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Millennium Post

Notes of despair: Wedding band owners and musicians on verge of penury

New Delhi: The music has gone out of their lives, quite literally, and the band of men who made their living drumming up tunes for parties, wedding processions and sometimes funerals too are on the verge of penury, scrambling for every rupee they can manage.

Almost six months into the pandemic, those in the business of weddings bands have gone bust. With celebrations restricted to just a few people in the era of social distancing and no bookings, some like Khurshid Siddiqui are selling old clothes and others like Mohammad Ali are selling off the accoutrements of the trade the buggy, lights and even the mare.

Drummer Khurshid Siddiqui who ran the band business' from his ancestral shop in east Delhi's Laxmi Nagar Market said there hasn't been a single booking in months, not from weddings, celebrations such as births and not even the odd funeral of an old person they sometimes played for.

The 40-year-old said he has put his shop on rent for Rs 10,000 and is reduced to selling old clothes on the roadside.

All our old bookings were cancelled due to which even the little money that was left with us had to be returned, Siddiqui said.

I have completely stopped the work that had carried on for generations in my family. I have sent some of the items to my village, sold some and am selling clothes, he added.

Mohammed Ali, who owned the Great Band' close by, spent a hefty Rs 4.5 lakh in January to buy a buggy, lights and a mare, all necessary for a big fat Indian wedding that is incomplete without band, bajaa and baraat'.

The mare, he said, cost Rs 2.5 lakh and he is now ready to sell it for just Rs 50,000 or rent it out for Rs 500 a day.

The buggy is getting damaged in the rain. There is trouble from all sides. The coronavirus has devastated us. And the government is also ignoring us, the 40-year-old said.

The signs of the desperate times are visible in the ribs jutting out of the mare standing in a corner. Part of the buggy lies on a garbage laden road with children playing inside it.

Some kilometres away near the Loni border, trumpet player NaviJaan echoes the despair.

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