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Kalbelia Dance UPSC NOTE


Kalbelia dance

  • The Kalbelia are a snake charming tribe from the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India.

  • The dance is an integral part of their culture and performed by men and women.

  • Their dances and songs are a matter of pride and a marker of identity for the Kalbelias, as they represent the creative adaptation of this community of snake charmers to changing socio-economic conditions and their own role in rural Rajasthani society.

  • The dancers are women in flowing black skirts who dance and twirl, replicating the movements of a serpent. 

  • They wear an upper body cloth called an angrakhi and a headcloth known as the odhani; the lower body cloth is called a lehenga. 

  • All these clothes are of mixed red and black hues and embroidered.

  • The male participants play musical instruments, such as the pungi, a woodwind instrument traditionally played to capture snakes, the dufli, been, the khanjari - a percussion instrument, morchang, khuralio and the dholak to create the rhythm on which the dancers perform. 

  • The dancers are tattooed in traditional designs.

  • They wear jewelry and garments richly embroidered with small mirrors and silver threads. 

  • As the performance progresses, the rhythm becomes faster and faster and so does the dance.

  • Kalbelia songs are based on stories taken from folklore and mythology and special dances are performed during Holi. 

  • These songs and dances are part of an oral tradition that is handed down generations and for which there are neither texts nor any training manuals. 

  • In 2010, the Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan were declared a part of its Intangible Heritage List by the UNESCO.

Kalbelia Tribes

  • Kalbelias are followers of Sage Kanifnath, who drank a bowl of poison and was blessed with control over venomous snakes and animals.

  • Kalbelias are divided in two main groups, the Daliwal and Mewara. 

  • The Kalbelias moved frequently from one place to another in ancient times. 

  • Their traditional occupation is catching snakes and trading snake venom. 

  • They rear snakes, dogs, hens, horses, donkeys, pigs and goats. 

  • They are also called Sapera and Jogira, Gattiwala and Poogiwara. 

  • The largest cluster of the Kalbelias is in Pali district, followed by significant other groups in Ajmer, Chittorgarh and Udaipur district. 

  • They live a nomadic life and belong to the scheduled tribes.

  • Traditionally, Kalbelia men carried cobras in cane baskets from door to door in villages while their women sang, danced and begged for alms.

  • Over the generations, the Kalbelias acquired a unique understanding of the local flora and fauna, and are aware of herbal remedies for various diseases which, in turn, is an alternative source of income for them.

  • Since the enactment of the Wildlife Act of 1972, the Kalbelias have been pushed out of their traditional profession of snake handling. 

  • Now performing arts are a major source of income for them and these have received widespread recognition within and outside India. 

  • The Kalbelias are Cultural Hindus and practise snake worship; they worship the Nāga and Manasa, and their holy day is Naga Panchami.

  • The Kalbelias have different traditions from the majority of Hindus. 

  • The Kalbelia men wear a Apadravya. 

  • Kalbelias bury their dead, instead of cremating them (as is common with Hindus in the rest of the country).



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Kalbelia Dance UPSC NOTE
Kalbelia Dance UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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