Cultural Extravaganza: Traditional Music and Dance Performances in Jaisalmer

You must see the traditional dance and music performances in Jaisalmer, provided by the top desert camp in Sam's sand dunes! There is only one place to go for a refreshing holiday where you may refresh yourself. For you, Jaisalmer may have many different meanings. Sand dunes, intense heat, lovely buildings, and a very old, still-habitable fort. However, a place's culture is more complex than that, thus it makes sense that you would also search for a cultural extravaganza.

Manganyar music traditions

Deemed the repository of the Thar region's history and folk knowledge, Langa-Manganiyar artists preserve an invaluable heritage through their ballads, songs, and folklore.

The Langa-Manganiyars

The Langas and Manganiyars are hereditary musical communities living for the most part in Jaisalmer and Barmer. Though they can be said to be marginalized now, in better days they were patronized by the elites. Their performances are sung in Marwari, Saraiki, Sindhi, Thareli, and Dhatti. The themes around which the performances revolve include tales of Sohni-Mahiwal, Heer-Ranjha, Moomal-Rana, Sorath Rao-Khangar, and Umar-Marvi.

While the Langa plays the Sindhi Sarangi, the Manganiyar plays the Khamaycha.These bow-string instruments come with sympathetic strings and skin membrane sounding boards. Both Langas and Manganiyars sing to the accompaniment of the dholak, the kartal, the morchan(jaws harp), and the harmonium.


Be prepared to be regaled by Kalbelia performances once you are in Jaisalmer. The dance form stands inscribed in UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
To express their traditional way of life, the Kalbelias take recourse to song and dance. Ages ago, they were adept snake handlers. Contemporary Kalbelia are incorporating modern elements in their music and dance. When you are in Jaisalmer, you will find women in flowing black skirts that swirl to dance, mimicking a snake's movement. You will find men accompanying the dancers on musical instruments like the khanjari and the poongi. Embellishing the dancers are tattoos, jewelry, and dresses that are embroidered with silver thread and small mirrors. Kalbelia songs are about mythological themes. If you are in Jaisalmer during Holi, you can witness traditional dances reserved for the occasion.
Kalbelia songs demonstrate the poetic skill of the community. Kalbelia performers can improvise lyrics on the go, which makes for great interest. Their works are part of an oral tradition, and there are neither texts nor instruction manuals for Kalbelia songs.
In passing, we might mention that traditional music and dance performances are organized as part of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival. Check the program in late autumn - the festival usually takes place in February.


Ghoomar is a folk dance form, and you can expect to encounter it during your Jaisalmer stint. Ghoomar translates to going around in circles. The dancer twirls on her axis. Originating from the Bhil tribal community, legend has it the dance form was developed as an attempt to normalize warring relations between reigning Rajputs and the tribe. Once the novel form was out in the open, there was no holding back the noble womenfolk in the stately royal palace, and there were regular requests for performance. Ghoomar is very popular to this day. Ghoomar is performed before a representation of Sarawati. It is performed during special occasions like the celebration of Teej, Holi, and Diwali. It is considered especially auspicious to have it performed when the bride is entering the in-laws' house. That's indeed the lady putting her best foot forward! Ghoomar involves pirouetting, gesticulating with the hands, clapping of the hands, and snapping of the fingers. The ghagra choli that clothe the dancers is another cultural artifact. It is a heavily embroidered, mirror-embellished long skirt with an accompanying blouse. The flaring ends of the multi-colored skirts embellished with gota embroidery, in addition to Kundan jewelry, have always lent a mystical air to dance performances. Also Read:-


Priest-singers of folk deities, the Bhopas perform in front of a scroll, or phad. The latter depicts episodes from the folk deity's narrative. The phad is a portable temple. The Bhopas are the bearers of the phad and are called upon by villagers to perform in times of misfortune. Usually kept rolled up, the phads are stretched open between two poles in an appropriate public setting at dusk. The performances go on all night long and conclude only at daybreak.

Phad Vacnos

Night-wakes or jagarans include the performance of the Bhopas. Through jagarans, the Bhopas seek to elicit a response from folk deities. A phad vacnos performance has several sequences.

  • Before setting up the phad, purificatory rites are carried out. The ground beneath the phad is swept clean. Incense is burned.
  • The phad is set with rope fastening.
  • The Bhopa wears a special costume, known as the baga.
  • Money and grains are presented for phad consecration.
  • Folk deities are invoked.
  • The Bhopa begins the narration which has verse and prose components both. The phad has pictorial depictions of the narrative. The Bhopa points to sections of the phad and recites the appropriate verse, or narrates the appropriate prose section.
  • In villages, while donations are collected, the Bhopa blows on a conch shell.
  • An arati is performed after the phad vacnos.

You can see Bhopa performances at the Jaisalmer Desert Festival.


The best desert camp in Sam Sand Dunes will offer the best camel safari in Jaisalmer. You will have a comfortable base from which to branch out and explore all possibilities regarding Jaisalmer's cultural extravaganza. Traditional music and dance performances in Jaisalmer are a rare treat that only visitors can appreciate. Take the opportunity to observe and indeed, revel in the celebration of Life that is Jaisalmer.

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