India : the slow death of the minstrels

Woman belonging to a minstrel caste. Rajasthan, India.

Minstrels are the custodians of a dying art. Formerly, Kasturi ( the woman above) accompanied her husband when he was visiting the villages of Rajasthan ( a state in western India) to perform. She used to sing and dance while he was playing “ravanhatta”, a local violin. Their performances were dedicated to local hindu gods and heroes like Pabuji, Gogaji,…rajasthani men who became saints because of their courage, their righteousness. Later, they became gods. Indeed, hindus believed ( and still believe) by worshiping them they would be protected against bad luck, snake bites,…

But life is tough for nomads. Because of their itinerant lifestyle, they are considered as untouchables : they have to live in uncomfortable camps in the outskirts of the villages, in the desert. After the death of her husband, Kasturi and her family have settled at Jaisalmer, a town in the Thar desert that has seen a touristic boom since 3 decades. They thought life would be easier. Unfortunately, TV and bollywood movies have replaced wandering musicians : Indians are no more interested by old songs and dances. Hence, money is still not there and Kasturi and her family are living now in a hut with rats.

About travelerreport

My blog is all about travelling and photography
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