The malunga is a single-stringed musical bow played by the Siddi of India, who are the descendants of East African immigrants. It produces two tones, an octave apart, and the knuckle of the hand supporting the instrument may also presses against the string to vary the pitch. It is struck with a stick and, as with the berimbau of Brazil, the hand holding the stick also holds a rattle (in the case of the malunga the rattle, called mai misra). The malunga has a gourd resonator which amplifies the instrument's sound. The placement of this rattle along the string also varies the pitch produced by the Malunga.
The malunga is one of the instruments that is used in the religious practices of the Siddi, an extremely discriminated against people in India. This instrument is one of the few that are still in existence that can be played, though its scarcity is growing.
Attempt to save malunga
The religious practices of the Siddi are a vital part of their cultural identity and music plays a large role in these practices. Recently, a documentary was made about the Malunga and its importance to the Siddi. The message from this documentary was the rate at which these religious instruments are dying out; many of those able to play are elderly and disabled. The film crew sought to keep the cultural practice alive and implemented a camp for the new generation to learn to play the Malunga. The camp consisted of making the actual instrument, learning to play it, and learning to play it in the context of religious practice. The film can be viewed here: *Malunga Documentary