The folk dance of Karnataka is a shape of expression, sharing, and reference to one`s personal conventional culture.
The word “folk dance” refers to dances that have exquisite conventional effects.
Individuals from a positive place carry out this dance shape reflecting the region`s tradition, culture, and manner of life.
Many cutting-edge dance genres, in fact, are primarily based totally on historic people’s dances from the past.
Karnataka, one of all India`s numerous states, has made a full-size contribution to Indian culture.
The effect of the dance of Karnataka has molded the cultural worldview of India.
The numerous dance patterns which have their origins in Karnataka are one of the maximum vital the sector witnesses today.

Dollu Kunita folk dance of Karnataka

Dollu Kunita

It is a traditional dance form of Karnataka. 

Dollu performance forms an integral part of major festivals and celebrations across the state.

History Folk dance of Karnataka

 Dollu is one of the important accessories of Lord Shiva, one of the major gods. 

Shiva is known for his fierce dance (Shiva Tandava) when upset or angry. 

It is believed that Lord Shiva made dollu from the skin of demons he killed. 

People of the Kuruba community mainly worship Lord Shiva. 

Chief devotees of Shiva celebrate the slaying of demons by beating drums.


Dollu Kunita is in a group of 10-12 dancers.

 Both men and women can join the Dollu Kunita team.

 Traditional dollos are quite heavy and require a lot of physical strength to carry them for long periods of time.

 For this reason, they dance like strong men. 

Recently, lighter, smaller size drums are also available.

So that can be used by everyone.


 A bouncy dance that makes a lot of noise cannot go unnoticed by those around. 

Dancers gather in a circle or semi-circle to perform the dollu kunita.

 Accompanied by drumming and other instruments, music/song. 

Often the public also joins the jumpers.

Where can you see the humpback dance?

Dollu Kunita is an integral part of various festivals, cultural events, and celebrations in Karnataka.

Dollu Kunita’s performance can often be seen in the Karaga festival procession, Mysore Dussehra Jambu Savari, Bangalore festival, and various temple chariot festivals.

Gaarudi Gombe folk dance of Karnataka

Gaarudi Gombe
Gaarudi Gombe

Garudi Gombe is one of the folk arts of Karnataka. 

In Dakshina Kannada, it is also known as Tathi Raya. 

The specialty of this art is to carry around 40 kg of Garudi dolls made of clay with the support of puppets on the shoulders. 

According to senior researchers, this Garudi doll art is mentioned in Mahabharata. 

Whenever Satyabhame got angry, Lord Krishna used to pacify him with a Garudi doll.

In this art, the face of the Garudi doll is made of wood. 

The wooden figure is painted with colors to create beautiful writing patterns and the shape of the face is created.

 Garudi dolls are about ten to twelve feet tall. 

And its weight is about 40 kg. 

The garudi puppeteer carries Hokku on his shoulders inside the figure of the garudi puppet and dances around for a while. 

Small Kindles are made in the Garudi doll itself for viewing the outside world.

Because dolls are heavy, the bearers are usually men. There are pros who carry the doll and dance for about 8 hours. Usually, these types of games indicate human humor and create a laughing atmosphere for the viewers. In some places, this art is also believed to be used to destroy evil spirits.


Veeragase is performed during the Dussehra festival and is most popular during the months of Shravan and Kartika.

 In fact, it is a symbol of love towards the Supreme Lord and holds a special place in the folk dances of Karnataka.

Specifically, this dance depicts Veerabhadra, who according to Hindu mythology evolved from a drop of Shiva’s sweat, who dances in full swing with anger.

This warrior took revenge by killing King Daksha because the king had insulted Shiva by not inviting him to his holy yajna. Veeragase is named after Veerabhadra.


Veera Gase’s traditional dance form has certain rules

 dance form should be performed only by Jangam people from Veera Shaiva or Lingayat clan/community also known as Maheswaras. 

