Rajasthan:  Manganiyar and Langa folk musicians

The Manganiyar and Langa are both exclusively hereditary communities who make their livings as musical performers and genealogists for higher-caste patrons. Both groups are Muslim, but the Langa’s patrons are Muslim Sindhi Sipahis, whereas the Manganiyar’s patrons are mainly Hindus. The Langa’s main traditional instrument is the sindhi sarangi; Manganiyar’s is the kamaicha. Both are bowed stringed instruments with skin membrane sounding boards and many sympathetic strings. Both Langas and Manganiyars sing and play the dholak (double-headed barrel-drum), the kartal (wooded clappers), the morchan (jaws harp), and the ubiquitous harmonium. Their repertoires overlap—having experienced cross-fertilisation at the training camps instituted by the eminent folklorist Komal Kothari and on performance tours abroad, also first promoted by Komal Kothari. Another factor which possibly contributes to similarities in their music is the likelihood that they are both remnants of a group which were originally of the Dholi musician caste from which they appear to have emerged as late as the latter half of the nineteenth century. Manganiyars and Langas never intermarry with or teach their music to members of other Rajasthani communities. They speak of music being ‘in their blood’. 

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Nicolas Magriel

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© Lucy Durán, Nicolas Magriel, Geoff Baker 2011