Women have a different but no less exuberant dance called Giddha (Gidda, Gidha, ਗਿੱਧਾ). It is a popular folk dance of women in Punjab region of India and Pakistan. The dance is often considered derived from the ancient ring dance and is just as energetic as Bhangra and at the same time it manages to creatively display feminine grace, elegance and elasticity. One of the ladies plays on the drum or ‘dholki’ while others form a circle. While moving in a circle, the ladies raise their hands to the level of their shoulders and clap their hands in unison. Quick is the movement of the feet in its faster parts that it is difficult for the spectator even to wink till the tempo falls again.
Rhythm is generally provided by clapping of hands. The distinctive hand-claps of the dancers is a prominent feature of this art-form. Ladies form rings and one of the dancers sit in the centre of this ring with a dholki (drum).
The vitality of Bhangra can also be seen in the Giddha dance of the women of Punjab. This dance translates into gestures, boliyan-verses of different length satirizing politics. The dancers enact verses called boliyan, which represent folk poetry at its best. The subject matter of these boliyan is wide ranging indeed – everything from arguments with the sister-in-law to political affairs figure in these lively songs – bolis (Boliyan) can also cover themes from nature to excesses committed by the husband and his relatives, some talk about love affairs to the loneliness of a bride separated from her groom.
No musical instruments except perhaps a dholaki accompanies Giddha and provides the rhythm for the dance. Giddha is a very vigorous folk dance and like other such dances of Northern India is taxing on the legs of the artists.
Most commonly in Giddha, the ladies dance in twos. One participant generally sings the boli and when the last but one line is reached, the tempo of the song rises and all start dancing together. In this manner boliyan alternate with the dance sequence which continue for a considerable period of time. Giddha dance is stylistically simple. The Punjabi salwar kameez or lehnga, rich in color and decoration is worn. Jingle of the bells, thumping of the feet, beat of the drum and the splendour of Punjabi women in their striking traditional dress creates an enchanting atmosphere.
Giddha is very popular as it is not performed according to any rigid set pieces or sequences; it is free-style, spontaneous and creative. Harmony is the essence in Giddha movements that are inclusive of swinging and twisting the body, shaking of the shoulders, bending to a double and clapping. During occasions like Lohri, Vashaki, Marriages the Punjabi women revelling joy, give vent to their suppressed feelings in a male dominated society through the Giddha. Boliyan while dancing exhibits the deep human feeling.
Emotions in Giddha Dance
Mimicry is also very popular in Giddha. One lady may play the aged bridegroom and another his young bride; or one may play a quarrel-some sister-in-law and another a humble bride. In this way Giddha provides for all the best forum for venting of one’s emotions. Giddha dance incorporate village life scenes of woman spinning cotton, fetching water from the well, grinding, etc. This is accompanied with appropriate boli and songs.
Giddha Dance Dress
The traditional dress during Giddha dance is short female style shirt (choli) with ghagra or lehnga (loose shirt upto ankle-length) or ordinary Punjabi Salwar-Kamiz, rich in colour, cloth and design. The ornaments that they wear are suggi-phul (worn on head) to pazaibs (anklets), haar-hamela, (gem-studded golden necklace) baazu-band (worn around upper-arm) and raani-haar (a long necklace made of solid gold). Traditional dress for Giddha is quite elegant. It adds charm to feminine grace and is comfortable enough to allow women to perform Giddha dance with ease. Giddha dress is quite simple and one can find women in rural Punjab donning it everyday. The only difference is that costume for giddha makes use of brighter colors and is complemented with heavy jewellery.
Dupatta (chunni or scarf): This is heavily embroidered in a Giddha costume.
Salwaar (baggy pants)
Tikka (jewellery on the forehead)
Jhumka (long dangling earrings)
Paranda (braid tassle)
Suggi-Phul (worn on head)
Raani-Haar (a long necklace made of solid gold)
Haar-Hamela (gem-studded golden necklace)
Baazu-Band (worn around upper-arm)
Though salwar kammez is quite popular amongst women performing giddha dance but some also like to go in for lehanga (long flowing skirt) and choli (blouse). Sometimes women also wear sharraras (ghagara with split pants). In case of salwaar kameez, usually the kameez is of contrasting color from the dupatta and salwaar. In a Giddha costume dupatta is not necessarily worn on the head.
Women performing giddha dance also adorn themselves with a lot of jewellery including bangles, tikka, jhumkas, necklace and nath (nose ring). Characteristic feature of Giddha dress is a paranda – a tassle that is woven into the braid. Womenfolk love to go in for longer and fancier parandas.