Since this dance performance is considered a sacred dance form, the ornaments used during the performance are Rudraksha beads for necklaces, belts, and bangles. 

Dressed in vibhuti and snake-like attire, she dances with the sword and wooden board of Lord Veerabhadra.

Earlier male artists were allowed to perform the traditional dance form, as the community changed women artists started performing the traditional dance form. 

While performing the Veeragase dance form there is only a number of members.

 i.e. 2, 4, or 6. And one person is appointed to narrate each dance step and the story behind it, the story of Dakshayagna.

Traditional instruments are used for the music behind the performance, and the people who perform will stick needles through their mouths as part of the ritual. 

The Veeragase dance performance is based on ritual and mythology, so it is performed with great pomp and vigor across Karnataka.


Kamsale folk dance of Karnataka


Kansale dance is a popular folk dance in Mysore.

vigorous dance form closely associated with Mahadeshwara worship rituals.

and employs a fine blend of aesthetic sophistication and martial agility. A cymbal like a cymbal, ‘Kamasale’ is played in rhythm with songs extolling the glory of Lord Mahadeshwara.


History of Kansale 

Kansale is a pair of small circular metal (copper) plates with a slight projection in the middle. A Kansale set consists of two such plates, which when gently struck against each other produce a melodious sound.

Kansale dance


Traditional dancers wear local costumes and dance with kansale in their hands. They dance rhythmically while singing bhajans/devotional songs and tap the kansalas against each other at regular intervals to produce a melodious sound that complements the music and dance.

Kansale dance is usually performed in large groups of 10-12 dancers and is usually performed near temples as part of prayers to the Lord. The songs and dances used in Kansale dance usually praise the Lord, address the difficulties faced by common people, and seek divine blessings.

What is Kansale?

Kansale is a unique folk art performed by devotees of Lord Mahadeshwar. Kansala is a musical instrument made of brass. Its origin is traced back to Puranic times

How many people are usually present at a Kansale dance?

A large group of 10-12 dancers

Bolak dance folk dance of Karnataka

The unique dance is specific to the Kodagu district of Karnataka.

The unique feature of this dance is Kodava men perform.

They wear black dresses around an oil lamp.

The dancers wield the traditional Kodava sword, called Odi-Kathi in one hand and Yak Fur known as Chavri in the other. The dancers dance to the hypnotic beats of a drum that is shaped like an hourglass, called a Dudi.

Nagamandala dance folk dance of Karnataka

Nagamandala or Nagaradhane is a multi-day festival to honor the snake god.

People of south Karnataka perform an elaborate ritual called Nagamandąla.

This ritual is performed between December and April.

Major highlights of Nagamandala

 Nagamąndala ritual is often centered around Nagabana, of snake homes, located inside local farms and forests where snakes build their nests.

The ritual: Nagamandala ritual celebrates the union of male and female snakes. Rituals are performed by two priests, one enacts the male snake while the other female snake. The ritual involves rigorous dances and moves. Some of the rituals continue till the early morning hours.

Decorations: Areas around Nagabana are extensively decorated with natural colors and designs. A ‘chappara’ or temporary roof made of coconut leaves is often laid to give some respite from intense heat.


Most Nagamandala programs are held with the support of a local sponsor. The program runs for several days and involves feeding thousands of guests each day, hence is deemed an expensive affair. 

Where to witness Nagamandala:

Nagamandąla program details are advertised in local media. When in coastal Karnataka, scan local newspapers for any upcoming Nagamandala program or take help from your host. Nagamąndala is open to all and all visitors are served with meals and prasada.

Yakshagana folk dance of Karnataka

A traditional theater of Karnataka, Yakshagana is based on mythological stories and myths.

 The following are the main folk tales taken from the Mahabharata – Draupadi Swayamvara, Subhadra Vivah, Abhimanyuva, Karna-Arjan and stories from Ramayana – Valkusha Yuddha, Balisugriva Yuddha, and Panchavati.

