Make Your Own Ghungroo – Indian Style Ankle Bells

This craft has been shared with us by award-winning multicultural musician “DARIA-” Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou. Thank you so much for this great craft idea!

Make Your Own Indian Style Ankle Bells
Summer is a wonderful time for exploring world cultures through the arts. Here’s a way you can get crafty, play with music and explore world cultures all at the same time.
Homemade Gunghroo- Kid World Citizen

Things That Jingle – All Around The World
All around the world people like to put bells and objects that create sound on their wrists, ankles and waists.  In African and the Amazon rainforest, there are anklets made of clacking seedpods.

Chapchas Musical Instrument- Kid World Citizen

Chapchas: a musical instrument from the Andes (South America) that uses goat nails to make noise

In the high Andes, you can find goat toenails sewn onto a bracelet of sorts – called chapchas.  Native American dancers from the East Coast of Turtle Island (the United States) often wear deer toenails on their ankles to add to the rhythm of their dance. Pueblo dancers have ornate belts with tiny metal bells that are worn when dancing in ceremonies.  It’s wonderful to explore how movement can create music in so many different ways from culture to culture.

Ankle Bells In India
Ankle bells play a special part in Classical Indian dance and in belly dancing.  In Indian dance, there’s a great deal of emphasis on movement of the eyes, the palms of the hands and the feet.  The ankle bells draw special attention to the elegant footwork of the dancers.

Traditional ankle bells are known by various names in different parts of India. In Tamilnadu, they are known as salangai.  In Kerala, they are called chilanka.  Sometimes these musical anklets are strings of bells that look like a piece of jewelry.  Sometimes they are fastened to a lovely string or chord. In North India, you can find ankle bells called ghungroo.  Most often, these special ankle bells consist of rows of jingles sewn into place onto leather or cloth pads then buckled or tied securely onto a dancer’s ankle.  Young dancers have smaller anklets with 2 to 4 lines of small bells and adult or professional dancers will often have 4 or even 5 lines of bells.Indian Ankle Bells Blue- Kid World Citizen

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Kids and Ankle Bells
It’s great to allow kids to explore sound through movement by playing with ankle bells.  You can do this while playing music from India or experiment with how ankle bells sound when dancing to your favorite songs or other types of music.   Kids can tap their feet or stomp in time with the music.  They can also march or dance and the bells will create different rhythms that mirror their moves.  Creating sets of ankle bells made with different materials or in different sizes and shapes will also allow kids to experiment with the different sounds they are creating as they dance.

Make Your Own Ankle Bells
Making your own ankle bells is an easy and satisfying project! Here’s a list of supplies that you can use for this project:

Supplies for a basic anklet:
Colorful yarn
Jingle bells of various sizes, shapes, colors or materials

Supplies for an Indian Style anklet:
2 pieces of felt – approximately 12 inches by 3.5 inches
Small strip of Velcro
Jingle bells of various sizes, shapes, colors or materials
Needle and Thread

For the simplest project, you can start with yarn and either finger-weave or braid an anklet, leaving space at various intervals to add a jingle of your choice.  When it’s the correct size, simply tie it into place.

Bells Sewn Indian Gunghroo- Kid World Citizen

For ankle bells that look more like the Indian ghungroo, start with a rectangle of felt, leaving space for an overlap of about ¾” for the velco strip.  Place the bells on top of your felt in the order you like.  You may wish to make marks with a pen to indicate where each bell will be sewn as it helps to keep them in straight lines or in place for a particular pattern.  Then sew each one into place.

Next, either sew or stick the Velcro into place on the same side as the bells and check that the anklet will fasten securely.

Finally – put them on, dance around and have fun!

Want to explore more instruments or music from around the world?  Check out the following web sites and resources:

DARIA’s “World Music for Kids” website.
Musical Craft Activites and Coloring pages
Musical CD’s by DARIA featuring songs in 8 different languages
Daria’s monthly song page with free songs, contests, give-aways and lots of resources for parents and teachers
Creciendo Con Música – A Spanish Language Kids Music Blog
A German Language “Kids Make Music” Blog

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  1. says

    These look like so much fun – my girls would love them, and I really enjoyed reading about all the different musical bracelets. I had never heard of one made with goat nails before!


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