Kalbelia Dance Festival Rajasthan(Last Updated 12 Oct, 2022)
The Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan are a part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in India. Energetic, elegant, flexuous, and martial, skillful art is one of the most cherished experiences of the desert state of Rajasthan.
Origin of Kalbelia Dance
The Kalbelia Dance marks a joyful event and is a vital part of the Kalbelia culture. Kalbelia community is the nomadic tribe of Rajasthan. Their occupation of trading snake venom and catching snakes has bestowed them with the title of Jogira, Sapera, or Jogi. Earlier, the Kalbelia men used to carry cobras in cane baskets and move from door to door.
Their women, however, used to accompany them while dancing, singing, and earning a livelihood from their stunning performances. It was from there that the Kalbelia Dance came into the picture. The sensual form of dancing mimics the movements of snakes in some ways. Kalbelia Dance is usually performed to celebrate a happy occasion. However, special traditional dances are performed during Holi.
Folk Songs and Dance Performances
Kalbelia is not only a dance form but a matter of pride for the Kalbelia community. The Kalbelia women feel immense pleasure in dancing while men accompany them with musical instruments, especially 'Poongi". The songs and dances form part of an oral tradition inherited from generation to generation. The dance form is the community's effort to revive its cultural heritage.
The women of the Kalbelia tribe twist, sway, and spin to the music played by their male counterparts. The moves made by them replicate that of the serpent. Glimpses of acrobatics are also evident in the dance, highlighting the dancer's litheness and flexibility.
The pace of the dance gradually increases with time and presents a sight to behold. While the women master the art of dancing, the men play the musical instruments skillfully. A number of traditional instruments are played like dholak, khanjari, sarangi, and most importantly, the poongi or the 'been.' Been is a conventional musical instrument used to charm the snakes and thus is an important part of the dance and the heritage of the tribe.
Attire worn during Kalbelia Dance
Exhibiting the vibrancy of Rajasthan and its connection to the snakes, the attire of the Kalbelia dance is very impressive, though always in black. The widely flared long skirt compliment well with the Angrakhi and the Odhani. A beautiful canvas of colors is created when the women dance to the impromptu lyrics and music. Tattoos, jewelry, and clothes embroidered with small mirrors and silver threads are other important parts of the Kalbelia Folk Dance.
Where is Kalbelia Dance performed?
To be enamored by Kalbelia Folk Songs and Dance performances, head towards the Thar Desert. The timeless desert is where it originated and is, to date, a cherished part of the culture. Attend a performance at Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Barmer, Jalore, Pushkar, or Jaipur. The folk dance has gained international recognition and is now an integral part of the heritage of Rajasthan.
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