Once Buried Alive, 49-YO Padma Shri Put Rajasthan’s Kalbelia Dance on The World Map

Gulabo Sapera performing Kalbelia dance

Gulabo Sapera from Pushkar, a survivor of female infanticide, is now a role model for many girls. Watch her journey of mastering the Sapera folk dance and taking it to the world stage.

A survivor of female infanticide, this woman from Rajasthan has defied all odds to bloom in the patriarchal landscape and create history in more ways than one.

“I was buried alive for seven hours before my mother and aunt dug me out of my grave. Today, I have represented India in Kalbelia in over 165 countries,” says Gulabo Sapera, a sensational Kalbelia dancer from Pushkar.

She is going all guns blazing to preserve her dance form, putting the sapera (serpent) dance on the world map.

Over the years, she mastered the traditional dance form and participated in several functions organised by the government. Performing on the international stage in Washington DC in 1985 was the turning point of Gulabo’s life, and there has been no looking back since.

The 49-year-old also imparts free lessons to girls from rural areas of Rajasthan and runs a dance school in Denmark to expand her legacy internationally. “From snakes, I learnt how to form a U-shape with the body, hip moves and swirls,” says the sensational freestyle dancer.

In 2016, Gulabo was bestowed with India’s fourth-highest civilian award Padma Shri for her outstanding contribution to enhancing India’s folk dance culture. The money she earns is used to support sapera (serpent) dancers who were out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gulabo highlights the dire need to preserve this art form while stressing the need for government attention to support the livelihood of artisans.

Watch this video to learn more about this renowned dancer:

(Edited by Pranita Bhat)