They dress in sarees, groove to rocking beats and sing songs with meaningful lyrics that convey a social message.
The 'Meri Zindagi' music band from Lucknow that comprises five homemakers, is setting the stage on fire.
India's first all-female music band has, so far, performed in 50 cities in more than 550 concerts.
Started in 2010 with modest resources by Dr Jaya Tiwari, the band gained significance because of its songs where the emphasis is more on lyrics than on rhythm.
"Despite popular demand and lucrative money, we do not perform Bollywood songs. We only perform the songs that we write and compose. Social change and not money has been our motivation. We would never promote songs with lyrics that deride or sexualise women," said Tiwari.
Instead of choosing quick money by agreeing to perform Bollywood songs, all members of the band juggle their passion for music and social change with a regular job for financial stability.
Another striking feature about the band, as mentioned earlier, is that they only perform in saris.
"We do not want to dress in flashy clothes and come across to our audience as distant personalities. On the contrary, we want to become the voice of those who have been suppressed, wronged, or just neglected. When we perform in sarees, regular homemakers identify with us," said Tiwari.
Jaya Tiwari recalls, "It started with three women and one guitar in 2010. We used kitchen utensils as music instruments during our initial days. We would think of the lyrics and the rhythm of our songs while doing household chores."
For raising awareness towards social issues, the band has received several awards from government, social, and private organisations.
The band is credited with creating jingles for 1090 Women Power Helpline, Women Honour Cell, and a song for Mahila Bal Kalyan Vibhag which was launched by the chief minister himself.
Recently, the band performed for the Indian Army in Kashmir.
"I remember how hard it would be for us to find a place and time for jamming sessions. Sometimes, it still is. We could not do it in our houses as others would get disturbed. So, a lot of times, we jam together in public parks," said Tiwari.
Tiwari added, "Our music is a fusion of Indian and Western. While our band may use rap music to highlight a cause, we also take inspiration from Uttar Pradesh folk music. Not all our songs highlight women's issues. We also sing about the water crisis, pollution, and tobacco usage, among others. I also want to highlight here that just because our band raises women's issues, it does not mean that we are 'anti-men' in any way."
Niharika Dubey, who plays synthesizer for the band, said, "After every concert, we feel like warriors fighting against social evils. Our instruments are our weapons. Our band gives a platform to women who can sing or play an instrument and are passionate about bringing a social change. I want to highlight the mission of our band through one of our songs -- hum hi hain shakti, hum hi tarakki, humein garv hai, hum beti hain (we are the power, we are progress, we are proud to be daughters)."
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