Incredible Manganiyar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians

Manganiyar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians

The Manganiyar community of Rajasthan are hereditary musicians, famous for their Rajasthani folk songs, learn about them and their music here.

Manganiyar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians

The timeless music of the Manganiyar community has resonated through the shifting sands of the desert land of Rajasthan for generations. The “royal,” state of Rajasthan is an enticing mosaic of heritage, culture, and nature, and the Rajasthani folk songs of the Manganiar community bring alive the rich heritage of the state in all its glory.

Manganiar music has drifted across the sands of the desert of Rajasthan for centuries. The Manganiyar musicians have enthralled generations with their traditional music that transcends the frontiers of time and weaves together the legends of Rajasthan into garlands of music. This music of the Manganiyars opens a window into Rajasthan’s past, a past which is replete with tales of valour and chivalry of the Rajputs, and the mysticism of Sufi saints.

Manganiyar Community – Who Are The Manganiars?

Manganiyar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians

The Manganiyar community is synonymous with its music, which they have treasured as a legacy from their previous generations. The Manganiyar community sing folk songs of Rajasthan. Along with the Langha community, Manganiyars are hereditary musicians and folk singers of Rajasthan. The Manganiyars hail from the districts of Western Rajasthan, namely, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Barmer, and Jodhpur. Music for the Manganiyars is like water to a fish, it is the very essence of life for them.

Music is not a way of life for the Manganiyars, it is their very life!

Children in the Manganiyar community take to music like a fish to water. So much so, that even the cry of a newborn baby in the Manganiar community is believed to be melodious! They literally grow up to the sound of music, be it the sound of ballads of love that tell the tragic love story of Moomal and Mahendra or the songs of devotion to Lord Krishna. It is worth remembering that the soil of Rajasthan has nurtured many Bhakti saints including the legendary Mirabai.

Music of the Manganiyars has been handed down for generations and it is as if the musical genes are embedded in their very DNA. Children start learning music right from their mother’s wombs. Though women are traditionally not part of the Manganiyar musical groups, singing accompanies their daily tasks ranging from fetching water from the well, working in the fields, cooking, or cleaning. Children grow up listening to these songs, and the young boys start accompanying their fathers as part of musical groups at a very young age.

Manganiyar Community Origins – Mesmerizing Manganiyar Folk Music | Rajasthani Folk Musicians

Manganiar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians

The Manganiyar Musicians and their lilting music is something you would have definitely come across if you have travelled in Rajasthan. Though they are from different parts of western Rajasthan, you could have spotted them at many of the tourist spots of Rajasthan including Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner, and of course Jaisalmer.

The Manganiyars are Rajasthani folk musicians. A Manganiyar group of musicians usually consist of five or six members, and they mesmerize you with their songs and music that has a hypnotic appeal. Never mind if you are not able to grasp the meaning of what they are singing, the melody and the rhythm of Manganiyar folk music combined with their high energy quotient transcends the borders of words and language and draw you into a web of musical magic.

Manganiars Of Rajasthan

The origin of the Manganiyars and their music go back hundreds of years. It is believed that once a Maangan, a person who begs for a living begged a queen for her necklace. The queen smilingly acquiesced and gave him the necklace and from that day the community came to be known as Manganhar or Maanganhaar, the meaning of haar is necklace. The word gradually transformed into Manganiyar and the Rajput community opened their doors to them and the Manganiyars became an integral part of the social fibre of those times as musicians.

The Manganiars of Rajasthan, though traditionally family musicians of the rich Rajput families, today sing at different cultural events, and have even showcased their talent on the global stage. They perform to standing ovations at places that include the likes of Kennedy Centre in the United States of America, the Paris Opera in France, and the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Mame Khan

The Manganiars have been bestowed with many laurels and accolades. Anwar Khan was conferred the Padma Shri for his contribution to Rajasthani folk music and so was Late Sakar Khan. The music of Mame Khan, Kachra Khan, and Swarup Khan has captured the imagination of millions across the globe.

Manganiar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians

Inspired by the success of many from their community and buoyed by their inherent musical genius, there are many groups of Manganiyar musicians who sing in star hotels and events and aspire to give wings to their dreams. We met one such group during our stay at the Desert Palace in Jaisalmer. The group regaled us with classic Manganiyar Geet, and also gave us a glimpse of their lifestyle, culture, and traditions. The group hails from Jaisalmer and is called Nihal Khan and Party.

If you want to experience the magic of the music of the Manganiyar Community. Click here to check out this video.

Songs Of The Manganiyars

The Manganiyar And The Manganiyar Song – A Symbiotic Relation With Their Patrons

Manganiar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians

The Manganiyars have strong ties with their patrons known as Jajman who are from the Rajput aristocracy. The ties are carried forward from generations, as many as 10 to 12 generations or even more. The relationship of the Manganiyars with their patrons is fascinating and is an enduring ode to the secular fabric of India. The Manganiyars are Muslims from the Mirasi or Merasi caste, and their patrons are Hindu Rajputs.


The Manganiars and their Rajput patrons have a symbiotic relationship. The Manganiyars are an integral part of all events in their patron’s life, from the birth of a child to weddings, and festivals. They add an additional dimension to the celebrations of their patrons with their music. The patrons on their part reward them richly with cash, gold, land, cattle, and even camels. The Manganiyars settle close to where their Jajmans (Patrons), live and are always available to be part of their various celebrations.