The tradition of Yakshagana is about 800 years old. It has its own unique style of music, distinct from the Carnatic and Hindustani styles of Indian classical music. It is a rich artistic combination of music, dance, speech, and costumes, with features such as moral education and mass entertainment along with musical drama. There are several parallel styles of Yakshagana in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra.

What is Yakshagana?

Yakshagana – An independent classical art form consisting of dance, singing, speech, and costumes. One of the most important traditional art forms of Karnataka. Yakshagana is a household word in coastal districts of Karnataka, Shimoga, Chikkamagaluru, and Kasaragod districts of Kerala.


Contrary to the symbolic importance of heavenly music, it is actually a unique blend of heavenly and earthly music. This art form reflects the nuances of opulence and power in its presentation, which is performed through dance and song, as well as the drumming called Chend and the dramatic gestures of the performers. The artists adorn themselves in brightly colored costumes with rich designs, highlighting the rich cultural tradition of the coastal districts of Karnataka.

A dramatic performance

The dramatic performance unfolds as a magnificent amalgamation of exquisite classical music, graceful choreography, and ancient epigrams, considered to be the most graceful of Indian dance forms.

The irony of this dramatic presentation is that it involves the re-enactment of battle stages in dance steps, some traditional theatrical cues for special effects, dazzling costumes, and huge crowns, all of which combine to give the performers a powerful and powerful character.

Presents as a spontaneous folk character. The ornaments worn by the artists are made of softwood, and decorated with pieces of glass and gold-colored paper. A striking feature of Yakshagana is its amalgamation of classical and folk languages which creates a hypnotic spectacle that transcends the boundaries of art in dramatic art.

yakshagana performance folk dance of Karnataka

A typical Yakshagana performance begins with the worship of Lord Ganesha, followed by a comic act and the background music of chains and a three-man troupe of talas (bells). The presenter, who is part of the team Bhagwat, is the producer, director, and show head of the entire show.

His early work consisted of telling stories through songs, introducing characters and occasionally having conversations with them. Good musical knowledge and a strong stance are the first requirements of an artiste and along with this, he should follow Hinduism.

It is necessary to have an in-depth knowledge of these plays that are spontaneously witnessed by a large group of actors in the roles of various mythological characters. Another unique feature of Yakshagana is that it does not use any prior practice or written dialogue, which makes it a special form.

In the present context, Yakshagana is not only one of the most popular art traditions of India but it is recognized worldwide. More than 10,000 Yakshagana performances are performed every year in the state of Karnataka alone. This includes trips to all festivals, performances in schools and colleges, etc.

Yakshagana never gives up such an influential position, it has its own power, so Yakshagana is a beautiful art that everyone loves to watch.

Goravara Kumitha folk dance of Karnataka

Gorava dance is by Shaiva Dharma. 

The costume and other embellishments are ancient. 

In south Karnataka Goravas are called Gorava, Goggayya, Gadabaddyya ect., whereas in north Karnataka they are called Gvarappa, Vagga, Vaghya, etc., 

Their costume and make-up are very bold. 


A headdress made up of the hair of a bear.

 Long tunic of the black blanket. 

On the chest, an X-shaped decoration with white shells. 

Begging sling bag on the shoulders.

a boat-shaped brass bowl, a bag of Bhandara, a big bell, Trident, and Naga stick Damaruga in the right hand.      

 Flute in the left hand, thickly smeared vibhuthi on the forehead with a big spot of vermillion in the center. 

Sometimes they smear vibhuthi around their eyes.

Pata kunitha folk dance of Karnataka

Pata Kunitha is a folk dance form of Karnataka

performed mainly by males.

 It is danced with tall bamboo poles, measuring about 10 to 15 ft high. 

The poles are decorated with colored ribbons and crowned with tiny silver or brass umbrellas.

The narration has little significance in this dance form.

