Bagore ki Haveli in Udaipur is the place to be for anyone even remotely interested in Rajasthani Folk Music & dance. In this 18th century haveli or mansion the various dance forms of the state are beautifully presented in a show aptly called Dharohar (heritage). The show, an hour long one has been enthralling the audience daily for years now. A few years back, I had the opportunity to enjoy the colourful performance of Dharohar – Bagore ki Haveli. Though there are a number of other places where you can enjoy the folk performances of the state, yet there is something that stands out here.
The Dances of Dharohar
To begin with the sheer variety of the folk dances performed here is awesome. These dances, clubbed with a small introduction before each performance, present the customs and traditions of different communities of Rajasthan.
Take for instance the Chari dance where ladies dance with flaming pots on their head, or for that matter the very popular Ghoomar where women, with their faces covered, dance in a circular fashion to the rhythmic beats.
The Gujjar and Saini community traditionally performed the former dance to mark festive celebrations like marriage or birth of male child. The latter, initially performed by the Bhil tribe, later became popular in the royal household. The dance is also performed during celebrations and religious occasions
Then there is Terah Taal where women tie thirteen metallic discs known as manjira to their body and play them in thirteen different ways. The dancers, at certain points in the performance, also balance pots on their heads and a weapon in their mouth while playing manjira. The dance belongs to the Kamada tribe and is performed by ladies in a seated posture. The dance is also performed by the devotee of Baba Ramdev Temple at Runecha
Gavri, the tribal dance performed by the male members of the Bhil tribe, is actually a dance drama act that depicts episodes from ancient Hindu texts. Gorbandh dance depicts the joy of women after preparing ornaments that are used to decorate the camels at festivals.
The finale performance is invariably the Bhavai dance where a lady dances with multiple pots on her head, sometimes balancing on a plate and sometimes at broken pieces of glasses beneath her feet. The dance showcases the joy of the lady returning after filling her pots with water. In the water scarce region of Rajasthan, this indeed is a reason to rejoice.
The Musicians At Bagore ki Haveli
The musicians, giving background music to each performance, sit on one side of the stage and play their instruments – tabla, harmonium, dholak, etc. The singer with his soulful voice fills the air with Rajasthani folk songs.
The Puppet Show For Kids
The famous string puppet dance is also included in the Dharohar show. Aimed to involve the kids, this is where a bit of simple tricks and playfulness make the audience laugh a little.
The Artists of Dharohar Show
The artists, wearing bright colourful dresses and traditional ornaments, put their heart and soul in their performance. To audience, sometime they simply seem to be enjoying what they are doing while at other their years of practice becomes pretty much apparent. Their skills speak for themselves. How else dancing on broken glasses with 10-13 pots on head is explained? Dancing with ignited pots on head sure does require a lot of confidence in one’s own capability to pull off such an act, which of course comes from practice.
The puppeteer, who is usually hidden from the audience is here right in front of the audience deftly manipulating its puppets and make it dance in most interesting manner. You notice both – the artist and his art. The puppets themselves are dressed in colourful costumes and look absolutely adorable.
The Environment – A Traditional One
The entire environment which is again a traditional one adds more value to the performance of Dharohar show. The show is performed on the first floor of the Bagore ki haveli and the seating arrangements includes dhurries on ground with benches and chairs behind. With audience on three sides, the artists perform in an area in between which is neither very big nor far from the audience. In fact sitting on the dhurries the audience is very close to the dancers.
The Venue – A Heritage Haveli From 18th Century
The haveli where the performance takes place is itself a heritage structure. It was built by the then Prime Minister of Mewar, Amar Chand Badwa. The haveli later went on to become the residence of the royal family. Post India’s independence, the haveli gradually, functioning as the residence of government employees, fell into a sad state of disrepair.
It was then that the West Zone Cultural Centre stepped in and worked on its restoration extensively. The haveli became a museum showcasing the culture and heritage of Mewar. In the museum, visitors can see turbans, weapons, costumes, jewellery boxes, dice games as well as puppets.
Another attraction of the haveli is its location near the Gangaur Ghat at the banks of Lake Pichola. A walk on the ghat either before or after the show offers a peek into the local life. City Palace, Lake Palace and other ghats are visible from here.