The Swang is a folk theatre form peculiar to the Himachal region. The
Shivratri celebrations at Mandi, the Dussera festival at Kulu, the Renuka
fair at Sirmaur, the Minjar in Chamba, the Jataras at Chattarahandi-Bharmaur
and the Holi fairs at Sujanpur, all have Swang shows. These shows are
also known as Jhankis or Dole (floats).
Some Swang plays are enacted at festivals. At the Lohadi
festival, the village boys act out the Haran Ka Swang and go dancing and
singing from door to door. In this a boy is dressed up as a golden deer
with a pair of horns upon his head and a deer skin around his shoulders
and the rest of the boys stands around him and beat drums and sing. This
Swang lasts through the night. In the Kinnaur region Swang shows are organised
in which demons are slain ritualistically and prayers invoking the blessing
of gods are recited.
In the month of December and January, the Swang of Googa
and Chandroli take place. These are full of songs and dance patterns and
are mostly enacted by the weavers or the Jhirs or troupes of traditional
singers. The Dandu or the Rolu who act as a clown in these, sends the
audiences into gales of laughter with his antics and lessens their burdens
of daily problems temporarily. The female counterpart of Dandu is Chandrauli
(Chandravali) who acts alternately as a hard to get arch female and a
shrew and the Rolu cajoles and coaxes her to relent. For a month, these
shows are enacted in various villages by traveling troupes of performers
who are presented with gifts of food and money by the villagers. The Googa
Swang is a source of amusement. The local singers who belong to the Natha
sect team up and go around from village to village singing songs for a
whole month during the monsoons. The Jogis go around with a large umbrella
made out of bamboo and leaves which is embellished with coloured strings.
Two young boys carry peacock feathers at the head of the processions and
dance to the beat of the drums assuming warrior like postures. The farmers
present food grains to these troupes. The grains collected thus are eventually
stored in the Bhandara on Googa Navami.
The Nanoo Vinayaka dance or Jhamakada or Navami Ka Swang
is also a special Swang enacted during wedding or at a sacred thread ceremony.
During a wedding day the womenfolk perform behind stage, a nightlong programme
of songs and dances known as 'Nautch'. In this the women dress up as men
and act out many incidents of domestic life. Men are not permitted to
see these and have to face hilarious punishments if they are caught peeping