DARJEELING’S ETHNICITY CAPTURED THROUGH DANCE AND MUSIC

Darjeeling, West Bengal's enchanting hill station, is known for its dynamic people and equally vivid culture. Darjeeling's rich culture is a result of its diversified population of people of many ethnicities. Apart from Bengali Hindus, Darjeeling is home to a large number of Hindus and Buddhists from Nepal, Tibetan Buddhists, and Sikkimese Lepchas, all of whom have had a significant influence on Darjeeling's culture and legacy. Darjeeling is known for its traditional music and dances, which are showcased at numerous festivals and social gatherings. Tibetan and Nepali festivals, in addition to mainstream festivals such as Holi, Diwali, Dussehra, Buddha Jayanti, and Christmas, are celebrated with tremendous pomp and gaiety in Darjeeling. During the 10-day festival, several artists perform Darjeeling's traditional music and dances.
With its serene, romantic, and poetic shades of different hues, the majestic Himalayan mountains, their lush green hills, and forests appear to have played a significant role in influencing the religion and culture of the people, including folk songs and dances, who live in Darjeeling


DANCE OF DARJEELING

Darjeeling's culture and traditions include Nepali folk dance forms, which are nothing less than a treasure. Nepali dances are heavily inspired by religious rituals where dancers offer prayer to deities. Some of the famous folk-dance forms of Darjeeling are:

MARUNI NAACH

This dance form, which is considered one of Nepal's oldest folk dances, was traditionally performed at the Tihar Festival. Maruni Dance has recently become popular in Darjeeling, where it is performed at social and religious events. Boys or men dress up as girls and dance wearing traditional outfits. This dance celebrates Lord Rama's return to Ayodhyaya following a 14-year absence.

DHAN NAACH

This is a prominent Limbus dance form. The Limbus is a Nepalese tribe that originated in East Nepal. This dance style is also known as Paddy Dance and is mostly practiced in Darjeeling during the rice harvest festival. This dance is performed by both men and women. They create a circle and dance to rhythmic tunes while holding each other's hands.

JHANKRI NAACH

This dance genre is particularly popular in Darjeeling's rural areas, and it is mostly practiced to heal the sick. Jhankri means "Witch Doctor" in the native tongue. While dancing, the dancers wear white gown-like costumes and adopt a variety of poses. Jhankri Naach is performed during several unique festivals and trade fairs.

YATRA NAACH

Yatra translates as "procession." This dance is an important feature of the Nepalese people of Darjeeling's various holiday procession. During the Indra Yatra, a procession for Lord Indra (the Rain God) in August/September, Yatra Naach is performed. Dancers portray demons and Gods by wearing various types of masks. In this form of dance, chariots are also used.

KHUKURI NAACH

The main instrument utilised in this dance is the khukuri, which is a knife with a carved wooden handle. The Gorkhas, a well-known Nepalese clan, based near Darjeeling, always carry this ornate knife. Gorkhas display their khukuris, which represent pride and authority, during this dance.

MUSIC OF DARJEELING

The most famous genre of folk song is 'Jhowre,' which is about the lover, and 'Juhari,' which is about the lovesick couple's inquiries and replies. In the fields, the 'Rosia' is sung, the 'Baloon' extols the Mahabharata's achievements, and the 'Malsiri' is stored for the Durga Puja. The 'Rateli' are musicalized nursery rhymes.
Nepalese folk culture is diverse. The hills and dales are a rich trove of hill folk songs and dances. The two major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, appear to have affected Nepali culture, which is full of rich folk music and dances that coexist. Apart from this, cave paintings, religious rites, temple songs, and dances also played a role in inspiring Nepalese folk songs and dances in the past. Impressions of religious dances performed either to appease Gods and goddesses or to ward off evil spirits can also be seen distinctly in Nepalese performing arts.