Another onerous task that the Manganiars have is orally maintaining the genealogical history of the family of their patrons through a song which is known as Subhraj. They also eulogize their patron’s family in a song called Bakhaan.

Manganiyar Musical Instruments | The Manganiyar Musicians

Manganiyar Musical Instruments | The Manganiyar Musicians

One of the unique aspects of Manganiar Groups apart from their music is the unique musical instruments that they use to create music. Yes, they do use the more common musical instruments like Harmonium, Dholak, and Drums, but what is really fascinating are the musical instruments that they have invented, nurtured and evolved, over generations. These instruments are made by the Manganiyars themselves from locally available materials like wood, grass, animal skin, and bones.

Manganiar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians - Kamaicha

The main instrument that is part of the repertoire of the musical instruments of the Manganiyars is the Kamaicha. This instrument is also the oldest instrument used by them and is made from a single block of Mango Wood, which is covered with goatskin.

The Kamaicha is played with a bow made of Sheesham wood (Indian Rosewood ) and a string made from the hair of a horse’s tail. The Kamaicha is in many ways the soul of Manganiyar music, even though the instrument follows the contours of the notes of the vocalist, and breaks into its own, only during the interludes.


The Khartaal is the instrument that takes the music to frenzied levels. It is of fairly recent origin when compared to the Kamaicha, and consists of two sets of wooden clappers. The Khartal is the instrument that kids first take up and start their musical journey with.


Another unique musical instrument that is used by the Manganiar musicians is the Morchang. This is a very small harp made of wrought iron and is played by clenching it between the teeth and striking the tightly wound string with the index finger.

These instruments are great accompaniments for the heart-rending and soulful songs of the Manganiyars. But they have the ability to enthral you even without the vocalist. We were treated to a beautiful Jugalbandi of the Khartaal and the Kamaicha and later a tribandi in which the Dholak player also joined in. These instruments were played as if they were natural extensions of their bodies by the members of Nihal Khan & Party, on an unforgettable musical night at the Desert Palace in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.

Manganiyar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians

The Manganiyar are faithful to their ancient legacy of songs that have been handed over from generation to generation and preserve their sanctity, however, they are not averse to trying new and innovative music too. It is this dynamism rooted in tradition that makes their music so appealing. Some of the famous songs of the Manganiyars include the song about the tragic love story of Mahendra and Moomal, Kesraiya Balam, and Krishna Janam about the birth of Krishna, among many others.

The music of the Manganiars seems to echo the natural elements of the desert region, the wind caressing the sand, vegetation that survive the harsh elements and emerge victorious, and much more. Their music has the power to connect with your heart and soul and resonate through your being for a long, long, time.

We hope our post has managed to convey at least a fraction of the magical appeal that the music of the Manganiar community has. Do share your thoughts through the comments section. For more content on interesting and informative subjects, please subscribe to our blog and connect with us on our social media channels.

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The Manganiyar Community

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Incredible Manganiyar Community - Rajasthani Folk Musicians

Incredible Manganiyar Community - Rajasthani Folk Musicians

15 thoughts on “Incredible Manganiyar Community – Rajasthani Folk Musicians”

  1. Awesome blog.When i started reading I just started to fell in love with rajasthan.such a nice place who follow their tradition and beliefs.

  2. Most of my fauji life with my husband has been in the valley or in Rajasthan. Both places are beautiful but the warmth of the smile and vibrant culture that you find in Rajasthan is missing in Kashmir valley. It is as cold as the mountains.

  3. Rajasthan Itself is a colorful state and so are its cities be it jaipur, pushkar, or any other other, the vibrant colorful life and culture of Rajasthan always attracted me and I love exploring them. Rajsthani Folk music is experienced once in Jaipur Chokhi Dhan and another time in The nemrana fort. I love the vibrancy of the Rajasthani culture. Very well penned content

  4. Rajasthan is such a beautiful place with so many beautiful traditions. I have been to Jaipur last year and I really loved their culture and traditions. Their music their dance their food everything is so beautiful.

  5. I truly enjoy this kinda music but didn’t know it called as Manganiyar or Manganiyar community music. Have seen this in lot of movies that shot in Rajasthan ❤️

  6. I’m a travel addict and last October we had planned a trip to Rajasthan but we had to cancel it. Loved reading their culture and the details. Thank you for sharing, now I’m more excited to visit Rajasthan soon😍😍

  7. As always your post is so informative. I have not heard much about Rajasthani folk music. The only ones I have heard a bit is by Ila Arun. Good to know in such detail about Manganiyar community folk music.

  8. Got interested on this and tried listening to their music from YouTube so I have some idea what this article is all about. Words after all can’t explain the sound it brings. Fascinating, beautiful and unique music!

  9. Rajasthan is a magical place with a plethora of beautiful traditions. I was lucky enough to visit Jaipur last year and I was absolutely mesmerized by their culture, music, dance, and food. Their music is especially wonderful – it’s so joyful and soulful. I sincerely enjoy Rajasthani music.

  10. This blog post has really helped me to know about the various music forms of Rajasthan being a music lover enjoyed reading

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