Komal Kothari

Komal Kothari (1929–2004)[1] was an Indian folklorist and ethnomusicologist.[2][3] Komal Kothari had devoted his life to investigation and documentation of folk traditions of western Rajasthan. Kothari received the honour of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan from the Government of India. Komal Kothari painstakingly worked to preserve the cultural memory and made numerous recordings of folk music. He studied Langa and Manganiyar communities of folk musicians of Thar desert. Komal Kothari was not only a scholar but also a man of action. He co-founded Rupayan Sansthan - Rajasthan Institute of Folklore, in 1960 in the village of Borunda. The institution houses a repository of recordings by Kothari and works to collect, preserve, and disseminate the oral traditions of Rajasthan. Kothari was co-editor of the journal Lok Sanskriti, a journal based on the theme of folk culture. Besides, Kothari arranged international performances of folk artists from Rajasthan in several counries. His monograph on Langas, a folk-musician caste in Rajasthan, was enlivened by an accompanying album of recordings of twelve folk songs sung by Langa artistes.[4]   His understanding of desert culture and its connections with ecology endeared him to the environmentalists. He planned a museum based on the ecology of the broom’, to show the technical use of specific types of desert grass for specific purposes. His vision was actualised in the form of Arna Jharna - The Thar Desert Museum of Rajasthan in Borunda, near Jodhpur.[5] Kothari was a scholar of patterns of culture and his expertise enriched both folklore studies and history.


Komal Kothari with Langa Musicians

Kothari's research resulted in his development of the study of a number of areas of folklore. In particular, he made contributions to the study of musical instruments, oral traditions and puppetry.[6] He was also a patron of Langa and Manganiyar folk music, the latter of which translates to 'beggars' and is currently used as a debasing term for Merasi.[7][8] He was the first to record them and helped shem out of their traditional regions.[1] To this end, he also founded the magazine 'Prerna'. Kothari was the chairman of Rupayan Sansthan founded by Chandi Dan Detha[4] and worked with Vijaydan Detha at Borunda village in Rajasthan, an institute that documents Rajasthani folk-lore, arts and music, and spent most of his career at the Rajasthan Sangeet Natak Academy.[9]

Books and Articles

Awards and honours

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A 1979 documentary film on his ethnomusicology work, and another titled Komal Da, on his life and works, are now archived at Columbia University Libraries.[6] Kothari’s work on the oral epics of Rajasthan further extended his argument of geographical connections of folk music. He posited that oral epics correspond to specific agricultural and occupational zones. Kothari had made a deeper inquiry of folk traditions to make insightful observations on poer structures and hegemony that informed the historians of Rajasthan significantly.[12] Kothari conceived and started his work for the Arna Jharna Museum in 2000 in the village of Moklawas, near Jodhpur. The museum space has been designed as a section of Thar desert and its native vegetation like different cacti, and agrarian produce like jowar, bajra, and makka. It has replicas of village architecture, a boastful collection of the region musical instruments, puppets, and pottery. “The museum boasts mainly of an extensive collection of brooms from Rajasthan, indicating entire galaxies of rituals and beliefs associated with them."[13]

Further reading

See also


  1. ^ a b The magical music of Manganiyars goes global Good news India, Accessed 1 June 2006.
  2. ^ 2000 Prince Claus Award Accessed 1 June 2006.
  3. ^ "Komal Kothari – The Folk Musician". Press Information Bureau Government of India. 22 April 2004.
  4. ^ a b "राजस्थानी बाल कहानियां : एक दृष्टि - दीनदयाल शर्मा". Dr. Mulla Adam Ali (in Hindi). Retrieved 2 February 2023. गांवों में साहित्य, कला और संस्कृति की चेतना के लिए विक्रम संवत् 2021 में जोधपुर जिले के गांव बोरूंदा में तत्कालीन सरपंच चंडीदान देथा की देखरेख में एक साहित्यिक संस्थान 'रूपायन संस्थान' का गठन किया गया। गांव में इस संस्थान ने छापाखाना लगाया। संस्थान की तरफ से 'वाणी' नाम से एक मासिक पत्र आरंभ किया गया। जिसमें सैकड़ों लोक कथाएं और अनेक उपन्यास प्रकाशित किए गए। फिर यही लोक कथाएं पुस्तक रूप में आई तो इतनी मांग हुई कि एक ही वर्ष में एक पुस्तक के तीन-तीन संस्करण प्रकाशित हो गए।
  5. ^ a b "The langas: a folk-musician caste of Rajasthan". INDIAN CULTURE. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  6. ^ a b Remembering Komal Korthari Columbia University, Accessed 1 June 2006.
  7. ^ Stephen Huyler, 25 September 2016.
  8. ^ "The Idea of Rajasthan: Explorations in Regional Identity (Volumes I&II Bound in One) by Karine Schomer, Joan L. Erdman, Deryck O. Lodrick, Lloyd I. Rudolph: New Soft cover (2001) | Books in my Basket". www.abebooks.com. Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  9. ^ Studio, Rajasthan (28 December 2020). "Komal Kothari – A Musical Maestro From Rajasthan". Rajasthan Studio. Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  10. ^ Neuman, Daniel M.; Chaudhuri, Shubha; Kothari, Komal (2006). Bards, ballads and boundaries : an ethnographic atlas of music traditions in West Rajasthan. The Archive of Contemporary Music. Calcutta; New York : Seagull. ISBN 978-1-905422-07-4.
  11. ^ "कोमल कोठारी - भारतकोश, ज्ञान का हिन्दी महासागर". bharatdiscovery.org. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  12. ^ Chaturvedi, Neekee (1 January 2021). "Historian of Cultural Memory of the Desert Folklorist Komal Kothari". Jijnasa.
  13. ^ "The Museum | Arnajharna". www.arnajharna.org. Retrieved 1 April 2023.