Join our mailing list today and receive the latest indigenous news and information from Native Planet!

Each donation supports our cause and expands our efforts. (donations here via Paypal)
Share your time, enthusiasm and skills to make a difference on our Planet!

The Kalbeliya and Bopa Women:
Queens of the Rajasthan Desert

continued (page 3 of 5)

In Hinduism, the cobra is venerated as the ally of the most powerful Hindu god, Shiva. For centuries, Kalbeliya people, the snake charmer caste, have exploited the mystique and fear of the serpents for money. Kalbeliya men catch, defang and “charm” the cobras, training them to “stand” and sway out of a woven basket while playing traditional poongi flutes.. Even today, many Indians remain fascinated, and some are willing to pay for the chance to observe a mystic cobra, from a safe distance.

While looking for breakfast one morning, a young woman greeted me, “Namaste, what’s your name?” Without even looking at her, I barely touched the tip of her fingers and removed my hand quickly before she could grab it and begin drawing. Undaunted, she smiled and said, “My name is Anita. Where are you from?” I looked up to see a beggar unlike any I had ever seen before. In a worn purple satin dress with yellow stripes, covered with silver and plastic beaded jewelry, she stood like a queen from a fairy tale, looking into my eyes. Familiar with the charm of her beauty, she asked me to take her picture and started posing.

I rarely take photos of people posing, but Anita’s beauty and self-confidence as she moved gracefully and posed made her irresistible. I asked her to wait as I caught up with my wife, who turned back and told me in Japanese, “She is beautiful! She would be a great model!” I told Anita I didn’t have my camera with me but I wanted to photograph her. She said, “Let’s sit down, drink chai and talk.” Accompanied by another young woman she introduced as her sister, she led us to a small shop on a quieter street. As soon as we sat down and ordered tea, we were surrounded by a dozen more Kalbeliya women and children. Anita ordered a couple more cups of tea to pass around. As we knew we would end up paying the bill, we stopped the vendor at the sixth cup.

Page 3 of 5 | Next page »


The Kalbeliya Gypsy women, skilled dancers once hired to entertain kings and maharajahs, are now struggling to preserve their culture.
View more photos


Empowering Rajasthan remote villages

Native Planet and Indian NGO Nitigat have joined forces to assist remote desert villages of Rajasthan.


Rajasthan Cultural Eco-tours

Take an extraordinary journey deep into the remote Rajasthan desert to experience its colorful indigenous cultures first-hand.

  Privacy Policy
  © 2004, Native Planet, A Non-Profit Organization