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Cultural Heritage: Dance & Music

Indian Cultural Heritage

Indian Dance


Indian dancing is a way of communication using the body as a medium. The expressions of dances are perhaps most developed, yet easily understood. Indian dance is a blend of Nirtta (the rythemic movement of the body without any expression of emotion), Nirtya (the combination of rhythm with expression through eyes, hands and facial movements) and Natya (the dramatic element). Dance is performed with Abhinaya(expression), rasa (emotion) and mudras(hand formations). All Dances are structured around 'nava rasas'(the common emotions of happiness, anger, disgust, fear, sorrow, courage, compassion, wonder and serenity) with limited adaptation to local requirements. Most Indian dances take their themes from indian mythology and folk legends.

There are a number of classical dance forms such as 'Bharatnatyam', 'Kathak', 'Kathakali', 'Kuchipudi', 'Manipuri', 'Mohiniyattam' and 'Odissi' each representing the culture of a particular region of the country.

Apart from classical dances, India is also rich in folk idioms. Chauu dance of Bihar, Garba of Gujarat, Bangra of Punjab and Banjara of Andra Pradesh are a few of them.

Indian Folklore


No ancient civilization can boast of literature without folklore. It was essentially oral in nature and there is no form or technique that can either create or render folklore. This art form was passed on orally by elders to the younger generations. Folk songs are simple in terms of verses and music unlike the classical music which follows ragas, talas and shrutis.

There are many kinds of folklore depending on its content such as festival songs, work songs, marriage songs etc. Festival and religious songs are usually accompamied by a suitable dance form.

Indian Music

Nagaswaram, Indian Musical Instrument

As in dance, the nine emotions are basic to the Indian music. The 'raga' the basic musical mode is rendering the seven musical notes. 'Tala' binds the music altogether. With the help of tala and shrutis the musician can create numerous variations in feelings.

Basically there are two dominant styles of music in India; the South Indian Carnatic music and the North Indian Hindustani music. Through the styles are distinct, many features and underlying philosophy are the same.

Foreign influences due to invasions are more evident in Hindustani music. Inventions of various musical instruments are attibuted to the gods and godesses. Popular musical instruments such as Sitar, Veena, Tabala, Shehnai, Nagaswaram etc are the contribution of india to the world.