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Drumming up support

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Engaged: The drum and marfa players are much in demand during this election season. -
Engaged: The drum and marfa players are much in demand during this election season. -

J.S. Ifthekhar

Hyderabad: The rhythmic beat of ‘teen-mar’ is infectious. The youth can’t hold back and break into a jig. As the ear-splitting din reaches a crescendo, the leader appears and waves to the surging crowd. A cry of ‘zindabad’ goes up.

In sound, smell and style it is a unique celebration of democracy. In the pulsating build up to the election, the voter is wooed as never before. And what better way to entice him than the typical ‘marfa daf’.

Come election and they are the most sought after group. No party can do without the bandwalas and cheerleaders. They pep up the election scene and literally drum up support for the candidates.

The band shops at A.C. Guards, Nampally, Shalibanda, Shamseheergunj are a beehive of activity.

The basti level leaders are already booking them. Once the nominations begin, they will have their hands full. “This being a marriage season we already have many orders”, says Hamid bin Saleem of Saleem Marfa Party in Chintalbasti.

The drum and marfa players are in demand round the year, but during the election season their demand goes up.

Some political parties book them for 15 days to one month at the rate of Rs. 3000 a day while some engage them on day to day basis. They are engaged for election rallies, public meetings and padayatras.

“It is tough going round the bastis beating drums for two to three hours continuously”, says Meraj of Sheri Band.

Some feel working for the elections is not as remunerative as marriages. Campaigning is usually a long drawn process while playing for a marriage is cool. Moreover, it also fetches lot of tips.

It is mostly the dhol, marfa and tiliya (brass pot) that is used. Sometimes the bandwalas also employ a huge brass pot to produce the ‘cham-cham’ sound.

Often the candidates insist on the bandwalas to put on their party cap and they oblige. Interestingly, the bandwalas themselves have no political leanings. Candidates they play for might win or lose – but they laugh all the way to the bank.


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