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Buried Alive As A Baby, How A Sapera’s Daughter Danced Her Way To A Padma Shri

” I was buried alive for nearly seven hours before my mother and aunt dug my mausoleum and pulled me out after hearing my ceaseles cries. I do not know if it was the grass encompassing the clay that helped me breathe or simply a fighting spirit that imparted a less-than-one-day-old baby from Ajmer’s Kotda village the strength. But I refused to give up on myself, ” says Gulabo Sapera, who bloomed in the patriarchal scenery of Rajasthan and went on to create history in more courses than one.

Years later, this girlfriend with an indomitable spirit was featured in a magazine; but her epithet was misspelt and, since then, to the world, she came to be known as Gulabo- the sensational Sapera( or Kalbelia) dancer from Pushkar who could bend in unimaginable ways.

When she turned one, Gulabo, originally identified Dhanvati, fell seriously ill and the doctors almost gave up on her, but once again she contended hard to live. A grow was placed next to her in the clinic, and checking the flower as a sign of good will, her father changed her name to Gulabi.

Buried Alive As A Baby, How Gulabo Danced Her Way To A Padma ShriGulabo Sapera

In 2016, Gulabo was bestowed with India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri for her outstanding contribution in enhancing India’s folk dance culture. Apart from this prestigious awarding, acceptances and accolades have run in ever since her first public performance in Pushkar Mela at 10.

“I still remember people clapping in appreciation and surprise after realizing my first performance. I failed to understand why they met around, took a few minutes out of their lives to see me but I felt very special. For the first time, I was not judged for belonging to a lower caste or being a girl. Dance gave me a fresh identity, ” she recalls.

From running a dance school in Denmark to expand her legacy internationally, lending free lessons to girlfriends from rural areas of Rajasthan to soon opening a dance school in Ajmer, Gulabo is going all handguns blazing to preserve her dance kind.

Buried Alive As A Baby, How Gulabo Danced Her Way To A Padma Shri

She takes her passion to grow as a dancer and welcome new developments very seriously. No wonder that, even at 49, she learnt video calling to launch online dance classes. The fund she gives is used to support sapera dancers who the hell is out of work due to the pandemic.

Gulabo’s life story is straight out of a movie with many high-priceds and lows, and it is her stance of establishing the world a better place through her artwork that is the hero, or rather heroine.

Of Snakes And Dancing

Buried Alive As A Baby, How Gulabo Danced Her Way To A Padma Shri

Gulabo’s father was out of the station when she was born. Upon his return, he learnt about the unfortunate incident that was a result of female infanticide, a practice that was prevalent in many parts of Rajasthan a few decades ago.

He called them out for their inhumane treatment of a newborn. Fierce with the man’s fight for equality, the village heads ostracized the family.

Her father was a sapera or snake charmer who would go around the village with a basket of snakes to been put forward performances that would typically include hypnotizing snakes with an instrument called a pungi, juggling and other such acts.

Buried Alive As A Baby, How Gulabo Danced Her Way To A Padma Shri

When Gulabo was barely six months old-fashioned, her father-god started taking her on his performances. She would effortlessly tap to the songs of pungi alongside the snakes and would copy their moves. From them, she learnt twirls and flexibility that later turn the base of her brand of sapera dance.

Here’s her jaunt from dancing with serpents to being spotted by Tripti Pandey and Himmat Singh, who worked with the Rajasthan Tourism Department at Pushkar Mela.