Skip to main content


Adorned in the unconventional black attire embroidered in colorful threads and beads, Gulabo Sapera has been captivating audiences worldwide with her mesmerizing dance form– the Kalbelia dance. Her name has become synonymous with the resplendent Kalbelia dance. But behind the intricate dance moves and vibrant costumes, lies a rich cultural heritage and a captivating history.

In the heart of the arid Thar Desert in Rajasthan, the Kalbelia community, also known as the snake charmers of Rajasthan, carries with them a history intertwined with cobras and the rhythms of dance. The origins of Kalbelia dance trace back to the 12th century within the Navnath community who worship Kanifnath, the twelfth disciple of Guru Gorakhnath. In the past, Kalbelia men would carry cobras in cane baskets, moving from door to door as they showcased their extraordinary bond with these reptiles. Accompanying them were the women of the community, dancing and singing their way into the hearts of those they entertained. This unique combination of serpents and performance birthed the Kalbelia Dance.

The dance is accompanied with the most important musical instrument, Gourd-pipe or as they call it Pungi. It is also called Been in some regions. The songs and dances form part of an oral tradition inherited from generation to generation. Kalbelia dance is a reflection of their daily lives and it has now evolved with time. The Kalbelia tribe’s way of life is deeply rooted in their nomadic existence. Their temporary homes, known as “Deras,” are testament to their migratory lifestyle. According to the traditions within this community, at least one family member must engage in snake charming as a means of livelihood, while women beg for alms by showcasing their traditional dance.

Born as Dhanvanti in Ajmer, Gulabo Sapera’s journey from fighting for her existence against female infanticide to becoming a global ambassador for Kalbelia dance is a story of courage, passion, and breaking societal norms. She grew up traveling with her father, who was a snake charmer. Her childhood was adorned with the presence of snakes, and she learned to dance alongside them. Despite the challenges and societal pressure, she pursued her dreams with unwavering determination, earning her the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2016.

At the moment, along with her, the group consists of her daughter Hema Sapera and daughter-in-law Rakhi Sapera as the dancers, accompanied by Pungi player– Harji Nath, Dhol player– Vikram Dholi, Nagada Player– and Dholak player– Ajay Bhat. This dance is more than just entertainment for them; it’s an embodiment of their history, struggles, and celebration of life. In recognition of its cultural importance, the dance form has been inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. 

Through its mesmerizing movements, elaborate costumes, and soulful music, the Kalbelia dance invites us to immerse ourselves in the world of Rajasthan’s nomadic culture and folklore. It is a celebration of tradition, nature, and the indomitable spirit of a community that continues to dance to the rhythm of its own heartbeat.


Rakhi Poonam


Ajay Bhat

Vikram Dholi

Harji Nath

Raghu Dhela


Contact GULABO SAPERA at +91 9528417807