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Rajasthan

Mushtaq Khan and Group

Habib Khan hails from the Mirari tribe that resides in Chelak village in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. Their tribe is a part of the Manganiyar community of the state which had been quite popular since the time of Rajput rulers who have protected them and become their patrons over the historic years during the medieval times. This group specifically considers the Bhati family as their patrons and has been providing them with their musical flair for many years.

 

Let there be no noise made, my gentle friends;

Unless some dull and favourable hand

Will whisper music to my weary spirit.

 

As much as Jaisalmer is filled with the golden sand, it’s also filled with traditional folk melodies, which echo stories of generations, imbibed with these melodies.

Habib Khan’s family has been into music since generations, and he, himself has been learning music ever since he remembers. The eyes of this 35-year-old singer from the Manganiyar community of Rajasthan light up as he starts speaking about his music with all the passion.

 

The group also has 5 other members, and all of them are related to each other. Basically, their whole bloodline is musical. Habib Khan was brought up in a musical environment and has been singing these folk songs since his childhood.

 

Like most of the Manganiyaars, this group songs also has various range of themes like marriage, love, separation, childbirth and the special occasions in a family. Various families in Jaisalmer, have been their patrons for ages, and their economy is dependent on music. Their musical groups are called to perform on these occasions, and this group has performed at various destinations in India and Habib Khan has also travelled and lived in Washington, California and New York for workshops. He also collaborates with other musical groups from time to time.

 

September to February is the peak season when most of the occasions like marriage take place, and when they get their most business. Habib Khan has learned music from his father and his children are also being trained in music currently. The main instruments used by his group are Khamaicha, Dholak, Harmonium, Morchang, Khadtaal, and Algoza. The main recurring raagas in their songs being Shubh, Kalyan and Bhairav. Like other Manganiyaars, they also believe that traditionally, and as per mythology, there were 6 main raagas, and each raga has 5 wives, making it a total of 36 raagas, which forms the base of their classical music vocabulary. While most raagas are meant to be sung at a particular time, as per the time-theory of music, Raag Bhairavi is considered to be “Sada-suhaagan” (literal meaning, forever married). He considers bhairavi to be one of the most important raags, which can be sung at any time and any occasion.

 

 

These ragas used by Habib Khan also hints of influences from Guru Granth Sahib, According to the Guru Granth the first raga created by the Maker was Bhairav, and raga Bhairav had five raginis of which only the first, raga Bhairavi is known today and performed. The folk songs of Rajasthan have maintained the elements of Indian classical music despite the fact that they are freely composed and sung, knowing no rigid rules. At times, their audience also demands popular songs, which have been imbibed into Bollywood, and they are more than happy to oblige since they consider that music is essential for enjoyment. When asked about his future plans, Habib khan says that he wants his children and the upcoming generations to carry forward this musical tradition while keeping their formal education in a healthy balance.

 

Habib Khan’s music is mesmerizing and his deep, baritone voice keeps the mood of the music alive. They combine their love for music and the skill for the same to make musical masterpieces, and timeless harmonies. Interestingly, the lyrics to these songs are quite simple, yet they are capable of evoking heartfelt human emotions.

 

Nowadays, in order to keep the musical tradition alive, is difficult, since many songs are lost with time, owing to the influx of popular music, therefore recognition of these artists is essential as they form the part of an intangible heritage of Rajasthan. A culture to be nourished, enhanced and shared. Poetic and lyrical melodies echo in this never-ending Thar, and its every sand grain.

 

They focus on Rajasthani folk music and make songs dedicated to various auspicious occasions for the royal family. Using their creativity for writing lyrics and using folk melodies in order to convey their messages, they sing about weddings, birth, and death ceremonies for these families as well as their whole community. Along with Satar Khan, Bhutte Khan, Salim Khan’s melodious music and Devu Khan’s vocal ability, they have a group that has mastered all the traditional Rajasthani musical instruments like Dholak, Khartal, and Harmonium. 

 

Their knowledge in the theory of Indian classical music such as different ragas and talas separates them from other folk groups as communities of the country. Habib Khan’s group, in particular, pays a certain amount preference to the Kalyan raga which is usually played at dusk. They have performed in various Indian cities but found performing in Mumbai the most exciting and rewarding.

 

They come from humble backgrounds but have a vigorous desire to create and perform their art not just to make a living but contribute towards their community’s musical culture. They have come together form similar walks of life and different age groups to form a clique in order to showcase their skills and abilities to promote the culture of Rajasthan and set it on a path of prosperity.

The Roots Music Group

Habib Khan hails from the Mirari tribe that resides in Chelak village in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. Their tribe is a part of the Manganiyar community of the state which had been quite popular since the time of Rajput rulers who have protected them and become their patrons over the historic years during the medieval times. This group specifically considers the Bhati family as their patrons and has been providing them with their musical flair for many years.

 

Let there be no noise made, my gentle friends;

Unless some dull and favourable hand

Will whisper music to my weary spirit.

 

As much as Jaisalmer is filled with the golden sand, it’s also filled with traditional folk melodies, which echo stories of generations, imbibed with these melodies.

Habib Khan’s family has been into music since generations, and he, himself has been learning music ever since he remembers. The eyes of this 35-year-old singer from the Manganiyar community of Rajasthan light up as he starts speaking about his music with all the passion.

