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Music Rise above all Barriers: Meet the Mirasis of Rajasthan

When people belonging to Mirasi community of Rajasthan took liking for music, they lost all their property and prestige

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Mirasis of Rajasthan. Image source: 1080.plus
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  • The word Mirasi comes from the Arabic word “miras” which stands for glorious past or heritage
  • The children of the Mirasi caste were denied admission in public schools for a long time
  • Mirasis are trapped in an institutionalised caste system where there is no respect for their talent

Legend has it, the Mirasi caste of Rajasthan, has a glorious past where they were not  a backward community but immensely wealthy. Later, when they took liking to music, they lost all their property and prestige. Thereby, they took to the profession of singing for the pleasure of others. For as long as India can remember, they have written and composed folk songs, trying to keep the folk tradition of Rajasthani music alive. However, these people are looked down upon by others, especially those belonging to upper-caste Indian communities.

An ancient Mirasi. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

The children of the Mirasi caste have been denied admission in public schools for a long time. These people go from place to place, performing to entertain the audience, yet, never earn any appreciation for their art. They are trapped in an institutionalised caste system where there is no respect for their talent but there is every scope for being ridiculed by the apparently well-off upper castes and classes of the society. They get the worst of the prejudiced Indian societies.

Mirasees of Rajasthan. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

About a decade ago, New York based non-governmental organisations like Folk Arts Rajasthan (FAR) and India-based Lok Kala Sagar Sansthan or folk arts organisation have taken over the responsibility to create better living and practising conditions for the Mirasi people. They encourage their music, aid them financially to ensure that they have whatever  they need to improve their music and provide them opportunities to showcase their talents in places where they will indeed be appreciated. All in all, the organisations are making an effort to re-establish the respectable position of the Mirasi people in the Indian society. They have made it possible for the Mirasi children to attend public school which was previously not allowed.

Mirasees perform at an event. Image Source: daijiworld.com

A representative of the Lok Kala Sagar Sansthan, Hanover Wadia told The Hindu, “The community is used to a ‘jajman’ system where it’s their mere duty to play music rather than it being appreciated as an art form. There is no dignity or respect left in the songs that they sing, and hence, they find a connect with larger audiences away from their villages who appreciate their music.”

Bollywood often uses the folk tracks of Merasis, by translating them to Hindi. Not just that, the Mirasis also get offers from musicians from other genres who want to collaborate with them to make fusion. However, they never pay heed to such things. They want to keep their culture of music, pure.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    It takes great courage to leave all wealth and take music just for the sake of others’ pleasure

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Hindus In Delhi Push For A Temple On The Ruins Of a Mosque

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

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Supporters of Vishwa Hindu Parishad gather during a rally in New Delhi, Dec. 9, 2018. The group gathered thousands of supporters to demand the construction of a Hindu temple on a site where a mosque was attacked, demolished in 1992. VOA

Tens of thousands of hardline Hindu protesters marched in New Delhi on Sunday, calling for a grand temple to be built on the ruins of a destroyed mosque in a flashpoint Indian city.

Trident-waving devotees clad in saffron filled a huge parade ground in the Indian capital under tight security, where speakers warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would not let up until the temple was sanctioned.

Some of Modi’s supporters feel the Hindu nationalist leader has not done enough to raise a shrine at a site in Ayodhya, a city believed by many to be the birthplace of the deity Ram.

The site was home to a medieval mosque for 460 years until Hindu zealots tore it down in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims.

Its future has been tied up in courts for decades but some hardliners want Modi, who is seeking reelection in 2019, to push parliament to guarantee the temple by law.

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“The gathering here is telling you that Hindus won’t sit back until the temple is built, and our wishes are respected,” said Champat Rai, the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group that organized the protest.

Demonstrators chanting “Praise be to Ram” packed the Ramlila Maidan, a vast ground capable of holding more than 50,000 people, and filled the surrounding streets.

Some carried maces and tridents — weapons traditionally wielded by Hindu gods — and traveled great distances by train and bus to reach the rally.

“We have come here to protect our religion and Hindu pride. We want a temple for our Lord Ram,” Hitesh Bharadwaj, a teacher from Delhi’s satellite city Noida, told AFP.

The hardline VHP has applied pressure on Modi in recent weeks, staging a huge show of force in Ayodhya itself last month.

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Photo credit: theguardian.com

A close ally of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the group is spearheading a push to raise the Ram temple, and is calling for more protests as the premier prepares to go to the polls by May.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when its top leaders, including Modi, backed a growing movement for the construction of the Ram temple.

Its advocates want parliament to introduce a law bypassing legal hurdles blocking the temple before Modi’s term ends.

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The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

“We don’t care about the courts. A grand temple will be constructed in 2019,” Sushil Chawdhary, a VHP leader, told AFP. (VOA)