All-women music band in Bihar sings the tune of empowerment | patna | Hindustan Times
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All-women music band in Bihar sings the tune of empowerment

It was not an easy task for the women to claim their space in the village.

patna Updated: Dec 01, 2017 08:26 IST
Vijay Swaroop
The all-woman ‘Sargam Mahila Band’ performs  at Dhibra village in Patna, Bihar on November 25, 2017.
The all-woman ‘Sargam Mahila Band’ performs at Dhibra village in Patna, Bihar on November 25, 2017.(AP Dube/Hindustan Times)

Every morning, a nondescript village on the outskirts of Patna reverberates with the drumbeats of women.

Soon after their children and husbands leave for their work, 10 Mahadalit women of Dhibra village finish their daily chores, assemble on a rooftop and rehearse with instruments. Meet the Nari Gunjan Sangam Mahila Band, a one-of-its-kind band in eastern India that breaks social barriers and symbolises a new chapter in women empowerment in a state riddled by caste.

Their one-and-a-half year effort and determination is now paying off. Hardly a day passes by when the all-woman band is not booked for weddings or other occasions.

However, it was not an easy task for the women to claim their space in the village. “Everyone, including our husbands, dissuaded us,” said team leader Sabita Devi.

“The villagers would taunt us initially and we also felt shy. But today, not only our husbands, but also our children, feel proud of our achievement,” said Pancham Devi, one of the youngest members of the band. “They told us this is a man’s job. But we didn’t succumb to pressure,” said Chitrakhi Devi, 45.

The ‘Sargam Mahila Band’ performs at Dhibra village in Patna, Bihar on November25, 2017. (AP Dube/Hindustan Times)

The group owes its success to Padma Shri recipient Sudha Varghese, a social worker who established Nari Gunjan Sanstha, an NGO that works for women’s rights in Bihar. “Without her encouragement, we would have ended up as daily wagers,” said Sabita.

“Their dedication paid off. We just explored this as an option for livelihood and they grabbed it,” says Verghese.

The band turned professional at the fag end of 2014. From an initial daily earning of Rs500 per head, each band member today earns Rs1,000-1,200 per day.