Rajasthan, India, is a state of diverse culture. From spectacular architecture to mouth-watering food, it has everything. A special aspect that often gets shadowed amidst this is jaadu (magic). If we turn back the pages of history, we come across the Jaadugars of Rajasthan. The community of Jaadugars (magicians) in Rajasthan is age-old and were once a magnificent part of the state.
With changing time and the emancipation of the modern era, trends have not been in the favour of the Jadugaar communities. Yet, through this article, we take you to witness the remininents of their glorious past.
Tracing the Story of Badodiya’s Magicians
Badodiya, in the city of Bundi, is locally known as the state’s magical village. The jaadugars in the village perform for the locals during a Magic festival.
The jaadugars follow a strict protocol. The local magicians vow to never share secrets or to perform outside the village. In fact, threats of ostracization were hurled at Champalal Suman when he attempted to spread his art. He is a young jaadugar from the village.
The magic produced in this village used to be extreme. Members of Badodiya still recall a time when magicians used to gulp snakes and scorpions like it is no big deal.
Today, the magic in the village is not so extreme. Elders in the village are morose over this lost art and blame social media for influencing the younger generation. They complain – the art is wearing off because the new generation chooses to order props and is lazy about training and stray away from the horrors of illusion and hypnotism.
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There are more than 60 different artist groups in the village. Perhaps the most impressive trick in the village is a group of jaadugars having balanced a motorcycle on a Rs. 200 currency note.
Though the secrets of their generationally produced magic remain locked within the village, visitors can now visit Badodiya to explore the colourful walls, motorcycles amusingly hanging from ropes, village locals dressed up in colourful costumes and intriguing masks along with performing artists.
Where is the Magician Community Today?
The community is now scattered in and out of Rajasthan. They come together at the Pushkar festival. Pushkar, a small town located by Ajmer, hosts a grand festival for all artist communities of their state. Snake charmers, camel decorators, magicians and dancers unite and make it a grand affair. According to the State’s reports, Pushkar’s population sees an inflow of more than 2,00,000 people during this time annually.
Madari Basti in Sanganer, Jaipur, showcases street art all year round. Passed down through generations, street magic is the livelihood of those residing here. From making a toy snake come to life, making dead pigeons fly and various coin tricks, you get to witness it all.
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Someone who deserves an honorary mention here is Aanchal Kumawat from Udaipur. From humble magic acts to adventures with fire, Aanchal does it all. She is also the recipient of a number of awards. Something unique about Aanchal is that she has travelled internationally to display her talent in China, South Korea and Mongolia.
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On a smaller scale, the Alankar Musical Group celebrates Rajasthani artists. The group makes magic events a jovial time for all with elements of mystery, amusement, gallery, illusion and challenge – all of which abbreviate to MAGIC! The group also includes new adaptations of traditional Rajasthani jaadu. These contemporary performances include card manipulation tricks, coin tricks and on the table magic. Click here to book.
New Delhi is currently the hub of Jaadugars of Rajasthan. Along with the Rajasthani puppeteers, acrobats, dancers and other performance groups, the magicians live at Kathputli Colony in the country’s capital.
While the culture of magic in Rajasthan shined brightly in recent history, it is now on a steep decline. The story of RJ Samrat Jaadugar is especially heart-wrenching. Once selling packed shows all over the country, this magician from Jaipur had to abandon his craft to become a vegetable seller due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Locals migrate to metropolitan cities for employment purposes which leaves behind the traditions. Families travel across the state to share their jaadu to this day – the jaadugars of Rajasthan are now hired to entertain tourists at hotels – for instance at the Chokhi Dhani Deluxe Resort – and forts. Once a magnanimous community, they are unfortunately now scarcely available for bookings at private events.
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