Dhamali Dance

India known for a number of things like its rich culture, wealth and ancient history is also very popular for its different kinds of dances. There are a number of classical and non-classical dance forms in India. These dance forms represent the culture and ethos of a place or a group of people. Different emotions and actions are depicted in various dance forms. It can be devotional form of dance or the dance can depict happiness, anger and sadness. The Indian dances always bear a message and a story in them. Based on the category and style of dance they are performed only by certain age people to bring out the effectiveness of the dance and the message it carries. Dhamali is one such dance that originated in the northern region of India. This is a devotional dance performed exclusively by men to invoke the blessings of Gods on them and their families. Dhamali dance traces its roots back to Kashmir.


Dhamali devotional dance performed in ceremonies and is very famous among pilgrims going on Ziarat where the shrine of the god is located.

Traditionally, the Dhamali dance evolved from originated from the widely known tomb of Moulana Rumi. This is situated in Turkey in a town called Konya. In turkey, Sultan Walad Sultan was the founder of the Mawlawiyah Sufi order. This is also called the ‘Order of the Whirling Dervishes’. The Sufi dance in turkey is called as Sama ceremony. The artists who perform the sama ceremony are called as Dervishes. The dance was more famously known as Dervishes dances which later came to be known by Kashmir’s Dhamali Dance.

This dance is mainly pertained with Sufi saints. Abul Fuqra also called known as Baba, father of the poor is told to have dedicated his total life supporting orphans, the poor and homeless people. Baba in his days had set up a huge kitchen to feed the hungry no matter what they did for a living. These feeding places were called Langer. Baba spent his life spreading Sufi philosophy of Islam to people to improve their quality of life and save them from the evil activities they indulge in. He has built many Khanquahs and Mosques. According to history, Baba has built over 1200 mosques and Khanqahs. Dhamali is a dance performed by the people to pay respect and honor the dignified saint. This dance is performed by the disciples of Baba and his Sufi teachings. They are called the Damali Fakirs. They are usually from places like Wathura, Kalishah Sahib, Imam Sahib, Chambagund, Parigam, etc.

Baba Naszeeb Ud Din Gazi who was born in Pakistan followed the Mawlawiyah Sufi order and preached the same to his people with the intention to bring people together and distribute work and alms together for their well being. In the days that followed Baba Naszeeb Ud Din Gazi unfortunately the Dhamali dance was not preserved in its purest form. It transformed into a kind of a folk dance of the particular area.

Urs of Baba Naseeb Ud Din Gazi

Urs of Baba Naseeb Ud Din Gazi is the most popular celebrated Sufi of Kashmir who follows mysticism. This is celebrated with utmost ardor and excitement in the southern region of Kashmir. The festival takes place in Baba Mohalla. This is located in the beautiful town Bijbehara which is very old. The whole place is made colorful with lights with the whole shrine decorated with bridal garments and ornaments. Hundreds of devotes from the southern parts of Kashmir arrive at this place and swarm the tom of Baba Naszeeb Ud Din Gazi. This dance festival is celebrated continuously year after year to mark the birth of saint Baba Naszeeb Ud Din Gazi.

The most popular attention seeking event of Urs of Baba Naseeb Ud Din Gazi is the Sufi dance is also known to the people by Dhamali Dance. Dhamali Fakir’s dressed in their traditional clothes dance to the music of various instruments to bring out the respect for Baba. The Dhamali Fakirs is led by a flag bearer in a procession. The flag bearer latter fixes the flag which is the “Flag of Alam” on the ground and the Dhamali Fakirs form a circle around the flag pole and start performing their traditional dance. The beats of the drums and the sound of the Sufi dancers are heard from all the corners of the valley including the interior lanes of the valleys. The music and dance by the Sufi dancers is enjoyed by the children and women of the southern region of Kashmir though they are not allowed to participate in the dance themselves.

The Unfortunate

The once famous Dhamali dance that is many centuries old has almost disappeared from the Kashmir culture due to many reasons. One of the primary reasons being that Dhamali Faqir have lost their interest for the dance and are looking for better ways to make their living by migrating to different places. Second reason is the indifferent attitude of the government to the Sufi dancers and their traditions.

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