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I Am Not A Nachaniya, But A Professional Ghoomar Dancer – Sonika Rawat

I was 12 when my father expired. My mother used to stay with her in-laws and do household work. She was a widow who was as good as a housemaid. Some people in Rajasthan are still not mentally developed. They still think that women are good when they are inside the house. The moment they step their foot outside, they are nothing but rebels or someone who does not respect elders. I belong to Sirohi district Rajasthan. My mother was from an underprivileged background, married to an illiterate businessman. My uncle and grandmother used to discourage my studies forcing me to concentrate on household work.

Since my mother was from the Banjara community performing dance to guests at different places in Jaisalmer, she knew what financial independence is! But soon after her marriage everything was taken care by my father. No more she was a dancer. But since dance was very dear to my mom she taught me Ghoomar (Rajasthani Folk Dance) while I was a kid. With time, I developed a liking for this art form, though my grandparents always discouraged me and my mother. Post my father’s tragic death, there was an instance where me and my mother wanted some moneyghoomer cover as for every single penny we need to ask our grandparents. We often loved to have ice-cream from the local vendor but we always faced a denial just because my grandparents didn’t allow us out! Reason? There were no male accompanying us. I never had any friends, never spoke to people, was restricted to talk and laugh and the list is endless.

The icecream was just nothing. They used to even discourage us to visit doctors as they feel like medicines are expensive and home remedies are the only source to get well. But personally these things never got into my brain. We had many disagreements within the family. Since my mother was a widow she was restricted to celebrate, wear new clothes, eat only staple food, not allowed in an auspicious occasions and what not. As I grew up, I felt depressed and suffocated. Soon my mother decided to leave the in-laws along with me after a huge fight with all the probable right and wrongs of the society.

My maternal family just got me amazed with the reality which I never saw in my paternal side. My nana ji  is an amazing person with all the possible talents. They are all broad minded, lively and colorful spirits by nature. At the age of 13 with the help of my aunt and mother I took the training of Ghoomer and later also accompanied them for different shows at different places in Rajasthan as a dancer. With time and practice I mastered the skills of a flawless Ghoomer dance.

My grandparents soon came to take me away from my maternal place as they came to know that I have lately joined my mother as a side dancer for the financial independence. They forcefully wanted me to go and stay with them and have a reputed life being from the business background, where I had no stand in the house at all. Development was just for the males of the family. Females were just nothing but maids. I never wanted to go with my grandparents.

For my grandparents female dancers did not have any respect as they danced in front of males to please them. Their mentality was degraded. They used to call my mom as a NACHANIYA and made her feel guilty to train me the same. I was rather always proud to be her daughter and I am forever. For my mother and her family dance was not just the income source but they used to consider it as an art as it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. They used to respect women and were broad minded as well.

Soon my nanaji took his daughter’s stand and asked her in-laws to stop interfering in her life. They asked them to cut all the relations with me and my mom’s family and stop bothering us.

Today, it’s been more than seven years I have been practicing Ghoomer professionally in different parts of India. I perform for elite crowd of luxurious hotels and resorts. I enjoy my job and the best part is, I am financially independent and lately have started to educate myself from a distant educational program. Throughout my life will never give up to dance. I am proud to be born as a woman dancer with all the grace and dignity.

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