Raas Folk Dance of Gujarat

Raas Dance of Gujarat

The festival of Navratri is often associated with lots of music and dancing. One of the most famous dance forms in the Raas Dance, which is believed to have existed since ages. The dance form is said to have originated from the Saurashtra and Kutch area. The word Ras originates from the Sanskrit word “Rasa” meaning “juice or essence”. It denotes the emotions and the mental state of the artist that is depicted in the dance. The idea of rasa is important to several forms of art such as music, dance, cinema, literature, etc.

Dandiya Raas is one of the popular dance forms which is mainly performed in the city of Lord Krishna, Vrindavan. But Dandiya raas is performed during the eve of Navratri in the state of Gujarat. The word Ras in `Dandia-Ras` signifies Ras dance, which is, considered a form of Ras Leela. Ras Leela, which was an inseparable part of Lord Krishna`s childhood action he used to perform at Gokul and Vrindavan. The Ras is simple and is generally performed by a group of youthful people.There is a set up of Mandvi around which all the people moves and play Dandiya in a very joyful manner. Women are the major participants in this dance form who enjoyed playing. The Dandiya Raas dance originated as devotional Garba dances, which were performed in Goddess Durga’s honor. This dance form is actually the staging of a mock-fight between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king. This dance is also nicknamed ‘The Sword Dance’. The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Goddess Durga.

Today, Raas is not only an important part of Navaratri in Gujarat but extends itself to other festivals related to harvest and crops as well.
Mer Raas
In the Mer Raas, the dance begins on a slow note but the tempo speeds up during the performance. The white shepherds perform the Gher Raas whereas the agriculturists from south Gujarat perform the Gheria Raas.
Danda Raas
The Danda Raas is the Raas Dance where sticks or dandas are used. The dandia form of the Raas is native to Gujarat and is performed by men and women with small sticks. The Danda Raas is the most popular folk art form and has gained admiration all around the country.

Gher Raas
Members of the shepherd community perform the 'Gher Raas' using long sticks.

Gheria Raas
Another agricultural community performs the 'Gheria Raas' holding a stick in one hand and a peacock feather in the other.

Gof Gunthan
Yet another variation of the Dandiya Raas is the Gof Gunthan in which dancers carry sticks in only one hand, and a length of colored string in the other. The latter is woven into a unique pattern as they move around in a circle.
Tala Raas
The Tala Rasaka also known as the Mandala is the dance where hands are used for clapping.

Lata Raas   
The Lata Rasaka is the dance where dancers grip one another and dance like a creeping plant clinging to a tree.

Musical Instrument Used In Raas Dance :-

The musical instruments like the dhol, table, harmonium, naal, cymbals, zanz, shehnai (flute) is played in the Raas dance. The Ras Dance songs vary depending on the type of dance that is being performed. The music these days has transformed these days and several new instruments are being used.

Costumes of Raas Dance:-

The costumes worn during the Ras Dance are typically very bright and colourful. The traditional costume for women consists of ghaghara a long skirt, a choli or the blouse and an odhani or the head cover. The attire is ornated with beautiful beaded and silver jewellery. Women adorn themselves with necklaces, heavy earrings, bangles, amulets, anklets, head decorations, etc. The male members wear Kedia which is a small coat and Kurta with tight sleeves, having pleated frills at the waist and the borders are embroidered. Tight trousers, colorful turbans and kamarbandha (waist band) are also a part of the attire.   

Picture of Raas Dance :-

Video's of Raas Dance :-

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