The Khajuraho Dance Festival is an annual celebration of the Indian classical dances Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Kathakali, Manipuri and Odissi.

It is held at the Khajuraho temples of Madhya Pradesh. The Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad, a unit of the government of MP is entrusted with the duty of arranging the festival.

Legend behind the Khajuraho Dance Festival

First organized in 2002, the Khajuraho Dance Festival has achieved a legendary status in India as the most popular celebration of the classical forms of dance in the backdrop of temples. The Chitragupta Temple located in the district of Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh has an open auditorium where the performances are staged. A visitor can also catch a glimpse of the nearby Vishwanath Temple of Khajuraho. These temples are the most popular among the Western Group of Khajuraho Temples.Occupying a prominent place in the history of India, the Khajuraho temples are home to art and sculpture that depict the courtly love of ancient times.

The Khajuraho Dance Festival is also famous for introducing some of the most legendary names in the world of dance and art on the festival platform.

Customs, Traditions and Cultural Importance of the Khajuraho Dance Festival

This famous festival of Madhya Pradesh is organized every year in February. Earlier it was held towards the end of the month, sometimes extending to March. Since 2010, the Khajuraho Dance Festival has always been held in the first week of February. Every year, renowned artists from different parts of India perform at the week long festival.

The government of Madhya Pradesh has taken the initiative to promote not only India’s classical dance forms through the festival, but also the skills of the local craftsmen who can exhibit and trade their handcrafted items at stalls arranged within the temple courtyard. The seven day extravaganza especially targets the international visitors to Madhya Pradesh who can learn about the 1000 years of Indian culture preserved within the stone structures of the Khajuraho temples. A minimum of five dance forms of India are always staged in every edition of the festival so as to make the foreign tourist acquainted with the traditional practices of the country.

The performances are held only during the evening hours, starting from 7 p.m. This gives an opportunity to the visitors to visit other prominent tourist sites nearby during the daytime. The colorful display of clothes worn by the dancers during the performances gives the visitor wonderful photographs but the audience at the festival has to pay an extra amount of INR 100 to carry a camera. Ticket prices vary between INR 100 to INR 600 per person. This year though was an exception because entry was free for all to generate more footfall and interest in the dance and art forms which are fast seeing a decline in the popularity.

Flute, tabla, mridangam and tanpura are the instruments used to create music for the dancers participating in the Khajuraho Dance Festival.

Performers at the Khajuraho Dance Festival

Some of the notable perfromers at the festival are:

  • Sujata Mahapatra and Nadini Ghoshal (Odissi)
  • Chitra Veshwesharan and Priya Venkataraman (Bharathanatyam)
  • Swati Sinha and Sauvik Chakravarty (Kathak)

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