notes to introduction: the unsung sing
Vermilion (sind¯ur) is the auspicious orange and red pow-
der in a woman’s hair part that symbolizes her married
status. The groom’s ritual application of this powder in
the bride’s hair part marks the conclusion of the marriage
A Launda-nach (n¯ ac) is a male-only company of itinerant
singers, percussionists, and performers that entertains
rural audiences with skits, plays, dancing, and music.
Cross-dressing is a key feature of these performances as
men perform female roles.
In this nirgun song, Sakh¯ı (women’s female friend) could
just as well refer to a male worshipper who has assumed the
identity of one of Sita’s girlfriends, the persona adopted by
the Rasik branch of the Ramnandi sect to serve Ram and
Sita. Van der Veer writes that in an attempt to bring about
a radical transformation of their masculinity in the ritual
theatre of temple worship, Rasiks dress as women (Van der
Veer 1987, 691).
notes to chapter 1: the daily grind
Another example is the ropni songs. See chapter 2.
Vaughan (1987, 119) notes that in Malawi ‘‘the distinctive
feature of women’s songs and stories about the 1949 famine
is the emphasis they place on the role of marital relations in
shaping the pattern of su√ering. When asked about fam-