The dance of the cowherds

Baredi folk dance is mainly performed by the members of Aheer community (Yadavs) of Bundelkhand region in Madhya Pradesh. It is believed that Krishna who belonged to this community of cowherds used to perform this dance along with his gwalas (friends). Hence this dance is performed every year for a fortnight beginning from the day of Diwali (Kartik Amawasya to Kartik Poornima).

A group of 8-10 young men dressed in colourful costumes and tribal ornaments and fineries such as peacock feather and shells take part in this energetic folk dance. One member dressed as Krishna performs at the centre while other members dance around him. The performance begins with a two-line poetry recited by the head male performer to worship their deity and Govardhan Parvat. The dance picks up pace and rhythm with the music played live by the musicians. Dhol, nagada, flutes, jhanz, dhapli, manjira and sometimes mridang is used for the instrumental music.

While performing in a village, the dancers first perform in front of their deity and then dance in front of each house in their village. Dance formations depicting Krishna’s childhood mischiefs such as stealing butter, riding bullock cart and adventures during his youth such as lifting the Govardhan hill, acting as Arjuna’s charioteer during the Mahabharata war or sleeping on a seshnaag in his Vishnu avatar are common in this dance form. A thali (symbolic of the Sudarshan Chakra) is often spun by the member depicting Krishna. Songs praying for safety and prosperity of the community are also sung by the performers as part of the Baredi dance.