garment worn by inhabitants of rural India.


Haryana was always a rendezvous for various tribes, invaders, races, cultures and faiths, going right back to BC 2500, and it witnessed the merging of numerous styles of painting. While references to paintings are to be found of the Aryan period, art actually flourished during the reign of the Guptas (5th century BC to 6th century AD). The Persian style infused with script also gains prominence, especially with murals in which the Persian script is freely used. Elaborate detail forms the central theme within which verses from the Koran are written in various flowing styles, following the calligraphy method.

Mughal paintings also seeped into Hindu temples, especially in Kaithal, Kalayat and Rohtak. Here too, the subject matter is lifted right out of mythology and carry moral and spiritual messages. In Rohtak paintings have been found which are now in possession of the Manuscripts Department of Kurukshetra University. Liberal use of blue, pink, green, orange and red enhance the beauty of these paintings which are of the Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.


Rock and stone were the most common subjects for the development of art, right from the Maurya period to Harshavardhana to the Mughals and the British. However, the Mughals put a stop to carving idols and images out of rock as this was against the very basis of Islam. They went a step further, destroying temples and any such figure which crossed their path. Sculpture in Haryana was concentrated around centrtal and northen parts and was basically religious in content. Vishnu was the most important, and he and his incarnations were enough material for sculptors to start cutting away. A figure of Vishnu found in Kurukshetra is a remarkable piece of art, showing the god with four arms gracefully reclining on the coils of Anantnag, the many-headed snake. This stone figure was probably made in the 10th century AD. Gods formed the basis of sculpture in ancient Haryana, and likewise all over India. Sandstone was widely used, be it green, buff, grey or black. But besides the images of Hindu gods and goddesses, Jain images from the Pratihara period (9th century) have also been found, all made of sandstone. The Buddha also surfaces once in a while, like in Rohtak where he was found seated cross-legged on a lotus pedestal and made entirely of grey stone.


Better known as sang in Haryana, theatre forms an integral part of the state’s culture. Theatre here is usually performed in rural areas, complete with a touch of folklore, music and narration from the sidelines. The word sang is the corrupted form of swang, which literally translated means imitating or disguising. The sang is the rural folk drama which expresses the interplay of love, depicting mythological and modern tales of valour, sacrifice, humour and whatever else comes to mind.


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