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Jaipur Travel Guide

Mujra



Since ancient ages, before that hip-trusting Hindi-movie was showed, when the Mughal Empire ruled in India, Jairpur was the center a suggestive Rajasthani dance, based in Kathak and infused with fast spinning, swift movements, and graceful hand gestures of Persian influence, which was known as Mujra, and was considered as the highest expression of culture in Jaipur. During these times the dance was exclusively performed for upper class young men, and was practiced only in Kothas (special havelis), where the privileged had the man audience, they reclined on bolsters and ornate appliqué mattresses while the women dancers known as tawaifs performed the dance accompanied of harmonium and percussion. The dancers were generally highly educated and refined, and could often pick and choose between the best of their suitors. Their costumes are similar to the dancer of Kathak that dress calf-length pleated ghoomar skirts that swirled open during spins, and long silk pyjama trousers with cuffs of small bells tied around the ankles to emphasize elaborate footwork.

Later, when the Mughal Empire died away, only certain families performed Mujra in Jaipur, safeguarding the tradition and passing the knowledge from mother to daughter. These families generally were well-to-do families in the city and they send to their sons to the Kotha academy to gain experience of music, poetry, and especially in dance, the Kothas of Jaipur were considered same as a school where courtesies and fine manners were learned.

Although tawaif could choose to her suitor, it was not rare that she got to become mistress of her clients, this fact and the studied suggestiveness to clumsy eroticism showed in the Hindu films or in Hindi karaoke, made that a tawaif was labeled as “whore”, the centers where the Mujra dance was teaching were closed and the families was left at the feet of prostitution by the British colonial movement Anti-Nautch. Around 1950s more of 35 Kothas opened their doors to teach the dance now only of ten to twelve establishments are opened.

Today, some Mujra dancers act in Hindi movies like doubles. The Mujra is considered a traditional dance and is part of classical Kathak, and is a example of the blend of two religions Hinduism and Islam; this dance is quite graceful and dignified manner of the Mujra dance that shows the beautiful expression of the Indian culture, is well showed in the films Umrao Jaan and Pakeezah. But the dance has his dark side; many prostitutes and sex industry keep relation with the traditional dance, especially in British cities.


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