Folk Arts Rajasthan (FAR)
Beginning as a grassroots effort in 1992, New York-based FAR was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2004 by Karen Lukas. Powered by the dedicated passion of volunteers, FAR is committed to securing a just and viable future for the Merasi.
Lok Kala Sagar Sansthan (LKSS)
Registered in Jaisalmer, India by Director Sarwar Khan in 1996, the NGO LKSS serves as a hub for the marginalized Merasi community.
“One hand on the pen, one hand on the drum, both hands on the dream.”
The Merasi Community: The Merasi are a marginalized community of northwestern Rajasthan (India) who carry a unique musical legacy more than 800 years old, an Intangible Cultural Heritage as defined by UNESCO.
For generations the Merasi have been scorned as ‘Manganiyars’, meaning beggars. Considered ‘untouchable’, denied access to education, healthcare, and political representation, most live in poverty yet aspire to improve their situation. Despite on-going caste-prejudice, they persist in their roles as oral genealogists, storytellers, and musicians.
To reclaim their identity as storytellers, the Merasi of Jaisalmer have shed the derogatory caste label ‘Manganiyar’ and proudly embraced the name ‘Merasi’, meaning musicians and is also a poignant symbol of self-determination.