The Journey of Khamayati

Khamayati has been inspired by the rich and varied legacy of Rajasthani culture, and Komal Kothari, who worked with and established the modern context of these great traditions. SWRC Tilonia, Barefoot College, was initiated into understanding this extraordinary musical tradition, and collaborated with Rupayan Sansthan and Komal Kothari in organizing Lok Utsavs since 1984. The knowledge and legacy of Komalda’s tradition of collective work with folk culture continues to inspire all our efforts. Komalda was the touchstone for these activities. He always provided space for discussion so that the artists and performers could participate in discussions about their own problems. The transition from a feudal social relationship with patrons to modern musicians was facilitated by him.

Khamayati is the raga used as the invocation for the beginning of all concerts. The name was chosen as both an invocation, and a celebration of tradition. This is an effort to support and facilitate musicians to showcase their music by documenting and using modern methods to reach out to rasikas all over the world. The Khamayati website will record the vibrant repertoire and enable lovers of this great tradition to connect directly with the musicians. The project will look at their music, and the community’s socio-economic conditions. It will help wherever needed with providing support and assistance to create a better environment for developing their musical tradition.

These efforts were planned and held with the advice and guidance of Komal Kothari (Komalda, Komal Kaka) and Rupayan Sansthan. In the recent past, the threat of commercialization of the musical heritage has affected the artists and their tradition deeply. There is a deep economic crisis. There are more than 30,000 musicians with varied skills and layered exposure to markets amongst the Manganiars and Langas alone. The preservation of their music is a huge task. They have to fight against the tide of popular (modern) music and its intrusion. The form, content and context of their traditional role are threatened. They are being steadily eased out of their role as a community which played an important part in all community occasions and festivities. The modern music market has lionized some of them, but is hardly concerned about the condition of thousands of musicians. Though any complete solution to this problem seems impossible, the twin objective of preserving their tradition, and increasing an understanding of their music in the market, demand immediate attention. Carol Barker, Illustrator and art teacher has been a constant visitor to Tilonia since 1977. She published a book about SWRC called “Arjun and his village Tilonia” published in 1978. In recent years she has been fascinated by Rajasthani music and raised $50,000 from her son Julian Dunkerton, to help promote folk cultural expression and keep tradition alive.

The project began with a workshop in consultation with the Manganiars and Langas on the 28th and 29th January 2012 in Barmer. The name was collectively chosen and was a learning experience. There was general agreement that it would be in the memory of Komal Kothari (Komalda) whose consistent efforts pushed them to go beyond their limited confines.  Khamayati is the name of an auspicious raga which is sung to mark the beginning of all good ceremonies. The letter ‘K’ also invokes the name of Komalda.  The musicians collectively discussed critical issues, and looked at their own cultural richness and their future. Attention was paid specifically in re-establishing their repertoire, the dissemination of lyrics and songs, by documenting and using notations so that they could be preserved for posterity.