The rhythm of women who beat their own drums

Members of the Nari Gunjan Sargam Mahila Band. Photo: Sumit Sharma

Members of the Nari Gunjan Sargam Mahila Band. Photo: Sumit Sharma

We discussed saris. We exchanged notes on walking shoes. We talked about tired bodies and bruises caused by the shoulder straps of our equipment—their drums and my camera. We spoke about the excitement of new places and the joy of food. We talked about the freedom of travelling for work without husband and children with us.

Savita, Anita, Pancham, Chhatiya, Sona, Lalti, Bijanti, Domni, Manti and Chitrekha are 10 women from Dhibra village, Danapur, who have trained and come together to form Bihar’s first all-women band of drummers: The Nari Gunjan Sargam Mahila Band. Nari Gunjan, which literally means the humming of women, is a non-governmental organization established by Sudha Varghese that works among the Musahar and Mahadalit communities in Bihar, addressing issues of rights, education, livelihood and violence against women. After training for eights months with Aditya Gunjan Kumar, a music teacher who visited their village from Patna, these women have been performing at weddings, ceremonies and festivals and have received great acclaim for their performances.

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