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Tarpa Dance Videos

January 31, 2008

Tarpa Dance is a tribal dance which I saw during our visit to the town of Vikramgadh in western Maharashtra, about 80 kms northeast from Mumbai. We were at the Divekarwadi resort where this dance was performed by a group of local boys and girls. What was interesting is that they were not professional dancers and they did not possess any costumes and nor did they wear any make-up. A refreshing change from stage shows! Unfortunately I managed to capture only about half a minute of the dance on video but hopefully it gives some sort of an idea as to what the dance is about. I uploaded the video on to YouTube and am now linking it to this blog.

The dance is played to the tune of a wind instrument called the Tarpa which I had never seen before. Here are the two videos. The first one is just about 34 seconds long and the second one is about 17 seconds. The second one basically shows their footwork.

If you have a problem watching it here, you can watch it here on Youtube.

If you have a problem watch it here.

This is what the Tarpa musician looked like:


When I tried to find out more about this Tarpa (Tarpha?) Dance I discovered that it belongs to the tribals of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. This is an union territory (around 490 sq sq kms) on the western coast of India near the Maharashtra Gujarat border, and until 1954, was ruled by the Portuguese. Silvassa is the capital of these territories. The arrow in the map below points to Silvassa town.


You can see the government website for Dadra and Nagar Haveli here and for more on the culture of the people, go here.

The map below is the place where we saw the dance, and its many miles south of Silvassa.

(The videos are shot by me and so is the photograph. The maps are from from Google)
17 Comments leave one →
  1. Raj permalink
    January 31, 2008 2:14 pm


    Thanks for this article! I followed the links to DNH site and was surprised to see lions staring at me on their album about nature.I am happy to learn about the Vasona project to conserve the Asiatic lion.

    And I am fascinated by (but know very little about) the culture of the tribals in different parts of the country.Their culture may have withstood the assault from foreign forces,but I wonder if they will be able to withstand the forces of ‘modernisation’ , ‘development’ and ‘cultural nazism’ that is unleashed upon them by their own countrymen.

    It was interesting to note from the videos that only men wear anklets and that too only around the right ankle.And I have never quite seen an instrument like the tarpa before!

  2. January 31, 2008 2:23 pm

    Raj, glad to know you are interested. I find the culture of tribals quite fascinating! I think we have a lot to learn from them. They are one with nature. And I was quite fascinated with the Tarpa too! We have such a rich culture and this is only one very very tiny part of what we do not know.
    I didn’t expect to get any comments at all on this one and therefore am really glad for your response.
    Thanks again.

  3. wishtobeanon permalink
    January 31, 2008 8:01 pm

    I remember seeing folk and tribal dances from different parts of India being telecast on DD. Almost all tribal dances share a similarity in their dance style, don’t they? Also I notice a healthy mixing of both men and women in their dances. There is so much to learn about the different cultures in our own nation!

  4. January 31, 2008 8:55 pm

    wishtobeanon, one of the things I noticed about the dances was this, the level of comfort that the boys and girls felt with each other. I thought it was natural, wonderful and something to emulate.

  5. Raj permalink
    January 31, 2008 9:22 pm


    I completely agree with you.Tribal culture is totally different to ‘mainstream’ culture (except in regions where tribal culture is the dominant one) when it comes to relationship between the sexes.This is what makes tribal men respectful towards women.Tribals worship and adore the feminine aspects of nature (Nature herself is feminine as we call her Mother Nature 🙂 ),so tribal men have a healthy respect towards women (they do not kill unborn and newborn girls and the concept of dowry is non-existent).Its like boys and girls who study in co-educational institutions having a better understanding and therefore more respect towards each other.Women are not viewed as the ‘property’ of men in tribal societies.This kind of behaviour should only be encouraged as it will prevent certain nasty things that we have discussed in other posts.

  6. January 31, 2008 10:05 pm

    Reminded me of the beautiful scene at the end of Ray’s Aagantuk where the urban wife joins in with the tribal people in their dance.

  7. January 31, 2008 10:53 pm

    Nita – these videos are great. The dances remind me that male-female chain-dance is common to folks all over the world, tends to be exuberant and joyous when performed by the young and the music to which the dance is to has a sinuous quality. This instrument has a wonderful sound, quite powerful. i found myself wanting to be a part of this revelry. G

  8. February 1, 2008 8:57 am

    Thanks! Glad you found them interesting even though they were not performed by ‘performers’ so to say, but simply poor villagers who can barely afford the clothes on their back.

  9. dreamer2702 permalink
    February 4, 2008 4:56 pm

    Thank you so much for this blogpost. I had never heard of this community, this dance or this instrument. it was really enlightening to read your article (which was every well researched and put across). It’s for posts like these that I love the blogging medium 🙂

  10. jack permalink
    February 6, 2008 12:34 pm

    Thanks Nita for such a good article.

    I tried linking ur article on Wikipedia on Indian Folk Dances page where Tarpha Nach is reffered. But it did not accept the link. I have as the article moderates to consider the link. I hope you dont mind it.

    Also you can consider putting a separate page on this dance form if possible.

    Thank you.

  11. February 6, 2008 12:48 pm

    Jack, thanks. I would love it if the Wiki accepts my link. But I know they don’t generally accept links from blogs. Thank you for trying to link it to my page.

  12. January 31, 2009 10:07 am


    nice to see your collection…. really great….


  13. February 9, 2010 1:30 pm

    I am Lucky I born in TamilNadu But brought Up in Dadra & Nagar Haveli

  14. cindy baehr permalink
    December 31, 2012 10:46 pm

    I was recently in Maharashtra meeting several villagers and watching the dances, but I was unable to get a picture of someone playing the tarpa. I was wondering if I could have a copy of your picture to use in my travel journal. This may be shared with some Unitarian Universalist congregations in Vermont as I was on a project with the UU College for Social Justice and would like to share my experiences.

  15. January 1, 2013 8:59 am

    You are welcome to use the picture cindy but a credit line to Nita Jatar Kulkarni would be required. Thanks.

  16. Roshan.umbarsada permalink
    June 2, 2015 8:48 am

    Desi music

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