Another mission I had firmly planted in my mind for India was to find the gypsies of Rajasthan and witness first hand their unique and colourful dances. Traveling to Pushkar I managed to find them wondering the street’s- their strange instruments and deep gazes revealing themselves to me as ‘uncommon’ folk and before long I was on my way out of the small village being lead out into the desert, to the gypsy camp, with the promise of dance imminent.
And I was not let down- surrounded and entirely immersed by a whole camp full of rambunctious children- we watched enchanted in a swirl of colour and bells as the women twirled and spun with bare feet stamping in the dusty earth and the men sat in row with their peculiar instruments (percussion and a flute-like contraption called a ‘poongi’) sending ancient rhythms bouncing from the earth and grass walled huts.
This dance originates from the snake charmers of the desert and is characterised by wild and sensuous snake- like movements.
Although in recent history these dancers have been hired by great king’s and maharaja’s to perform outside of their village community, these semi-nomadic gypsies are still associated with squatters and thieves due to their low status in the cast system and continue to live much as they have done for many centuries.
Yet another ancient culture that blew me away completely and a priceless memory I will treasure always…