Photo by Munish Dhiman

The annual Chandigarh National Crafts Mela started five years ago, in a bid to preserve and highlight the rich cultural heritage of the country. This year’s edition focussed on India’s rich folk traditions, especially the varied tribal dance forms that have evolved over centuries, ranging from the kachhi ghodi dance to the chhapeli. As these pictures reveal, the performers were perfect for the theme, called “Colours and Sounds of North India”.

Mostly performed by the tribes of Rajasthan, the kachhi ghodi dance form is over 4,000 years old.

An intensely expressive dance form, Jhumar is one of the major dances of southern Punjab and Pakistan.

Punjab’s nachar dance form, believed to have evolved in the British era, is founded on bagpipe melodies.

Been Jogis or Saperas. Members of this sect, which has existed for more than 200 years, are famous for taming snakes and using their antivenom to treat snake bites.

Nagada wadak, nagada, dhol and other similar drums have existed since the time of the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

A Behrup or Behrupiya, folk artists skilled in the adoption of specific personae in public.

Uttrakhand’s chhapeli is a romantic dance performed by couples.

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