Charkula is one of the most popular and a traditional folk dance of Uttarpradesh. It is popular in Braj region of Uttar Pradesh. Due to its ultimate popularity it is compared with Kathak one of the eight classical dance forms of India. Braj region has a dense population of the Hindus so this dance is popular among the Brahman Community of the Villages. It is especially performed on the third day after Holi.
There are some mythological stories related to this dance. The origin belongs to the Krishna era. This dance celebrates the happy victory over Indra by Krishna and the cowherd community of Braj. The story describes that Lord Krishna raised the mountain Govardhan on his little finger and saved the life of the villagers living there. Second story goes like this. It states that when Radha was born her mother ran outside with Charkula or oil-lamps on her head to deliver the new to the whole village. These facts make it an ancient dance form.
During the dance performance the women dancer balance pyramid. It is multi tiered .The tiers can range from6 to 8. Each tier carries a specific number of lamps depending on the total counts of lamp. The total lamps can range from 51 to 108. These lamps are called Charkula, which is from where the dance derives its name. Due to the load on the head of the dancer the movements are limited. The dancer cannot bend her body, nor can she move her neck. In spite of these limitations an expert dancer can dance. In addition to that she can glide and bend her body. These actions make it one most spectacular dance performance to watch. The performance can range from 15 minutes to 3 hours. A group performance can have a minimum of five to a maximum of fifty dancers.
The music consists of a popular tune known as Rasia which is very popular in Braj region of Uttar Pradesh.People here beleive that it is the song which belongs to Lord Krishna. It is the symbol of love. It is accompanied by the beats of a drum. The music department is in the hand of male singers and musicians.
This visually attractive, dramatic dance is performed on festive occasions. In addition to that the dance reflects the lifestyle and beliefs of the people.