Gidha Folk Dance

Dr S P Srivatas
Like bhangara folk dance this folk dance is also an imported folk dance from Punjab to Jammu region. Its actual place of origin is said to be the Malba belt of east Punjab. With the influence of the Punjabi culture in lower Jammu (upto Jammu city) it seems as if this dance is very much a part of the cultural heritage of this region. Late Vishwanath Khajuria is right to say- “Because of very cordial relations with the neighbouring state Punjab the inhabitants of the lower Jammu region have adopted this dance as their own dance. It is a peculiarity of the Indian culture that every region or State of this country absorbs some aspects or tenets or customs of the neighbouring state’’ (Shiraja Dogri, Sanskriti ank P. 70).
This folk dance being very favourable folk dance of the young ladies is becoming more and more popular in the lower part of this region, especially in Educational institutions and also is adopted by the cultural troups of the cultural organisations including J&K Cultural Academy which train  their troups for participating in different competitive cultural programmes at state level as well as National level.
The paes and rhythemical postures-adopted during the performance of this dance resembles very much in bhangara dance. I
I. Lok nach gidha-Itihasak te sabhiacharak paripreksha- Gurinder Kour, A dissertation submitted for M. Phil Degree in Jammu University 1998 P. 93
As both these dances are thrilling and ever green by nature yet both have disimilarity also. Whereas bhangara dance  being a dance of men folk exclusively contains somewhat hardness, on the other hand the gidha dance of the women folk is very tender by nature which attracts the attention of spactators more quickly. It is a known fact that this dance is performed by the women folk only but according to Gurinder Kaur in Malba belt it is exception in this respect where it is performed by the men folk also sometimes jointly with women folk whereas sometimes exclusively by them only.
It is also a peculiarity of the gidha dance of the men folk in Malba belt that they name their dancing group either after a village or any well known person, such as Midial Ka gidha or Pal bhuloor di toli (group). It is a  peculiarity of the Malba belts gidha that it is performed mainly by the professional artists who for the sake of earning their livelihood go for its performance whenever they are invited to do so.
During their performance they mostly concentrate on folk songs. With the result they are more popular  as folk musicians than folk dancers of the gidha dance. Moreover, the very technique they adopt to perform this dance is also of the different nature as they perform their gidha while  sitting on their feet contrary to their women counterparts who perform by standing in two circles i.e outer circle and inner circle. But it is a rare phenomenon that they ever join their women folk to perform this dance with them.
It is also to be pointed out here that this dance is performed mainly on the occasion of marriage ceremonies, betrothal ceremonies and at the time of child’s birth or during a religious or socio-cultural festivals. Even then it is  not a hard and fast rule as it depends on the liking of  the party concerned whenever they desire they go far its performance. In Malba belt the householders firstly do invite a well known singer so that he by his song concentrates to accelerate the mode of gidha dance to be started soon after that.
The entire group of gidha comprise eight to twenty five participants. Besides  they have one folk singer two recitars of bolians one drum beater, one tumbta player, one pitcher beater and two chimata players. At the very outset all the participants of this dance (ladies) gorgeously dress themselves sin Kameaz, Salwars and chunnis of the different colours.  Then barring two or more as the case may be they stand in two circles i.e outer circle and the inner circle. Thereafter, two ladies standing nearby start singing folk song or recite bolians in melodious but in sorrows voices too. Then they start moving with eight on one foot again start reciting bolian with dance. Then following them all other participants also resort to dancing movements with sheer abandon and raise their hands in unison. Thereafter, by and by they adopt an enchanting rhythm by which all the spactators standing alround become spel-bound with that bewitching scene.
Sometimes this dance is danced by a group of three girls or ladies who suddenly snap their fingures and clap their hands alternately and also clap on the hands of their partners. This is a charactistic movement of the Gujrat Garba dance also.
Thereafter another group of the two ladies come out of the circle replaced by the first one and start reciting boli or bolians. This process goes on till  all of them take their turn by and by in group of two each and recite their bolians of their liking. For  example some bolians are quoted here :
i) Kithon di main jammi jai
te kithon gai byahi?
Koonjan Vanger Phiran Namani
Jang Vich Gaya Mahi.
ii) Hardam Nir Vage Vichon Naina
Adon Di Chithi Na Pai
Mud Ayo Sapahiya Bhi,
Main Jindadi Ghol Ghamai
(i) Where I was born and where I have been married. O roam hither and thither in melancholy like the bird koonj as my husband has gone to attend war.
ii) The tears always role down from my eyes, as no letter has been received since long. O my soldier come back as I have spoiled my life. One more example of the bolians is as under :-
Pind Mittaran De Ai, Nach  Kudie
Nach Kudie
Pa De Gidhe Ch Duhai Nach Kudie
Tere nile niie nain, Karan Dil Noon Baichain
Nach Kudie Nach Kudie
Aya Saun Da Mahina, Kare Dhak Dhak Sina
Mahindi Hathan Utte Lai, Nakka Natham Sajai
Nach Kudie Nach Kudie
I have come to the village of my friends. O girl dance and dance  and again and again and give a thrilling fillip in gidha dance. Your blue eyes give a painful trouble to my mind.
O girl, dance again and again.
The month of Savan has set in which creates a palpitation in my heart. I have applied henna on my hands and nose has been decorated with nath ornament. O girl, dance and dance again and again.
After the recitations of these bolians have been completed all the ladies standing in one or two circles start dancing while clapping their respective hands. Then the drums and earthen pitchers are also used to lend enchantment and joy to the ears of dancer and spectators. During the performance the  leader of the chorus sings a boli which is beaten repeatedly with very gentle strikes on it by a ring or a stone or spoon also in keeping with the quantum of the rhythem,
By singing some bolians the participants (ladies) usually outpour their feeling of anger, resentment, pain, jealously on the members of their inlaws, especially mother in law and also very tender affection, warmth and love for relatives of the parental side.
It is also to be pointed out here that in past in some areas of Punjab, lower region of Jammu region and also in remote pockets of the hilly areas some folk dances used to be performed by the women folk and men folk seperately as then women were confined to four walls of their homes. They were advised to observe the purdha tradition by which they used to cover their faces with the long veils. They however,  were allowed to watch the bhangara (bhangada) and other folk dances performed by the menfolk but menfolk were not permitted to witness the gidha, jagrata and other folk dances performed by the women folk. But now the things have changed altogether. The old traditions are being abdandoned  by and by and new ones are taking their places. Now in the occasions of any festivity both men and women assemble together to perform some folk dances at the fixed places in front of their houses or in the ground or on the platform of the hall of any academy of the city. However, the bhangara folk dance is still performed exclusively separately by the men-folk.
It is also a happy trend that now in our country barring some remote hilly areas the women and men of the artistic nature take part in all types of the cultural and social programme so as to promote the age old cultural traditions of our country. It is really very useful trend also to promote  various educational and social welfare programmes etc.