Rajasthan is well-known for its diverse cultural history. The land’s folk culture, which includes but is not limited to dancing, music, gastronomy, and literature, is particularly popular among tourists. Rajasthan has its unique kind and style of folk entertainment, with different dances and songs, due to the fact that it was ruled by monarchs from various ethnicities. The Kalbeliya dance form from Jaisalmer and the Ghoomar dance from Udaipur are the most popular. Intangible Cultural Heritage status has been granted to the Kalbeliya dance form by UNESCO in 2010.
The Kalbelia dance form, which is performed as entertainment, is an important aspect of Kalbelia culture. The Kalbelias’ dances and songs are a source of pride and identity for them, since they represent the community’s innovative response to changing socioeconomic conditions and their own place in rural Rajasthani society.
Kalbelia music are based on folklore and mythology stories, and distinctive Holi dances are done. The Kalbelias have a reputation for writing lyrics on the spur of the moment and improvising songs live. These songs and dances are part of an oral tradition that has been passed down through the years with no texts or training manuals. The dancers are women dressed in flowing black skirts who dance and swirl in a serpent-like manner in this Kalbeliya dance form.
Angrakhi is the name given to the upper body cloth, whereas Odhani is the name given to the piece of cloth worn on the head. Lehenga is the name given to the lower body cloth. All of these garments are embroidered and blended in red and black hues in such a way that when these dancers perform, their outfits symbolise a mixture of colours that are both pleasant to the eyes and to the atmosphere.
To generate the rhythm on which the dancers perform, the male participants play musical instruments such as the pungi, a woodwind instrument historically used to capture snakes, the dufli, been, the khanjari – a percussion instrument, morchang, khuralio, and the dholak. The dancers have traditional motifs tattooed on their bodies and wear jewellery and outfits that are heavily embroidered with miniature mirrors and silver threads. The dance and the rhythm become quicker and faster as the show goes.
To teach and learn Kalbelia music and dance, there is no organised training system or school, no manuscripts, and no written text. This folk art is passed down through the generations. Some of the best venues to see this dance form are Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Barmer, Jalore, Jaipur, and Pushkar.
To read about other importanat dance forms of Rajasthan, visit our blog posts https://desert.jaisalmersandsafari.com/ghoomar-dance-of-rajasthan/ and https://desert.jaisalmersandsafari.com/kathputli-dance-of-rajasthan/ .