Usually, this dance form is performed by 10 to 15 artists and is popular in Mysore

Krishna Parijatha

Krishna Parijatha is based on one of those mythological tales that are widely popular in the State.

 This depicts the rich and vibrant culture of the land. 

The belief and customs of the people are reflected in these dance forms. 

Krishna Parijatha is a folk dance from a religious point of view.

Revolving around Kanha ji drama being on stage. 

Krishna Parijatha is mostly popular in various districts of Northern Karnataka. 

From village to open markets, it continues to be a popular folk religious theatrical form.

Performance of Krishna Parijatha folk dance of Karnataka

The story of Krishna Parijatha is performed in groups. 

It beautifully portrays the rivalry and jealousy between the two consorts of Krishna – Rukmini, and Satyabhama. 

The dancers usually wear glitterati attires and decorate themselves with beautiful jewelry resembling Lord Krishna, Rukmini, Satyabhama, and other important characters. 

The wonderful performance of this drama takes the audience to the mythical story of Krishna Parijatha.


Karaga folk dance is a traditional dance devoted to Draupadi. 

It is performed on a full moon night.

 It is also known as Droupthamma. Karaga is celebrated by the Tigala group in the Karnataka region.

History of Karaga folk dance of Karnataka

The dance and its traditions are related to the epic Mahabharata. “Vastrakshepa” (stripping) of Draupadi, the banishment of Pandavas, and the demise of Draupadi’s sons by Ashwatthama are the common scenes that are performed in this dance. 

After all such miseries, she was embraced as a powerful woman. 

The Tigala community believes themselves to be the offsprings of Draupadi, who are most commonly horticulturists.

Karaga Dance Traditions

Karaga means a mud pot.

 A tall flowered pyramid is made to stand above it. 

It is balanced on the head of a person called the carrier.  

The pot’s contents stay unknown for a long time. 

The arrival of the carrier is awaited by a large group of people being bare-chested and wearing a turban on their heads. 

Their lower body covered in dhotis, and they carry unsheathed swords. 

The carrier is taken away from his house by people enrolled in the Dharmaraya Temple.

The wife of the carrier acts as the widow. 

Her “Mangal Sutra” and bangles are given to her husband to wear. 

The wife will not see her husband or the pot until the end of the festival. 

The Tigala community, who believe Draupadi is their most important god, has faith that Draupadi’s power increases during the Festival, and the Carrier dressed as a woman signifies Draupadi. 

 The carrier keeps dancing along with the Veerakumaras as he balances the Karaga or pot on his head. 

The VeeraKumaras keep hitting their unsheathed swords on their chest, chanting “dik-di dik-di.”

Different Karaga Festivals

There are different forms of the Karaga festival, which differ from region to region. 

All parts of Mahabharata are celebrated. Some such festivals are:

Karaga in Madikeri

This Karaga festival starts during the Navratri time. 

 The four Mariyamma temples of the city start with one Karaga or pot. 

These temples are called the “Shakthi devatas of the town.” 

They go and be a guest of each house in Madikeri and take pooja. 

This Karaga celebration is a ten-day festival starting from Mahalaya and ending on Vijay Dashami. The dance these Karagas perform is very entertaining to watch.

Naraspura Karaga

Naraspura Karaga festival is in March, April, or May. 

There are two different Karagas

  1. Hasi Karaga
  2. Hoovani Karaga 

The ceremony starts eleven days before a full moon, beginning with the Dwajarohana and finishing with the Sapthakalasha Karaga festival.  

Rangoli is in front of all the houses of Naraspura for the greeting of Karaga into their homes with shraddha and bhakti.

Joodu Haligi

The Joodu Haligi is done by using two percussion instruments.

 The Haligi is circular in shape.

It is of buffalo hide.

 The dancer uses a short stick to produce rhythms.

This is also done by rhythmic movements.

and exaggerated expressions in sync with the high-energy rhythms produced. 

Usually, 2-3 dancers are in the performance.

