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Ras Dance

The folk dances in Gujarat are the symbol of the Gujarati heritage and culture. The dances are full of vibrancy and colour and have found appreciation across India and overseas. The folk dances not only are a way of expressing devotion but also a way of expressing the values and culture of the region.

The festival of Navratri is often associated with lots of music and dancing. One of the most famous dance forms in the Ras Dance, which is believed to have existed since ages. The dance form is said to have originated from the Saurashtra and Kutch area.

Ras Dance

The Ras Dance is performed in different ways. The main aspect of all these forms is that it is performed by men and women moving in circles. The dance is performed by even number of dancers. The Ras Dance is also said to be a type of dance performed by the female cowherds or the Gopikas for Lord Krishna. The Ras or the Rasaka Dance is of three types.

The Danda Rasaka is the Ras Dance where sticks or dandas are used. The dandia form of the Ras 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.

The Tala Rasaka also known as the Mandala is the dance where hands are used for clapping.

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

Another type of the Ras Dance is the Gof. In this dance form the dancers hold coloured strings that are attached at the top together. The dancers then move in different patterns weaving and un-weaving beautiful designs.

In Saurastra, the community of Mer are well-known for their folk dance known as Mer Raas. The white shepherds perform the Gher Raas whereas the agriculturists from south Gujarat perform the Gheria Raas.

Tippani is a traditional community dance, which is performed to symbolize the activities of the community. This dance is performed with long sticks known as Tippani. The music played has a typical rhythmic beat.

The Hallisaka is also a group dance and holds a lot of importance in the Harivamsa Purana. This dance is performed with joined hands forming a chain. The rhythm of the dance is maintained by clapping and is also accompanied by singing. In this Ras Dance a young man dressed as Krishna stands in the middle of women who dance around him.


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.

Overseas Admiration of the Ras Dance

Different forms of Ras Dance have gained recognition across the globe. The main forms of the Ras Dance admired abroad are the Dandiya Raas and the Garba Raas. During festivities the Gujarati community residing abroad make arrangements for performing the different Ras Dance forms.

Costumes and Music

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. Men wear a short shirt and tight trousers accompanied with a head covering.

The Ras Dance songs vary depending on the type of dance that is being performed. These songs are usually centred on the subject different deities such as Lord Krishna, the nine forms of Goddess Durga, etc. The music is quite traditional and makes use of instruments such as the dhol, tabla, harmonium and the nal. The music these days has transformed these days and several new instruments are being used.

Similarities Between the Types of Ras Dance

The Ras Dance has its own essence in different communities and is expressed differently in various parts of Gujarat. However, each form of the Ras Dance holds its importance and is quite energetic and colourful.

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