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Manganiar, Manghanhar
Manganiar performing at a festival.jpg
Manganiar children performing with their guru at Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur at World Sufi Spirit Fstival in 2016.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Rajasthan, India · Sindh, Pakistan
Marwari · Sindhi

The Manganiar are a Muslim community found in the desert of Rajasthan, India; mostly in the districts of Barmer and Jaisalmer. Significant numbers are also found in the districts of Tharparkar and Sanghar in the bordering province of Sindh in Pakistan.[citation needed] They along with the, Langha comunity, are known for their folk music. They are the groups of hereditary professional musicians, whose music has been supported by wealthy landlords and aristocrats for generations.

History and origin[edit]

The Manganiars consider themselves descendants of the Rajputs and are renowned as folk musicians of the Thar desert. Their songs are passed on from generation to generation as a form of oral history of the desert. They sing songs about Alexander the Great, about the local Maharajas and past battles in the region. Manganiars have survived for centuries on the patronage of wealthy merchants in caravan towns, particularly Jaisalmer where there is an important settled community today. The traditional jajman (patrons) of the Manganiar are the locally dominant Rajput community, while the Langha have a similar relationship with the Sindhi-Sipahi, a community of Muslim Rajputs. At times of birth, marriage or any family festivity for their Rajput patrons, the Manganiar musicians sing songs of the desert and many specially composed songs to praise the patron and his family[citation needed][dubious ].

Though Manganiar and Langhas communities are Muslim, in Rajasthan many Manganiar songs are in praise of Hindu deities and celebrate Hindu festivals such as Diwali and Holi where the performers traditionally invoke the Hindu God Krishna and seek his blessing before beginning their recital. However lately few members of Manganiar community have started converting from Islam to Hinduism under preaching and influence from Hindu organisations.[1]

Present circumstances[edit]

In 1978, Jodhpur-based musician Komal Kothari provided the Manganiars with institutional support, allowing them to sing outside the state for the first time. Currently, several Manganiar groups tour internationally.


The 17-string khamaycha is a bowed instrument. Made of mango wood, its rounded resonator is covered with goat skin. Three of its strings are goat intestine while the other 14 strings are steel.

The khartaal is a kind of castanet made of teak. Its name is derived from "Khar", meaning hand, and "Taal", meaning rhythm.

The dholak is a hand drum similar in timbre to a bongo. A dholak may have traditional lacing or turnbuckle tuning. The dholak has a simple membrane and a handle on the right hand side. The left hand membrane has a special coating on the inner surface. This coating is a mixture of tar, clay and sand (dholak masala) which lowers the pitch.

Notable people[edit]


External links[edit]