NEW YORK CITY: The Manganiyar Seduction begins in almost complete darkness — light bulbs faintly illuminate 36 human-sized rectangular boxes on a large four-tier set. Then the sound of a khamacha, an Indian stringed instrument, breaks the silence. Slowly, lights come up on one of the boxes to reveal the musician sitting cross-legged, dressed in white with an orange turban.
“They have the Muslim saints and they worship Allah,” Abel says. “And then they also have their … Hindu goddesses. And they sing to both,” he says. “Like, there would not be any difference if they were to sing a Sufi Islam mystic song or if they were to sing a Hindu mystic song. It would be with the equal amount of devotion.”
Read more: Communal Harmony