All of 17 and Ginni Mahi is already a sensation. The young voice of the Dalit community of Punjab is slowly spreading her wings across the nation. And if this is the pace of her growth, time isn’t far when Ginni Mahi will become synonymous with a unique way of social activism.
Ginni Mahi hails from the Jatavs community in Punjab and lives with her family in Jalandhar. However, her strong voice resonates far and wide. Today she leads a movement for the rights of the Dalit community and equality through her music. She sings hard hitting songs that connect well with the daily struggles of her community. All her tracks are dedicated to Saint Ravidas and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. “I belong to a middle-class family. I had heard a lot of stories about what happened to Dalits from our forefathers. I used to feel unusual that even such times existed. But now it has improved a lot. We get good facilities. We began with devotional songs because everyone wants to take the name of our gurus. So in my field also I began by taking the name of our gurus.”
In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Ginni said if it weren’t for her parents and family, she would not have reached this far alone. “My strength comes from my family, my parents. When it is about singing, I always take blessings from my grandmother before stepping out of my house. She gives me all the force and strength. The audience has given me so much love. I have reached this place with their blessings.”
In an age when going on hunger strikes and boycotting authorities has become the call of the day to lead any kind of movement, Ginni keeps it peaceful. She chose songs and music to give such a powerful message. “It was an attempt to remember our Gurus. I didn’t know that we’ll become so popular and people will accept me. Whatever I’ve learned so far, I only try not to hurt anyone. Everyone should be happy.”
Ginni is often referred as the new voice of ‘Dalit pop’ in the country. Her original name is Gurkanwal Bharti and she is a YouTube sensation with close to 1 lakh followers. Most of her songs are devotional in nature addressed to Guru Nanak Dev and singing the laurels of Dr. BR Ambedkar. She has also been active in spreading awareness about issues like female foeticide and female education.
“Education is very important today. Especially educating girls. The core message of Ambedkar was to educate and connect. Only when we are educated, we can communicate with the people and can fight our struggles. If we nurture that today, our nation will rise to extreme levels”, she said.
Ginni is in Delhi to perform at The Bridge Talk and support the issue of ‘gender equality’. The Bridge is a new initiative by The Caravan aimed at challenging the conventional thinking surrounding gender empowerment, and in turn, addressing the gap between theory and implementation. Is she excited? “I felt good to hear this word, that it’ll talk about gender empowerment. Like we’ve seen, there have been talks about women empowerment and men empowerment, but never about gender empowerment. It’ll talk about everything. If we speak about women, then men are left and vice-versa. And if it’s about both, then there is a separate section in the society like the third gender, they will be left behind. So this will include even them. So it’ll mean a universal empowerment.”
Ginni aspires to be a playback singer ten years down the line. She looks upto the legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, and wishes to have an evergreen voice like hers. She even looks up to Punjabi singers like Feroz Khan and Kaler Kanth. “In ten years, I see myself becoming a playback singer, attending big shows and people from the film industry are inviting me; I’m getting awards. I’ll try to sing songs from all genres, that the entire family can listen to sitting in the same room”.
She has a twinkle in her eyes, and a firm determination to make a different in the society through her voice!