Three days after she disappeared, the search is still on for singer Jerusha Rai. Her close community, most notably the Haatemalo Collective, has been actively organizing search parties to look for her based on leads from eyewitnesses and CCTV camera footage.
The situation is completely horrifying knowing that she could be in any state out there. She’s been said to have walked out without her phone or any personal items, and has left a ‘note’ at home as well.
Public attention on this ongoing issue, however, has been close to non-existent. Despite being an extremely talented musician, Rai’s music has never been the kind to appeal to the masses. Perhaps for this reason, it’s not hard to see reactions of painfully oblivious jokes on this whole matter. But Jerusha Rai has long been a valuable presence in different communities from music to indigenous rights activism. Simply put, it behooves all the rest of us who don’t know her, to understand what she truly stands for.
She’s a gifted musician
Jerusha Rai is a genuinely original musician within the Nepali musical scene. Her songs have a deeply confessional quality to them that just draws you in. Throughout her musical journey, she has demonstrated an experimental spirit that has resulted in a great variety of styles across her work — from the soothing indie melodies of Oblivion to the rhythmic sincerity of Barud.
Her work is extremely important to Nepal’s folk music repertoire
Rai has been one of the major creative voices powering Nepal’s folk musical movement. From a young age, Nepalis are ingratiated into a sense of pride related to the country’s ancient culture. But it is common knowledge that not nearly enough is being done to preserve this culture — especially when it comes to minority and indigenous communities. Bands such as Night and Kutumba have been a valuable movement by private citizens on this part, preserving Nepal’s true musical heritage through their own fusion works.
The works of Jerusha Rai are in the same vein, and hold their own against the works of the genre’s pioneers. Her work appears even more important given the fact that she takes the inspiration from music of her own indigenous community, which is still a rarity in this small musical sub-sector. She would regularly post videos of her experimentations with Nepali folk instruments too, with the ultimate aim of integrating them more generously in her own compositions.
Most importantly, she is one of those rare artists who worked through an actual vision — to integrate indigenous values to her music and live performances, and to create a safer musical community for female artistes.
She is deeply invested in indigenous issues
Rai is also an active participant in indigenous/minority activism spaces, most notably alongside Haatemalo Collective. Evidence of her passion for indigenous issues is easily found on her social media profiles, where she regularly shares information about discussions on indigenous issues and fundraisers. Her profile is also full of news and stories that escape mainstream attention — she is continually seeking to bring to the fore present-day cases of oppression faced by indigenous and minority communities.
Jerusha Rai was last seen around the Jalbinayak, Chobar area on September 23. She’s been known to visit places of bhajans and religious activity during past psychological episodes. So if you’re in such areas, or any of the areas listed below, please do keep a lookout. And do call the numbers in the post below if you see her.