Gwalior is a well acknowledged place of art, associated with historic as well as contemporary evidence. In August 2005 a mural created by Aasutosh Panigrahi along with five other artist, was acknowledged as World’s Largest Indoor Mural by Guinness Book of Records. The artwork was created at Shyam Vatika (Saraswati Estate, near Gola Ka Mandir). Shyam Vatika is one of the largest Auditorium of Gwalior. Gwalior holds an unparalleled reputation in Sangeet and the legendary musician Tansen came from Gwalior. In his memory Tansen Samaroh is held every year. Still many people acknowledge that there is no equal to Tansen in music. Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was also from the royal city of Gwalior. His grandfather Ghulam Ali Khan Bangash became a court musician in Gwalior.
Culturally Gwalior is the confluence of two rich cultures Bundeli and Braj. Bundelkhand covers Gwalior, Bhind, Morena, Sagar, Shivpuri, Guna, Sheopur and adjoining areas.
Every year a national level music festival is organised in November/December near the tomb of Mian Tansen, one of the ‘Nine Jewels’ of Emperor Akbar’s court. Musicians and singers from all over India come here to perform in the festival.
This dance is related to people who have traditionally been in the business of cattle herding. In different parts of the state these people are known by different castes such as Ahir, Baredi, Gwal, Rawat, Raut, Gwala etc. These people believe that they are the descendents of Lord Krishna.
Baredi or Yadav dance of Bundelkhand
This dance has been associated with the biggest Hindu festival “Diwali”. On the night of Diwali people worship Laxmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth (after all no body can live without money), and cattle. Next day on the occasion of “Padva” or “Parva” cattle are sent to jungles or ranches after being decorated with flowers and garlands. They are given special dishes as food. Yadav dance is performed on the same occasion.
Dancers dance in a circular path while singing songs. Sometimes they sit or lie down on earth and suddenly they restart their dance. Rhythm of the song is very low in starting and increases with time. Music instruments are started only when two lines of the song are finished. Primarily these are two line couplets. Sometimes these are in form of questions and answers. This dance continues till Kartik Purnima.
Dress – Dancers, instrument beaters and their associates wear a clean turban on head. Some people like to put on Dhoti up to knees (long cloth wore by men enwrapping their waist). Some people specially dancers wear colorful shorts. Dancers also keep bunch of peacock feathers.
Music Instruments Mradang, Dholak, Ramtula, Dhapli, Manzira, Jhanz etc. are used in this dance.
Saharias are tribal people who live in jungles. They work in farms and also collect medicinal plants from jungles. There are several dances of Saharias. Some of the important ones are: Lur Dance, Lanhgi Dance, Dul-Dul Ghodi Dance, Raya Dance, Ada-Khada Dance.
Lur dance of Saharias
This dance is performed on the occasion of marriage starting from the day of ritual of “Haldi” (In this ritual whole body is pasted with turmeric and after sometime it is removed so the body is cleaned) till the arrival of Barat (Bridegroom comes to the house of the bride with his relatives and friends for marriage ceremony).
Lanhgi dance of Saharias
This dance is also known as Danda(baton) dance because Saharias dance with small batons in their hands with which they strike at each other and perform Lanhgi dance. Only men are allowed in it. This dance is performed on the occasion of Bhujarias, Teja ji puja and Aekadashi etc.
Dul-Dul Ghori dance
This dance is performed on the occasion of marriage by males. In this dance a hollow case of ghori (mare) is prepared of bamboo sticks. The dancer stands in the hollow place and dances.(depicts various movements of mare.) There is also a joker in women clothing. People sing folk songs during the dance.
Jagnik was a folk poet of 11th-12th century. At that time some poets used to write biographies of folk warriors. These biographies were called “Raso”. Jagnik wrote “Parmal raso” or “Alha khan” Which contains the description of 52 battles fought by Bundeli war heroes Alha and Oodal. The style of singing alha khand has a unique distinction and it is very popular in the region. Dholak, timaki, jhinka, and majira are its musical instruments. People who sing alha are called “Alhet”. Lalloo vajpayi is a very famous alhet.
Ghag was a folk poet of Mughal period. His couplets are full of humor and normally have a message for common men. One of his poem is:Ghar ghod paidal chale Teer chalave been Thati dhare damade ghar Jag mai bhakua teen
In this poem Ghag is saying there are three types of fools in this world. First who would walk on foot even if they have a horse i.e. not using the resources. Second who would use Been (a sort of music instrument) in lieu of arrow i.e. doing wrong work. Third who would keep their savings in the house of a son-in-law because son in laws demand dowry in India.
Cheel Pata Pat Ghaghar Gholi This is a game of girls. This game is particularly played in moonlight. In this game girls sit in courtyard in such a way that their ankles and the feet meet together. In this position they sing “cheel pata pat ghaghar gholi” and clap once then they move a bit aside. Suddenly a girl say “furra” and all the girls climb to the courtyard wall the girl who does this in the last has to give “dav”. Giving “dav” means the girl has to touch some other girl. Other girls try to run away from that girl. This game continues till that girl touches some other girl.
This is a game of boys. All the boys stand in a circular path and choose a leader of the group. The leader of the group puts his hand on the chest of the boys one by one while saying ” Aati-pati mar gadha ki chhati, Tera ladka mera nati, Ja le aa babul ki pati”. On whomsoever this line end, needs to bring a leaf of Babul (Acacia Arabica). In the mean time rest of the boys hide themselves. When the boy returns with a leaf, he needs to find a boy. If he does then the boy who got discovered will go to bring new leaf and so on.
All national festivals, Diwali, Holi, Onam, Makara Sankranti, Vishu, Eid-ul-Fitr, Rakhi and other local ones like Nag-Panchmi, Ahilya Utsav, Ganesh Utsav, Garba (Navratri Utsav), Dussehara, Durga Puja are celebrated with equal enthusiam. Last decade has seen a rise in celebration of events like Valentine’s Day, Rose Day and New Year’s Eve.
Gwalior also celebrates Rang Panchami quite differently. This festival is celebrated five days after Dulendi or Holi. This is also celebrated like Dulendi, but colors are mixed with water and then either sprinkled or poured on others.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in a unique way in Gwalior city. Gwalior’s Peoples were arrange a carnival of floats (known as “Jhanki” in local Hindi language) in various places of city.
Makar Sankranti – is a ‘Kite Festival’ where people fly kites and competitions are held to cut each other’s kites in sky on 14th January each year.
Gwalior boasts the sports university, Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education (LNIPE). Gwalior is also home to the cricket stadium Roop Singh Stadium, named after the hockey player Roop Singh. The ground has witnessed many One Day International (ODI) Cricket matches including several Day-night encounters. It has an international swimming pool named Taran Puskar.