Jeevan develops art and media projects with a focus on social and environmental renewal. With our funding, they produced India’s first cd-collection featuring songs from the Hijra (transgender) community called Songs of the Caravan.
Although transgenders have great importance in religious and mythological texts, in today’s Indian society they still face a great deal of exclusion. Only recently, with rising demands from various groups and constant pressure from the community itself, there is an effort to recognize their existence and improve their position.
According to Anubhav Gupta, the founder of the Jeevan Trust, a lot of transgenders in India come to people’s houses to sing and dance during the festival time, or weddings or after the birth of a child. The money they earn with this is the sole source of income for many of them, apart from sex work or begging.
Gupta: “I wanted to bring out the talents of the Hijra community other than the way it’s being used by Bollywood cinema for instance. In that genre transgenders are portrayed as comical and hilarious characters, which is quite one dimensional. The idea behind Jeevan is to create media for any community that has been marginalized by the mainstream media as well as society. So that’s why this project came together: traditional songs from different regions in India performed by hijras from the transgender community. To let them make a statement, not only as an artist, but also to show that music has no gender.”
The cd features nine songs and includes a booklet which contains legends, photographs, lyrics and facts. It has been created in close cooperation with the Hijras to help raise awareness about their community and art.
Songs of the Caravan in the press: