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Pandav Leela – Folk Dance Of Pahari Rajputs Of Himalayan Region

Pandav Leela is a folk dance in Garhwal in the Himalayan region of North India especially in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Pandav leela literally means the play of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata and it is also known as Pandav Nritya (dance of the Pandavas).

Pahari Rajputs, who regard themselves as descendants of the five Pandava brothers, the heroes of the Mahabharata, see it as a form of ancestor worship which would confer both spiritual and material benefits on the sponsors, performers and onlookers of the dance.

Pandav Leela consists of dramatic vignettes of incidents from the Mahabharata, wherein the individual Pandava brothers were engaged in acts of valor and heroism.

The play is accompanied by competitive dance and recitation of the relevant incidents.
The dancers gorgeously dressed and wearing ornaments and headgear, feel themselves possessed by the characters of the epic that they represent.

Several of the scenes from the great war of Kurukshetra, between the Pandava and Kaurava brothers, the tragic death of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna are enacted with certain local variations.

The performance of Pandav Leela serves as a source of enjoyment to rural folk and helps preserve the heritage of the land.

William S Sax 1991 ed by Arvind Sharma, ‘Ritual and Performance of Pandav Lila of Uttarakhand. In Essays on the Mahabharata. Leiden E J Brill.
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VIII page 39 - IHRF