Hagalu veshagaararu

Hagalu veshagaararu is a group of itinerant actors from Karnataka. 

Some populations of these are native to Andhra Pradesh also.

These artists are masters of the art of miming and their performances are extempore.

 No formal stage or facility. 

The artists move from place to place and pitch tents in places where they offer to perform their shows.


This dance form is by Kodava men.

However, dressed in all black.

with an oil lamp in the open field. 

The dancers hold yak fur in one hand and the Kodava sword in the other. 

These dances are performed to mark celebrations.


 This dance is by the Kodava women.

wearing the Kodava dress with jewels and kumkuma on their foreheads. 

The dance is in a circular motion with a swinging rhythm. 

The dancers hold brass cymbals in their hands.

 A woman holding a pot full of water.

So, stand in the center to represent Maa Kaveri.


This is a religious dance.

Usually form is performed in the temple.

 It is performed by the men of Kodava. 

It is performed with deer horns.

that signify the horns of the Krishna murga (a spotted deer in Kodava legend) with rhythmic tunes played on wind instruments and percussion.


This dance form is performed by men.

where the dancers hold peacock feathers while 



This dance form is performed by men.

They wear Kodava.

It is a kind of Swordfight.

During the dance, dancers hold peechekathi and odikathi.

This is usually during festivals.


This dance form is by males.

In the temple courtyards during festivals. 

The men hold whisks made of Yak hair during the dance.


This dance is done by males.


This dance is done by male dancers.

So, dance is during the Puthari festival

 Male dancers wear traditional Kodava while performing this dance.

Dancers hold the cane sticks and strike them as they dance to the beat of drums in a large circle around a milk-oozing tree in the mand.

Jaggahalige Kunita

This is a folk art of the Hubballi Dharwad region.

on the occasions of Yugadi and Holi, dance is done. 

Jagghalige is essentially a percussion instrument of a bullock cart wheel with buffalo hides around it.


This is a popular folk dance in north Karnataka. 

Perform during various auspicious occasions.

The use of Karadi (a palm-size cymbal that produces metallic sounds)in the orchestra. 

Whereas, the Shehnai produces the melody.


Kolata is a stick dance performed by both men and women. It involves rhythmic clapping, striking sticks, and quick footwork. Kolata is often performed during festivals and celebratory occasions.

Suggi Kunitha

Suggi Kunitha is a harvest dance performed by women during the Makara Sankranti festival. The dancers carry decorated pots on their heads and move in a circle, accompanied by singing and clapping. It is a joyful dance that celebrates agricultural abundance and prosperity.


Kolakolu is a folk dance popular among the tribal communities of Karnataka, particularly the Siddis. It is a lively dance performed during festive occasions, accompanied by drum beats and singing. The dancers form a circle and move in rhythmic steps, often incorporating clapping and jumping.

Huttari Dance

Huttari Dance is a tribal dance form performed by the Kodava community of the Coorg region in Karnataka. It is a group dance that is performed during the Huttari festival, which marks the end of the harvest season. The dancers wear traditional attire and dance to the beats of drums and wind instruments.

Gamate Dance

Gamate Dance is a traditional folk dance performed by the Gamates, a community of agricultural laborers. The dance involves rhythmic movements and footwork, accompanied by singing and clapping. Gamate Dance is usually performed during agricultural festivals and celebrations.

Goravara Kunitha

Goravara Kunitha is a religious dance performed by devotees of Lord Shiva, known as Goravas. They wear unique costumes and adornments, often with bells and tridents, and dance as an offering to the deity.

Pooja Kunita

Pooja Kunita is a traditional dance performed during religious ceremonies and processions. It involves the use of small decorated pots (pooja kudige) and dancers move in a circular pattern while balancing these pots on their heads.


These are just a few examples of the diverse folk dance forms you can find in Karnataka. Each dance form has its unique style, significance, and costumes, reflecting the cultural richness of the state.


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