The Singing Genealogists of Karnataka

Did you ever consider setting your family tree to music? How about musically reciting the members of the family tree for the past 9 centuries? And then doing that for multiple families?

That is what Helavas (professional genealogists) do in in ten districts of Karnataka, India.

An article by Amoolya Rajappa in TheWire.in web site describes the lives of the Helavaru community, a unique semi-nomadic tribe credited to have maintained documents containing the genealogy of several families in ten districts of Karnataka:

“It is believed that Helavas started practicing from the days of Basavanna, a 12th-century social reformer who rebelled against caste hierarchy and gender discrimination. Ever since they have carried on the practice of visiting households and narrating ancestral bloodlines in a lyrical fashion.”

Also, “Helavas wrap their archival records in a fluorescent pink shawl and carry them over their shoulders during their journeys.”

It seems the Helavas do more than simply recite genealogies to the various families. The article says that one genealogist was summoned to testify in court “twice in the last two decades. On both occasions, judges questioned him about ancestral descents of families involved in property disputes. Till date, the genealogical records maintained by Helavas are accepted as valid proof in cases pertaining to family feuds.”

You can find this interesting article at: https://thewire.in/society/the-singing-genealogists-of-karnataka.

One Comment

Fascinating!

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