Finding Their Place: Social Change and Merasi Identity & MERASI: Master Musicians of Rajasthan

On Tuesday, October 4th, the South Asia Center in conjunction with the SU Humanities Center and Departments of Anthropology, Religion and Art and Music Histories, will host two events featuring Merasi performers from Jaisalmer, India, a lecture and a performance, both open to the public.

Lecture:

The lecture Finding Their Place: Social Change and Merasi Identity will take place in 341 Eggers Hall at 12:30PM. Complimentary lunch will be served. Please RSVP to Emera Bridger Wilson (elbridge@maxwell.syr.edu) by October 1st

Musicians Photo

For generations, the Merasi of northwest Rajasthan, India have been scorned as "Manganiyars", meaning beggars. Considered "untouchable", they have been denied access to education, healthcare, and political representation. Traditional folk music is the Merasi's only recognized means of social worth and today despite on-going caste prejudice, they persist in their roles as oral genealogists, storytellers, and musicians. With the assistance of two non-governmental organizations, US-based Folk Arts Rajasthan (FAR) and India-based Lok Kala Sagar Sansthan (LKSS) the Merasi envision a tomorrow where they can live in peace and celebrate their heritage with dignity.

Performance:

In Slocum Auditorium at 8-9:30PM MERASI: Master Musicians of Rajasthan Musicians Photowill be hosted by the South Asia Center. The musicians will bring their ecstatic Sufi and sacred folk music straight from the Thar Desert. Merasi's infectious rhythms spring from thirty-eight generations of musicians who performed for Rajput maharajas and at temple festivals, where Muslim musicians, Hindu devotion, and rich local culture blend with striking results. An ensemble of nine virtuoso musicians spanning three generations will represent their community. The musicians interact with one another on stage sharing musical cues and launching into rhythmically complex instrumental and vocal improvisations. English-speaking members of the ensemble will give explanations of the music and culture between songs, as well as instrument demonstrations. Master musician, Dr. Sarwar Khan (pictured middle), has represented Rajasthani Folk Arts in performances on three continents.