Cheema Ram is a young folk musician from a small hamlet called ‘Saroope ka Talla’ in Chohtan district, Rajasthan. It is merely a couple of kilometers away from the Pakistan border. His father is a poet, and writes about man and nature’s wonders. Cheema Ram is just 25 years old, but even at this young age, he has great interest in devotional and spiritual music, and plays tandoora. When he used to go to ‘Satsanga’ with his family and friends as a child, he became curious about the hymns and their meaning and effect in one’s life. This stirred his interest in this genre of music, and he started learning initially from cassette tapes of famous bhajans. Then he self-trained himself by practicing rigorously and taking guidance from other artists who are competent in this genre. He has been performing with his group professionally since the past eight years. Cheema Ram hails from the Meghwal community which is considered as one of the most distinguished and competent communities who are into devotional music. The ‘Rikhiya’ tradition of presenting bhajans at ‘Satsanga’ has been passed on through generations in the Meghwal community. Cheema Ram’s parents always support and motivate him in his pursuit of becoming an established bhajan artist. He has three children, who also learn music from him and his group. His eldest child is Neeraj who is 5 years old, then there is Kuldeep and a 2 year old girl Kumud. Cheema Ram finds his bhajans full of peace and knowledge, and believes that the soul can attain salvation with the power of bhajans.
Cheema Ram’s group has three others members: Asandas, Cheta Ram and Gunesha Ram. All of them are from the same kin. They have been performing together for quite a long time, and have developed a mutual bond of trust amongst themselves, which is of very important value for a team, so that members stick with each other through thick and thin. They play tandoora, khartaal, harmonium and dholak while singing bhajans in ‘Satsanga’. Their group secured first position amongst 12 groups in state level ‘Bhajan pratiyogita’, held in Chohtan tehsil, Barmer. Their favourite bhajan they perform in every ‘Satsanga’ and ‘Jaagran’ is ‘gaadhi satguru ke naam, virla sant chadhel’. This bhajan is about ‘Guru’ and his ‘Shishya’, and it illustrates that one who chants the name of God, finds purpose in life. Those who worship God will be enlightened. Their ‘jamma’ or ‘pyaala’ as they call ‘Jaagran’ starts around 7pm and goes on till dawn of the next morning. Their bhajans are about Goddess Jagdamba, Shakti maa, Saint Kabir, and Meerabai, and are in ‘Saarang’ and ‘Malhaar’ raag. They have performed in Barmer, Jodhpur and Bikaner. They all feel that music heals the soul and leads to enlightenment. With all this determination and knowledge, it is disappointing that due to meager payments for shows, their financial condition is not stable and they have to take up farming as a backup option. Sometimes, the situation has been so bad that they have worked as laborers in the cement industry. It is highly disappointing for a group of deserving artists to have to work like this. Even after all these hardships, all of them are optimistic and have a ray of hope because they have faith in their music. They wish to succeed in the field of music and perform in other states and countries.