A musical success story spanning several generations: The Kalbelia gypsy group who “never collaborated with any musician” – Rajasthan

Sumiran Atal, Indian Express, Pune, August 18, 2016 | To read the full article, click here >>

The history of the group – the Kahlbeliyas [Kalbelias] – is nearly seven generations old. It was formed by musicians who migrated from Afghanistan to Rajasthan several decades back, and is being continued by each coming generation.
Nine members of this 250-member group were in the city recently for a performance at the Monsoon Festival at Osho Meditation Resort in Koregaon Park. The name of the group is derived from the term used for snake charmers in Rajasthan.

The tribal gypsy community in Rajasthan who live in the forests and deserts are snake charmers because it is the snake who can be a threat for them in those areas. So the name comes from there. Kahlbeliya is also a form of folk dance performed by both men and women of this tribal community,” explains Ustad Bundu Khan Langa, the main artiste of the group.

Bundu Khan hails from the Langa community of Rajasthan, and has been singing for the group since he was 11 years old. He comes from a family of musicians and received his early training in Sindhi sarangi from his father Ali Jan Khan and inherited his musical talent from his maternal grand-father Ustad Alauddin Khan Langa. He claims to have performed in 117 countries.

The music comprises traditional Rajasthan folk music and the genre is known as ‘Manda Gayaki’. The numbers are inspired by the deserts of Rajasthan and ‘Gorband’-the decorative cloth used for camels. Other than Sindhi Sarangi, dholak, harmonium and khartal, the group uses instruments such as ‘alghoza’ (a pair of wooden flutes) and ‘morchang’ (a wind percussion instrument consisting of a metal ring in the shape of a horseshoe with two parallel forks which form the frame).

With numerous music festivals being organised across the country that celebrate traditional music, the Kahlbeliyas feel that it is a good time for folk musicians. “Yes, it definitely is a good time for traditional musicians. That is how Indian traditional music is being recognised and appreciated across the world. People from various countries love to listen. They might not understand the language, but they understand the feelings behind the songs,” Bundu Khan said, adding that the group has never collaborated with any other band or musician and do not even intend to do so in future. […]

Source: ‘It’s a good time for traditional musicians’ | The Indian Express
Address: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/its-a-good-time-for-traditional-musicians-2981758/
Date Visited: Sat Feb 04 2017 20:32:02 GMT+0100 (CET)

Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan – Unesco

Songs and dances are an expression of the Kalbelia community’s traditional way of life. Once professional snake handlers, Kalbelia today evoke their former occupation in music and dance that is evolving in new and creative ways. Today, women in flowing black skirts dance and swirl, replicating the movements of a serpent, while men accompany them on the ”khanjari” percussion instrument and the ”poongi,” a woodwind instrument traditionally played to capture snakes. The dancers wear traditional tattoo designs, jewellery and garments richly embroidered with small mirrors and silver thread.

Kalbelia songs disseminate mythological knowledge through stories, while special traditional dances are performed during Holi, the festival of colours. The songs also demonstrate the poetic acumen of the Kalbelia, who are reputed to compose lyrics spontaneously and improvise songs during performances. Transmitted from generation to generation, the songs and dances form part of an oral tradition for which no texts or training manuals exist. Song and dance are a matter of pride for the Kalbelia community, and a marker of their identity at a time when their traditional travelling lifestyle and role in rural society are diminishing. They demonstrate their community’s attempt to revitalize its cultural heritage and adapt it to changing socioeconomic conditions.

Video: to watch a video documentary with subtitles of song lyrics on the Unesco.org website (duration 9:38), click here >>

Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan (India)
Representative List – 2010
Film ‘Kalbelia dance’
© 2009 by WZCC, Udaipur, Rajasthan

Source: Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan – intangible heritage – Culture Sector – UNESCO
Address: http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/kalbelia-folk-songs-and-dances-of-rajasthan-00340
Date Visited: Sat Feb 04 2017 21:02:27 GMT+0100 (CET)

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