Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kalbelia is a tribe of Rajasthan. In ancient times these tribal people were known for there frequent moving behaviour from one place to another. The dance which today is world famous, is an integral part of there culture and is performed to celebrate any joyful moment in the community. Such were the occasions that both the men and the women of the tribe used to participate in these dances wholeheartedly. Black and dark red are the colours which attracted these people and hence the clothes of the dancers (mainly females) as well. The upper body cloth is called "Angrakhi" and a piece of cloth worn on head known as "Odhani" similarly the lower body cloth is called "Lengha". All these cloths are nicely mixed in red and black hues and embroidered beautifully in such a way that when these dancers perform these clothes represent a rare combination of colours soothing to eyes as well as to the atmosphere. Musical part of the dance is taken care by the male participants which use different instruments to create the rhythym on which the dancers perform. As the performance goes on the rhythm becomes faster and faster and hence the dance. Instruments used by these people are called "Been", "Khanjari", "Morchang", "khuralio" and "Dholak".

The Kalbelia people are a nomadic tribe of snake-charming gypsies from the Indian state of Rajasthan. They have traditionally been a scheduled, or untouchable caste. Shunned by mainstream society, they have made their living through curing snake bites, ridding people's homes of snakes and showing the snakes to tourists for money while playing their homemade horns (the pungi is constructed out of a gourd and is the trademark sound in Kalbelia music). The Kalbelia people have barely changed their lifestyle since medieval times. Their tradition has been a cohesive source of pride. The following is the story of their creation: In ancient times Guru Jalandhernath (an incarnation of Lord Shiva) had two disciples. He asked that they each fill a cup with their art and learning. Gorakhnath, a gentle scholar, filled a cup with ambrosia while Kannipav, an audacious character, presented a cup filled with the venom of snakes and scorpions. The angered Guru set a curse upon Kannipav, that he and his descendants would forever live outside the limits of towns and villages and earn a living as snake-catchers. The Kalbelia people believe that this legend is the source of their wandering lifestyle and accept living on the margins of society as their karma and fate. They worship Kannipav Nath Ji as their founder and guru and believe that wandering is their duty. They wear a black rajputi (the traditional dress of Kalbelia women), which is comprised of a fitted blouse and a long skirt which they cover with silver ribbons


and sequins. This costume, which is now so closely associated with the dance, was also the creation of Gulabi. Their elaborate jewelry is made from beads and silver. Men also perform and their most notable piece of costuming is a brightly-colored pagri, or turban. 
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