Mrinalini was born into a famous Nair family called Vadakkath near Aanakkara close to Pattambi in present-day Palakkad district of central Kerala.
She was educated at Santiniketan under the guidance of Rabindranath Tagore where she realised her true calling.
Mrinalini got married in 1942 to the Indian physicist Vikram Sarabhai who is considered to be the Father of the Indian space programme.
She went for a short time to the United States where she enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
On returning to India, she began her training in the south Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam under Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai and the classical dance-drama of Kathakali under the legendary Guru Thakazhi Kunchu Kurup.
She is the founder director of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, in 1948, an institute for imparting training in dance, drama, music and puppetry, in the city of Ahmedabad.
A year later, she performed at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris where she received a lot of critical acclaim.
She was chairperson of the Gujarat State Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation Ltd.
She was also one of the trustees of the Sarvodaya International Trust, an organization for promotion of Gandhian ideals.
She was also the chairperson of the Nehru Foundation for Development (NFD).
She has been awarded by the Indian government with the national civilian awards Padma Bhushan in 1992, the third highest civilian award of India. and the Padma Shri in 1965.
She was honoured with the Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa (LittD) by the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK in 1997.
She was also the first Indian to receive the medal and Diploma of the French Archives Internationales de la Danse.
She was nominated to the Executive Committee of the International Dance Council, Paris in 1990.
She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, New Delhi in 1994.
She was presented with a gold medal by the Mexican Government for her choreography for the Ballet Folklorico of Mexico.
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