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In Ambedkar University, an afternoon of Dalit assertion and pride with Ginni Mahi

By Pritam Singh Tinna, Twocircles.net

Music events are part and parcel of every University campus, but on February 1, the Ambedkar University campus students witnessed a slightly different affair: a performance by a young Dalit artist, Ginni Mahi, who has caught the nation’s attention over the past year.

Through her songs, Mahi, who hails from Punjab, has raised her voice against Brahminism along with asserting her identity. Needless to say, students who witnessed the event saw it much more than a simple concert. “Ginni Mahi is a shower of hope; of light in the music world. While many singers hesitate to disclose their Dalit background, Mahi is proud singing about it. Her song is a fire against discrimination,” said Dona Biswas, a student at the University.

Ginni Mahi sang her famous songs like ‘Danger Chamar’ and ‘Main Fan Babasaheb di’ along with the songs from her newly-released Album.

Biswas added, “For me, she is not a 17-year old singing and promoting Punjabi pop music. She is spreading the word of unity that Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and all Bahujans show in their resistance against socio-political discrimination.”

According to Dilip, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia University who had come to attend the show,  “Events where Dalit assertion takes place destruct and disturb the cultural meanings produced in our society. We always see Sharma sweets, Pandit pan shops…Savarna caste names,  but we never come across Chamar sweets or Bhangi pan shops, specifically because of the symbolic value associated with the cultural capital. Events such as this disturb the cultural meanings.”

Adding to the discussion, Chandana Chandragiri, another student at Ambedkar University, said, “Songs like Danger Chamar are a strong assertion of our rights and our identity.”

Riya, a student at Ambedkar University, said: “For the first time we felt that an event was our own.” Renu, another student of Ambedkar University, added, “This event focused on the contribution of Guru Ravidas andd Babashaheb to society and this made us to feel that there is space for lower community in the society as respectful for others too. we felt the space was for us too  today.”

It is important to add that the students of Ambedkar University had fought for a year to get Ginni Mahi to the University and perform. The fight for Dalit assertion in the campus has been going on for quite some time now.

In the last Ambedkar Memorial Lecture series, the organisers had ‘forgotten’ to call even one Dalit Scholar. This time too, there had been fights against Savarna domination; with one Savarna teacher, when asked about the decoration of the event, saying, “We cannot have the event decorated only with color Blue, as that colour has been appropriated by Dalit-Bahujans”. In fact, the Poster that had come up for the event did not have Chamar Pop as a genre of Ginni Mahi’s songs.