The Beautiful Bagpiper -Tunes of the Chholiya Dance
Popularly practiced in the Kumaon region of the state of Uttarakhand, India- Chholiya is an extremely popular dance form. You can also call it a sword dance, which is common at Almora, Bageshwar, Champawat and Pithoragarh. This dance form is more than hundreds of year old and has its roots to the martial traditions of the Kumaoni People.
It has its origins found from over a thousand years back, in the warrings Kshatriyas of Kumaun- the Khasas and Katyuris when marriages were performed at the point of the swords. This all ended in the 10th century when the flux of Rajput immigrants happened and the native Kshatriyas remained as a small minority. Rajput also took hill customs and influenced the kumaoni culture with their own traditions and customs. It was then that the days of marriage on the point of sword were over, but the traditions attached to it still continued.
Which is why the groom is still known as Kunwar in Kumaun. He rides a horse in the marriage procession and wears a Khukri in his belt. Chholiya dance form is performed in marriages because it is believed to be auspicious as it provides protection from evil spirits. It was a common belief that marriage processions and newly married couples are most vulnerable. For this reason Chholiya dance was performed to stop any mis-happenings and bewitching either the procession or the couple.
The dancers carry equipment such as pairs of swords and shields, pairs of regional brass instruments like Turi and Ransing, pairs of percussion instruments like Dhol and damau and pairs of Masakbeen or Bagpiper. These tunes will bring you back closer to the golden days of the Kumaoni Culture. Dressed in the traditional costumes of ancient Kumaon warriors, the dance form is perfectly synchronized and marked with jumps and turns of the body. The dancers also engage in mock sword fighting.
Overall this dance form is an awe-striking for those who watch the dancers to perform it for the very first time.