Q122. What is the Sikh attitude to dancing?
Dancing is a mode of entertainment in western countries. Sikhism applies the general test mentioned in the Scripture to any entertainment, namely, "Avoid that which causes pain or harm to the body or produces evil thoughts in the mind." (A.G.p 16) Dancing with partners of the opposite sex is likely to cause sensuous thoughts, for intimate bodily movement rouse the lower passions.
However, cultural dances like Bhangra, Gidda, Tiranjan etc. are not forbidden, but these should not be performed in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. Such dances are meant for social occasions or festivals and have no religious significance. There are other religious dances which are done by the Hindus (as for example Ras-Lila), and also by Muslim Sufi mystics. Such dances are not permitted in Sikhism. What the Guru permitted was 'the dance of the mind', and not of the body. The Guru says:
"O my mind, dance before the Guru;
If you dance according to the will of the Guru
You will gain happiness, and the fear of death will vanish." (AG, 506).
This kind of dance is the result of spiritual ecstasy, and is free from physical jerking and gymnastics.
Similar is the Sikh attitude to Discotheque. Disco is a blend of physical movements related to loud pop music. The lights in the hall or the room are deliberately kept dim to enable the partners to get closer and make love easier. As disco is likely to arouse sexual feelings, it is not permitted to the Sikhs. Dances purely for the promotion of physical health or fitness are not taboo. Similarly dating or mixing of boys with girls alone for the purpose of illicit love or petting or flirting is forbidden in Sikhism. However, the meeting of a boy with a girl in the presence of their parents or elders of the community in connection with a marriage proposal is permissible.