Different Beats: Being a Female Tabla Player

Mithu Tikadar is a Dalit and professional female tabla player who is breaking norms in a male-dominated field despite facing discrimination – even by her own family.

Mithu Tikadar is unusual in her choice of instrument: the tabla. As the tabla is traditionally seen as the domain of male practitioners, Mithu constantly encounters discrimination in her field. Even Mithu’s aunt told her that she was a disgrace to all women, but this made her more determined to follow her passion and took up tabla as a secondary school subject.

“My teachers told me they won’t take any responsibility for that. I had to do it on my own,” says Mithu who has come along way as a professional female tabla player despite the lack of help and support from her school teachers and the community. Today she’s economically self-sufficient and is the only Dalit woman to have cleared the nationwide test on musical instruments that makes her eligible to teach in colleges.

However, the road is still not an easy one for Mithu who continues to battle with patriarchal mores in her profession as a female tabla player. 

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