The Merasi woman, ”Lugai” is identified as a wife, mother, daughter, sibling,
musician and lower caste being. Her individuality is no one’s concern.
The Merasi Women’s Voices meetings that took place in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan,
India in 2008 and 2009 were groundbreaking. They were a gathering of women from
Jaisalmer and some of the surrounding villages. The brave women met, socialized, and
discussed pertinent issues collectively for the first time in their community’s history.
Their voices were heard, their concerns spoken, as their identities were unveiled.
The partnering nonprofits, NYC based Folk Arts Rajasthan (FAR) and Jaisalmer based,
Lok Kala Sagar Sansthan (LKSS) organized and facilitated these Women’s Voices
These portraits of veiled Merasi women were taken during these meetings. Each
mother, wife, musician, and caretaker extended herself to me as I “listened” with my
camera. Here you see them, as they are, women under the veil.
FAR and LKSS are working collaboratively to give the Merasi their voice.
Overwhelmingly, the women agreed that their children must be educated to create the
sustainable change they hope for. A new beginning will rise from the upheaval of their
traditional lives as untouchables Manganiyar (Beggars).