Khushiali Groove: How music, dance, and art spring forth the community tradition

The medium of dance unites and bonds people across the globe. During the Diamond Jubilee festivities, raas was a prominent dance form enjoyed across countries celebrating 60 years of the Imamat of Mawlana Hazar Imam.


The music to which raas is played is rhythmic, very much like the movements of the dance. The movements are repeated in rhythm with the music and in coordination with the movements of others participating. Gestures are reciprocated and steps of one dancer are replicated by another so that identical movements are made by different individuals in the dance. The dandiyas symbolise ego which must disappear to be replaced by a sense of community if the individual and society are to regain spiritual health. The dandiya raas symbolises the giving up of the ego, which is most difficult to sacrifice.

This tradition has been appropriated and accepted by Ismailis rooted in South Asia. It brings the community together. Ismailis from the Pir Sadardin tradition celebrate Imamat Day and Salgirah Khushiali with this dance form.

It is said that while music soothes our soul, dance energises us. Dance is a form of celebration and through it we show our happiness. This was seen at the recent Jubilee Arts festival that was held in Lisbon, Portugal. Ismailis from around the world gathered and displayed different cultures and traditions, through art, song, and dance.

Forms of dance may vary across cultures, but dance as a whole is universal since most human movement is universal.Even if two people don’t speak the same language, it is likely that they will be able to understand each other through non-verbal communication. This can unite people who normally would not have the opportunity to verbally communicate.

Seema Jasani from Pune said, “During the Diamond Jubilee it was wonderful to see women and men of different age groups come together and practice Raas. I felt that the dance form makes us forget all our differences and come together.”

Nabil Patel from Mumbai said, “I eagerly wait for programmes that involve dance and music. It brings everyone together on a single platform. It unites people. Dance and music are an integral part of our culture and it is here to stay for generations to come.”