Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Third Series)

Research Article

The Kāmaḍ of Rajasthan — Priests of a Forgotten Tradition

Dominique-Sila Khan

In Rajasthan, one of the north-western states of India, whoever has heard of the Kāmaḍ (or Kāmaḍiyā) would define them as wandering minstrels or jugglers, singing hymns in praise of Bābā Rāmdeo, a famous saint from Mārwāṛ, whose footprints they worship. Most people could not say much more about this community of religious singers who, since Independence, have been listed among the “scheduled castes”. In any case, everybody seems to be aware of their connection with Rāmdeo, a famous folk deity, also popular in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, now venerated by devotees of all castes and creeds, but mostly by Hindus, as an avatār of Vishnu-Krishna.