I have been partaking in cultural dances since as far as I could remember. But I have never truly felt or understood its cultural essence until I visited Rajasthan. People have always publicised the inherent traditions of a place and under-delivered it. However, Rajasthan proved me wrong. I could have included this post as part of my travelogue, but the reason why I am highlighting this in my feature post is simply because this truly was the secondary highlight of my Rajasthan visit.
While The City Palace managed to piss me off with its exorbitant price, Dharohar made an under-priced and yet exclusive impression. Translated as Legacy, Dharohar brilliantly showcases the rich and colorful heritage of Rajasthan. As a tourist, you often do not get to experience such an intriguing lifestyle while you are visiting a place. With that very aim in mind, and also to motivate the cultural awareness of Rajasthan and its artisans, Dharohar in collaboration with WZCC came up with the unique concept of hosting cultural events against a backdrop a heritage place known as Bagore-ki- Haveli.
How to get there
Built adjacent to the picturesque Lake Pichola, Bagore-ki-haveli is a 18th century minature of the City Palace built by the Prime Minister of Mewar, Amir Chand Badwa. Since most of the hotels are located around Lake Picchola itself, you can literally walk down the colorful lanes and arrive at your destination.
Experience of cultural events
Usually people just visit the haveli and move past it to go for the various ferry rides to the palaces located in the middle of the lake. But the small palace with its comfortable sitting arrangement, relatively speaking, comes to life during evening from 6 to 9 PM. With an articulate young man hosting the show, and each dance programs well choreographed to sounds of tabla(Indian drum) and harmonium (Indian piano), the audience will never contemplate any option other than being captivated.
The show starts with a Welcome song in the typical Indian traditional manner where a man blows a shankh (conch) and the other beats the drum in tune with it. This is followed by a prayer in the Marwari language and the audience is welcomed to take a peek into their world.
Then you start listening to the beautiful tinkling sounds of anklets as ladies walk on to the stage wearing the bright, multicolored, traditional Rajasthani cholis with glass work and embroidery. The first dance performed is known as the Ghumar Dance; it is usually associated with the Rajasthani royal families. And this is the reason why, most of the dance is performed by the women dancing with rhythm in a circle with their faces covered in their ghungat (veil). As the temp rises, so does the speed of the elegant orchestrated movement. With a background music called as “padharo mhaare des”, which literally translates to “welcome to my country”, this can be effectively called as a welcome song on a more grander note.
Next up was the Gorbandh Dance which is basically focused on the process of designing decorative strings and ornaments for the camels that they use in their daily life. The faultless labor can be seen in the easy abandon with which the women twirl around in pairs at high speed while holding hands . The sheer joy and happiness on the faces of these performers echoed well with the child inside me, who used to indulge in such activities once upon a time.
Next dance was definitely something very weird and intriguing to watch. Gavri Dance is a fusion of act and dance dedicated to the fight between Goddess Amba and Demon Bhiamwal and reflects the tradition of the Bheel tribe of Rajasthan. All the artists are natives of the tribe, which makes it more authentic. It was literally weird to see Goddess Amba with masculine features, but I think the talent should be appreciated more than what personal feelings you have.
The host kept the audience engaged with his lively description of each dance and their significance, which helped in making the foreign tourists more comfortable. Not many “authentic” shows manage to achieve this kind of involvement from the audience. The increasing tempo of the claps and cheers from the audience complemented well with the music and made the night more lively.
The next dance performance is a traditional dance from the Gujjar community of nothern Rajasthan. Popularly known as the Chari Dance where chari/ charu means water pot made of metal. Since the women of Rajasthan live their life carrying vessel on their head, the dance is dedicated to the simple lifestyle which the communities lead. One must give credit to the performers for the talent and precision with which they carry a ignited brass pot on their head and then stat twirling around.
But my two favorite programs would be the Terah Taal Dance and the Bhavai Dance. I don’t think I could stop myself from dropping my jaw to the ground; neither could I stop my camera from being a mad clicker.
Terah Taal Dance aka 13 beats is one of the most fascinating dance that I have ever seen. Originally a tradition of the Kamada tribe of Rajasthan, the performers sits down and carry a set of brass pots on their head, and play 13 different manjiras (bells) tied to their hands and legs while coordinating each movement with the rhythm of the music. At one point, they also hold a knife in their mouth. While the convenience of the posture may seem simple, the precision and the level of technicality reveals talent of supreme order.
Rajasthani art and music is usually considered incomplete without the Puppet shows. The entire show is technically advertised as The Puppet Show, so of course when finally the Puppet show was brought forward, it definitely created more excitement among the audience. Generally in puppet shows, the puppeteer controls the puppet from behind the curtain. However, at Dharohar, the whole art and technicalities involved behind a simple puppet is shown to the audience in order to create a better appreciation of the art and to show acknowledgement to the talent of these puppet masters. It was quite extraordinary to observe the ease, comfort and familiarity with which the master played with each body part of the puppet.
The grand finale of the night was the Bhavai Dance. It is one of the most interesting and challenging dance that I have ever witnessed in my life. As the host explained, this dance originates from the desert area of Rajasthan where women often cover a long distance from their home to fetch water while balancing vessels on her top of head. This dance represents the gratification of getting water, which makes them forget the pain of carrying weight over their head.
The dance starts when the performer start the shows with 2 pots on her head, while performing various tricks like dancing on the edge of a metallic plate and over pieces of glass. As the dance progresses, there are more pots stacked on top of her plate, until there were 13 pots are being balanced. Don’t believe me? Let pictures speak for itself.
Tips for tourists:
- The charges are quite minimal, and honestly after seeing the show I honestly feel its under-rated and under-appreciated.
Cultural Event: Rs. 100/-
Additional charge for the camera: Rs. 50/-
- Don’t forget your camera. And don’t forget to charge the battery. Trust me, you will not stop clicking.
- Surprisingly, they are punctual. So try to reach at least half an hour before the show.
The show starts sharp at 7 P.M and will end by 8 P.M. In case, the tourists are large, they might contemplate having a second show.
- Seating arrangements are actually on the floor and quite comfortable. Opt to pay extra for the camera so that you get to sit towards the front and get the best view and pictures. Since your feet might get numb after the end of this hour-long program, you might prefer to be comfortable and try to keep little leg space.
- By the time the show ends, the evening view of the Pichola Lake from the Gangaur Ghat is quite impressive.