Folk dances of Bihar

The Blend of Fun and folk

Various archaeological finds in Bihar have proved beyond doubt that dancing had a pre-eminent place in the social life of Bihar. Bihar can proudly boast of a rich cultural heritage in the form of folk dances.Theatrically most effective are the short narrative dances in which the performers gesticulate and dance a short mythological episode, while the chorus sings the text elucidating the mimetic action.It has to be mentioned that some of the traditional forms of dances in Bihar have been kept up by men of communities supposedly inferior in the social hierarchy.Every year a Folk Dance Festival is held at New Delhi in connection with the Republic Day celebrations featuring colourful dances from all over the country.Bihar also sends its dance troupes to participate in the celebrations.
Biharis have proved their creativity in the performance of folk dancing. Numerous dance styles namely gond nach, Som Chakwa, dhobi nach, jhumarnach, manjhi, jitiyanach, more morni, kathghorwa nach, jat jatin, launda nach, bamar nach, jharni jhijhia, natua nach, bidapad anch, sohrai nach still prevail in villages in Bihar

The gods and goddesses are invoked through the religious dance forms in Bihar from good old times. Mention may be made of Ram-lila Nach, Kirtaniya Nach, Kunjvasi Nach and Naradi Nach, Bhagata Nach, Vidapat Nach and Puja Art Nach in this category. Minimum use is made of musical instruments and dancer performs the dances without humming the tune 
Bidesia-the most famous Folk-drama of Bihar

Social dances include group dances for men and women separately as well as in mixed group
. The musical instruments used, as in the case of the religious type of dances, are Dhol(Drum), Pipahi (Shahnai like instrument), Manjira, Jhanz, Mridang, Sarangi, Dhak, Pakhawaj, Danka etc. The group dances for men are performed to the accompaniment of songs and musical instruments. The footwork is carefully kept in tune with the Swar and Tal of music. In the case of group dances for women alone, such care is not taken. The women dance in the courtyard of their houses, forming a circle with their hands trucked with one another.

Among such dances are Bidesia, Jhihiya Nach, Jata-Jatin Nach, Som Chakwa Nach etc. Saturi Nach is the only dance form in which both men and women join in a group. There is also a Bakho Nach, in which the husband and wife dance together on the occasion of the birth of a child in the family  and in similar festive occasion.

Some of the popular folk dances of Bihar  


Bhikhari Thakur-the legend

Bidesia was first time appeared in Bhojpuri film, Bidesia, released in 1963, directed by S.N. Tripathi>>
Bhikhari Thankur (1887-1971) composed his famous Bidesia ballet in Bhojpuri and propagated the tenets of democracy.Bidesia is mainly a lyrical drama full of the pains of separation .The Bidesia form of stage narrates entire process of migration on stage. The plot of Bidesia revolves round its hero called Bidesi who emigrates to Calcutta driven by its charms.The unfortunate women continued their bidesia to sing out the pain from their "crushed and broken" hearts: jeeyra daraye ghaat kyon nahi aaye ho beete din kaee bhaye maas re bidesia aayee ghaat dekha fijiya ke tapua ho bhaya mun hamra ...The theme of unequal marriages is popular also in the Bidesia plays of Bihar. The Bidesia in its present form is a recent phenomenon, about 50 or 60 years old, but it seems to be the continuation of an older tradition.

The dances of Bhikhari Thakur, popularly known as Bidesia nach, have for their themes satire on some aspects of the social evils like child marriage, dowry system etc. Elements of drama too were introduced in the dance in as much as the songs have dialogues divided by wits and epigrams. In Bidesia, the female roles are played by the male actor-dancers. Normally, they wear dhoti or shirt trousers and for the appearance in case of female roles, they are artificial long haired for the same. Though many new means of communication and entertainment are developed recently, Bedesia remains the most popular and refreshing relaxation for the Bhojpuris. 

Bidesia virtually gave voice to many social concerned topics like the cause of poor labourers and tried to create awareness about the poor status of women in the Bhojpuri society. 

