Uttarakhand’s all-women band breaking glass ceiling

- March 18, 2024
| By : Idrees Bukhtiyar |

Swati Singh took up music after switching careers, and created an All-Women band ‘Womeniya’ against all odds

PERFORMERS: Members of the 'Womeniya', band perform at the Women’s Day festival organised by the Delhi government

Swati Singh, a 40-year-old woman, from Dehradun in Uttarakhand has broken all taboos and formed her own all-women music band while inspiring other women to look for a career. 

She left her lucrative government job in 2008 to shift to Dehradun.  

“I shifted to Dehradun in 2009 to work in a corporate company. But that was not something I wanted to do. My ultimate journey was music,” she highlighted.

Swati, along with three other women from Dehradun, namely Shakumbhari (48), Shrividya (18) and Shubhranshi (28) decided to set up their music band called ‘Womeniya Band’ in 2016.

Patriot spoke to Swati and her team who were in Delhi recently to perform at an International Women’s Day celebration event.

 “When I shifted to Dehradun, I opened my music academy — Saptak Music Academy and there I came across three interesting people who were very passionate about music. I taught them music for some time and then we decided to set up our own women’s band,” says Swati, the lead vocalist and guitarist in the band. 

Swati says that her entire family is into government services. 

“I am the only one in the family who has chosen a different career. Though taking this decision was very tough, somehow I managed it,” she says.

Talking about her music journey of past years, she says that it has not been an easy task for her. 

“Initially, when we formed the band, it was tough to get offers. We used to do concerts free of cost as we had to make a mark in the music industry,” says Swati, who was brought up in Uttar Pradesh.

“Now, times have changed. We are getting a good number of offers and performing across India. We have performed in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and other places,” she says.

The band sings different genres of music during their live performances. “We sing Bollywood numbers, Sufi and more importantly we are known for self-composing. We created a song Ae Khuda Tu Gum Hai Khan, a tribute to all rape victims and O Womeniya for women empowerment. One of our new songs Roshni got featured in Red FM in Dehradun recently,” she says.

Swati believes that marriage is a big challenge in a woman’s life and it changes everything. “In most of the cases you are told to sit at home and take care of the family which is unfair,” she says. 

She says that the aim of establishing her music band was to give a clear message of gender equality. 

“It is a loud and clear message that women deserve equal rights as men. Our band is breaking a stereotypical narrative that is on in our country that women can’t do anything and they are only for household chores. But that’s not the case. Our band is giving hope and inspiration to many,” says Swati before adding, “Initially, when we started the band, we faced a lot of criticism from people as they used to say that this band is not going to work and music is not for women. But now I am sure they would be in dilemma.”

Swati says that her priority remains safety. “We only take up government projects or those corporate projects that look safe to us,” she says.  

Shakumbhari, a bass guitarist with the team says, “Ten years ago, I had gone to Swati’s music academy to help my daughter to learn music. But Swati was impressed by both of us and told us that we would start a women’s band together.

“I had an interest in music since the beginning but never got a chance to explore it. But Swati and her team have given us wings to fly. Music is bread and butter for us and we don’t have any other source of income,” says Shakumbhari who left her cosmetics business for music.

 Shakumbhari’s daughter Shrividya is working as a drummer in the team. 

“It is a small team. We hope more like-minded women will connect with us to break the taboos related to our community,” says Shrividya who is studying in BA second year.

“Women are not only born for feeding the children or looking after household chores only. They also have dreams to fulfil. Let’s have a positive vision towards the rights of the women,” says Shubhranshi, who works as a keyboardist in the band.