Locusts unleash new lifeline for ‘bandwallahs’

Lucknow: Every cloud has a silver lining, and this holds true for a particular community these days with locusts swarms descending like plague across states. The ‘bandwallahs’ in several districts of Uttar Pradesh have truly turned adversity into opportunity. Completely out of work since the lockdown began in March with most weddings and ceremonies cancelled they now are in hot demand to shoo the swarms away.

The wedding season, too, did not bring any work because the marriages were held on an extremely low key with limited guests and no room for singing and dancing.

These out-of-work bandwallahs have found a new job for themselves now. They are contacting farmers and taking up the job to drive away locusts by playing loud music.

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Gopi, a member of the Golden Brass Band in Kanpur, said: “The farmers are booking us to drive away locusts. We are getting paid anything between Rs 7,000 to 12,000 per night. We stay in the village where we get the booking and as soon as locusts are seen in the vicinity, we start playing loud music and the swarm goes away.”

He said that farmers find hiring a band party more economical than beating utensils to create a din.

A farmer in Unnao district, Gajendra Singh, said that beating a utensil does not create music that is loud enough to scare away locusts.

“We all contribute money and hire a band party. The locusts are driven away within half an hour because their music is rather loud,” he said.

Prayagraj, which has faced a number of locusts attacks on the outskirts of the district, is also hiring band parties.

“It is simpler and more effective because the music is louder,” said Guddu, a local resident of Pari village.

Mahesh Kumar of Soni Brass Band said: “Though the income is not satisfactory but it is a major reprieve in these times when we have been without business for almost four months now. The only thing is that we have to wait for hours for the locusts to arrive so that we can start playing the music. In a marriage, we have a fixed two-hour period during which we play,” he said.

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