Jat-Jatin Dance 
Theme of the Jat-Jatin dance of Bihar explains the story of the lovers Jat-Jatin, who were separated and living in difficult situations The Jata-Jatin dance has for its theme songs invoking rains. It is also known as Yakaha Nirtya and mostly is in accompaniment to the songs. The steps are lively and vigorous with delicate bodily movements, four steps forward and an equal number back. It being a dance only for girls, they fall into two groups, one Jata and the other Jatin. The dance starts with an invocation to Yakasha and a prayer for rains. The rhythm is kept to six, seven or eight beats i.e., Dadra, Teevta and Kerwa, Foot patterns are not very intricate but the movements of the limbs are graceful and soothing.

Jhijhia dance 
Jijya or Jhijhia is one of the most eminent dances of Bihar, Jhijhia depicts a band of young belles adoring and offering.Rain plays crucial role in agriculture. When there is a total drought and there is not even a single drop of water anywhere, the lands are cracked and parched, the sky is lifeless without clouds and the people are awaiting rains-this is the time when the village women pray to lord Indra for rain. They sing and dance to please the Lord of Rain with their deep devotion. Such type of dance and singing is called jhijhia.

This is the message of the most eminent folk dance of Bihar. The performers for this ritualistic dance include a lead singer, harmonium player, bansuri player and a drummer to play the dholak. There are two female singers popular for their rhythmic language, sweet songs appealing music.

Jumari Dance
The folk dance of Jumari is performed especially in Mithilanchal of Bihar. This dance of Bihar is similar to that of ‘ Garba performed in Gujarat.’ Only married women performs, hence it also signifies a good omen. After the month of Ashvin in September- October, the next one is the Kartik month and at this time, the sky becomes crystal clear, without any traces of clouds. The full moon looks attractive and spreads its milky rays in all directions. Such a romantic atmosphere gets the married women to go on dancing, singing and celebrating the funs of the season. Actually, Jumari is related to the season.

Kajari Dance

The pleasant change that has come due to the rainy season. Not only the change in the nature, but also the mental refreshment and relaxation that is associated with human beings is well described in these kinds of songs. Kajari songs produce a sweet sensation body and it is sung from beginning of the shravan month with the rhythmic note of raindrops.

Sohar-Khilouna Dance

Sohar, having its own distinctive diction, is a ceremonial dance to celebrate the pleasure of new birth in a family. It is celebrated all
over the country with different traditional rituals. Sohar is sung in Bihar on the occasion of birth of a child. While singing, ladies praise the child with Lord Rama, sometimes with Lord Krishna and with many other gods. This is a very important function, where all women gather and enjoy. The ladies bless the baby while singing and acting the tender words of Sohar ‘Marchia baithal sasu pucheli’. --employed as a single unit, as his language. This body language is extremely poetic and powerful. The legs form an effective means of communicating the expression. Although the face is covered by the mask it mysteriously expresses the feelings to be communicated.


Holi is a festival of colours celebrated all over the country. People celebrate it on the first day of the Hindu Calendar, that is Pratham Chairtra Mass’ (February-March). The well known festival Holi conveys the message for religious integration apart from any sort of bigotism. In Bihar, a typical style ‘Dhamar of holi song is sung in which the villagers 
celebrate it in a form of group with full joy and dance with musical instruments like dholak, Jhal-manjeera, etc. This dance is related to the mythical story of Bhakt Prahlad and his demon father Hiranyakshipu. 


 Traditionally Domkach is played in Mithila region. The word kacchab means in old Maithili to play the role of or to mimic some one. So, domkach means ‘playing other’s role by the men of dominant caste’ 
The ladies bless the baby while singing abd acting the tender words of Sohar “Marchia Baithal sasu pucheli”

There are various other forms like the Dhangar of Purnea and the flok dances of the non-tribles in the belt  .There is also a Bakho Nach, in which the husband and wife dance together on the occasion of the birth of a child in the family, and similar festive occasion.

Needless to say, Bihar has a very rich tradition of dancing in its pristine quality. The need of the hour is to protect such dance forms from the influences of urbanisation so that even in ages to come, people can still remember.

  • Tourism Perspective in Bihar, Author Nishi Sinha,Publisher APH Publishing, 1999
  • Folk dance traditions of India,Author Shovana Narayan,Publisher Shubhi Publication, 2004
  • Article of C.P.Chandan in Pratiyogita Darpan Jul 2009