Nari Gunjan (woman’s voice) was formally registered as a charity by Sudha Varghese in 1987. A Catholic nun from Kerala, Varghese sought for the upliftment of people from the Dalit and Mahadalit communities. Especially the women and young girls, who are even marginalised within their own minorities.
In an effort to bring respectability and independence for Muhasar Mahadalit women and children of Bihar, the trust has, since inception created 97 alternative education centres, 900 women’s groups and 2 boarding-cum-school facilities.
They also provide vocational training in mobile phone repair, basic computing, and beauty courses, among others.
The Nari Gunjan Sargam Band came together in 2012, as one of the vocational skills training under the charity. Comprising of women from Dhabri village in Bihar, the band plays only percussion instruments.
Pancham, Chhatiya, Anita, Sona, Lalti, Manti, Bijanti, Domni, Chitrekha, with their lead drummer, Savita, were coached in just ten short months by Aditya Gunjan Kumar, who used to travel all the way from Patna to teach them music and rhythm.
Initially, the drummers were made fun of by the community for having lofty ambitions and doing a “man’s job” by performing at events and celebrations, but these women are, luckily, built of stronger stuff.
The drummers, now, earn more playing for one event, than they did earlier for spending the entire day on the field, and have performed at all the big-name venues, playing exclusively in Bihar until last year. Rather, they now want to enable their younger generation of girls to learn to play, too, because it has brought them fame, money and most importantly, respect.