DANC­ING TO TARPA’S TUNES

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In­dia is home to rich cul­ture and tra­di­tion, va­ri­eties of which can be spot­ted across our coun­try. Unique to Dadra and Nagar Haveli is a colour­ful dance form, known as the Tarpa Dance. In­dige­nous to the Koli, Kokna and Varli tribes, Tarpa is full of vigour, ex­ud­ing an aura of at­trac­tive­ness. It is most com­monly per­formed dur­ing Di­wali and pe­ri­ods of har­vest, when men and women both dance to the tune of a wind mu­si­cal in­stru­ment which shares its name with the dance form. The Tarpa in­stru­ment is made out of palm leaves, bam­boo and gourd. This dance form is one of the most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions of Dadra’s lo­cal life. The dance is usu­ally per­formed at night, after din­ner, when both men and women en­cir­cle the Tarpa player. The men form the in­ner cir­cle, whereas the women with their hands en­tan­gled around one an­other’s waist form the outer cir­cle. Of­ten, they al­ter­nate to form a sin­gle cir­cle. The youth among the tribes par­tic­i­pate in the dance, as it re­quires high en­ergy and swift, ag­ile move­ments. To the rhythm of the Tarpa, the dancers move gra­ciously in an anti-clock­wise di­rec­tion as the tribes be­lieve that cos­mic forces and be­ings en­cir­cle anti-clock­wise. Their adop­tion of the move­ment is in rev­er­ence of the cos­mic world. Tra­di­tion­ally, the dancers will never turn their back to­wards the Tarpa player, as the in­stru­ment is con­sid­ered to be the di­vine gift of Lord Naran­deva. The Tarpa dance is per­formed be­tween Novem­ber and May, at the peak of the har­vest sea­son, when the new grains are brought in from the thresh­ing grounds. The tribes do not play the Tarpa after June, as it is con­sid­ered to be a taboo dur­ing the post-sow­ing sea­sons un­til har­vest. The Tarpa dance is per­formed by the tribes dur­ing a time of cel­e­bra­tion and fer­vour. It brings the en­tire com­mu­nity to­gether, and, with pop­u­lar­i­sa­tion, it is EHLQJ DGRSWHG DFURVV VWDJH SHUIRUPDQFHV DGGLQJ D QHZ ¾DYRXU WR WKLV WUDGLWLRQDO dance form.

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