This nomadic tribe in Gujarat has an ear for music

This nomadic tribe in Gujarat has an ear for music

They are not trained in the art of music but are in demand for performing in various parts of the country and for different occasions.

Motipura, known as the village of musicians, is seeing the fourth generation of untrained musicians swaying the audience across the country. They may not be trained musicians but have an excellent ear for music.

The musicians are basically from a nomadic tribe but now settled in Motipura, about 10 km from Sanand, an automobile hub in Ahmedabad district. History has it that a tribal had impressed the royals of Sanand with his music. “After coming to know that dada (forefather) was an untrained musician and still played such melodious tunes on the shehnai, the king gifted him a patch  of land,” claimed Jivanbhai Nayak, who plays the shehnai in his troupe.

The village has seen visitors from various parts of the country inviting musicians to be part of their family functions. Whether it is a thread ceremony, marriage or even Ganesh pooja, musicians from Motipura village walk away with honours.

“In this village of  70 households, 45 are musicians and they travel to different parts of the country,” said Kalyanbhai Nayak, another performer.  They perform in groups of five and plan their trips well in advance.

“We travel in groups of five. We are available for all occasions and we decide the songs and the tunes that are to be played depending on the needs,” said Kalyanbhai.

Own attire

Every group has its own attire, giving an identity to it. Besides the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Rajasthan, the troupes have visited and performed in Chennai and Bangalore in the South and  Delhi and Jammu in the North and Kolkata in the East.

“Initially, we get invites from a Gujarati family based in  different cities,” said Kalyanbhai . “We go for a function organised by any Gujarati family, whether it is a marriage or a sthapna occasion. If the invitees are impressed with our performance, they immediately get in touch with us and finalise the dates for performance.

Many of them collect our telephone numbers so that they can contact us when they want us to perform at their events. This happens virtually at every performance,’’ added Kalyanbhai. They have invitations for performances almost throughout the year as some event or the other happens.

“During elections, party leaders organise some functions to woo voters and entertain their workers, who are busy in electioneering. At that time they invite us to be a part of their functions,” said Kalyanbhai.

He said that even during the era of DJs and professional musicians, their business has not been affected as people still preferred the traditional shehnai and dhol on certain occasions.  “We have  participated in the state government-organised programmes for days together and that indeed helps us to showcase our talent to outsiders and earn a name,” said Khodidas Nayak, who is the dholak player in his group of five.

In the village, only a few are land owners and some are labourers as most of them believe in showcasing their talent and carrying forward their family tradition.

Importance to education

“I have realised the importance of education and I am sending my sons to school. But, at the same time, I also train them to play the shehnai and the dhol,” said

He said that he was hopeful that his children would become the fifth generation performers . “It is rewarding for us even financially,” said Khodidas.

Besides fare and accommodation, the troupes are paid for their performance. The payment per person on many an occasion touches even Rs 8,000-Rs.10,000. Apart from the agreed payment, musicians are tipped at functions.

During the Mahashivaratri, the Somnath temple trust calls one of the troupes for performance outside the temple. And their performance also finds a mention in the campaigns of Big B “Khushboo Gujarat Ki”--the promotional campaign of Gujarat tourism.

The women folk of these families too play a crucial role in the performance of these musicians. They are the ones who take care of their kurtas and caps. Every group has a different one. So, before every performance they ensure that these men are in their best not only in performance but also in their appearance.

Even villagers residing around Motipura take a pride as they are close to the village of musicians.  Locals call it Bajaniya (musicians).

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