Charkula Folk Dance, Uttar Pradesh

Charkula dance form is an integral part of the cultural background of the Braj area in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The Charkula dance form dates back to many centuries. Many legends are connected with the origin of Charkula dance. These dances are performed dedicating to the popular Hindu God, Lord Krishna. Veiled women dances on the rhythm of ‘rasiya’ which are songs dedicated to Krishna and his consort Radha. According to one legend, mother of Radha rushed outside to give the news of the birth of Radha while carrying charkula or oil lamps of her head. Another legend related to the birth of this dance is based on the story of Krishna’s ‘Govardhan leela’ where He lifted the Govardhan hillock and held it on his finger to save the villagers from the wrath of the rain God, Indra.

The Charkula dance is performed in the auspicious days mainly on the third day of Holi, which according to popular believe is the day Radha was born. Girls in long skirt and colourful blouse cover their faces with veil. The performers carry a large vibrant coloured circular wooden pyramid on their head while dancing. These wooden pyramids have 108 lighted lamps. These are known to be the charkulas. These also signifies the lifting of the Govardhan Hillock by Krishna which is re – enacted by the milkmaids of Mathura. The movements of the dancers are limited due to the heavy load on their head. Still they manage to synchronize with the beats of the drums and the tune of the song with graceful moves like gliding, bending and whirling.

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