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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) by October 1st.
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.
In Slocum Auditorium at 8-9:30PM MERASI: Master Musicians of Rajasthan will 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.