 

The group also has 5 other members, and all of them are related to each other. Basically, their whole bloodline is musical. Habib Khan was brought up in a musical environment and has been singing these folk songs since his childhood.

 

Like most of the Manganiyaars, this group songs also has various range of themes like marriage, love, separation, childbirth and the special occasions in a family. Various families in Jaisalmer, have been their patrons for ages, and their economy is dependent on music. Their musical groups are called to perform on these occasions, and this group has performed at various destinations in India and Habib Khan has also travelled and lived in Washington, California and New York for workshops. He also collaborates with other musical groups from time to time.

 

September to February is the peak season when most of the occasions like marriage take place, and when they get their most business. Habib Khan has learned music from his father and his children are also being trained in music currently. The main instruments used by his group are Khamaicha, Dholak, Harmonium, Morchang, Khadtaal, and Algoza. The main recurring raagas in their songs being Shubh, Kalyan and Bhairav. Like other Manganiyaars, they also believe that traditionally, and as per mythology, there were 6 main raagas, and each raga has 5 wives, making it a total of 36 raagas, which forms the base of their classical music vocabulary. While most raagas are meant to be sung at a particular time, as per the time-theory of music, Raag Bhairavi is considered to be “Sada-suhaagan” (literal meaning, forever married). He considers bhairavi to be one of the most important raags, which can be sung at any time and any occasion.

 

 

These ragas used by Habib Khan also hints of influences from Guru Granth Sahib, According to the Guru Granth the first raga created by the Maker was Bhairav, and raga Bhairav had five raginis of which only the first, raga Bhairavi is known today and performed. The folk songs of Rajasthan have maintained the elements of Indian classical music despite the fact that they are freely composed and sung, knowing no rigid rules. At times, their audience also demands popular songs, which have been imbibed into Bollywood, and they are more than happy to oblige since they consider that music is essential for enjoyment. When asked about his future plans, Habib khan says that he wants his children and the upcoming generations to carry forward this musical tradition while keeping their formal education in a healthy balance.

 

Habib Khan’s music is mesmerizing and his deep, baritone voice keeps the mood of the music alive. They combine their love for music and the skill for the same to make musical masterpieces, and timeless harmonies. Interestingly, the lyrics to these songs are quite simple, yet they are capable of evoking heartfelt human emotions.

 

Nowadays, in order to keep the musical tradition alive, is difficult, since many songs are lost with time, owing to the influx of popular music, therefore recognition of these artists is essential as they form the part of an intangible heritage of Rajasthan. A culture to be nourished, enhanced and shared. Poetic and lyrical melodies echo in this never-ending Thar, and its every sand grain.

 

They focus on Rajasthani folk music and make songs dedicated to various auspicious occasions for the royal family. Using their creativity for writing lyrics and using folk melodies in order to convey their messages, they sing about weddings, birth, and death ceremonies for these families as well as their whole community. Along with Satar Khan, Bhutte Khan, Salim Khan’s melodious music and Devu Khan’s vocal ability, they have a group that has mastered all the traditional Rajasthani musical instruments like Dholak, Khartal, and Harmonium. 

 

Their knowledge in the theory of Indian classical music such as different ragas and talas separates them from other folk groups as communities of the country. Habib Khan’s group, in particular, pays a certain amount preference to the Kalyan raga which is usually played at dusk. They have performed in various Indian cities but found performing in Mumbai the most exciting and rewarding.

 

They come from humble backgrounds but have a vigorous desire to create and perform their art not just to make a living but contribute towards their community’s musical culture. They have come together form similar walks of life and different age groups to form a clique in order to showcase their skills and abilities to promote the culture of Rajasthan and set it on a path of prosperity.

Chhote Khan and Group

Drenched in the Sun of Jaisalmer’s golden city Chote Khan and his group sat down with their instruments to play the tunes of their music. For them, music is their lifeline. The group leader Chote Khan is a modest person who believes in hard work and disciplined life. He is someone who had been acquainted with music since he was a four-year-old kid. He says that he never sat down with anyone particularly to learn music, whatever he knows till date is all because of his father and brother who used to sing every day.

 

Talking about the music and traditional folk, he says that he sings songs in all kinds of Ragas like Khamaj, Bhairavi, Malhaar etc. Amongst these, his favourite is Khamaj in which he sings all the happy occasion songs. Chote says that they sing all kind of songs, for all the occasions they have traditional folk songs, right from birth to death. They are known for singing songs for all the auspicious occasions like childbirth, marriage, housewarming, etc. Since they are considered auspicious by their royal patronage, they are being called before every such occasion. They tell with pride that no happy occasion starts without their presence and performance.

 

When asked about the group’s future, Chote thinks of his kids and says with a smile, “ bachche hain bhavishya, inhe hi seekha padha rahe hain ab to sab inke haath mein hain, barbaad karein ya abaad karein (these children are the future of our traditional heritage and we are doing our duty by keeping it alive through teaching these children, now everything is in their hands to save or to destroy.).” He told that the children in his family have very much keen interest in their traditional folk music but he makes sure that they are also studying with sincerity. He recalls his time of life when he was a child and left his studies for the sake of focusing on only music. He feels that he should have completed his studies at least till class 10th, then he wouldn’t have to face unpleasant situations in his life and thus he will put in all the efforts to make his literate. 

 

Chote Khan and his group’s music speak for themselves. They then sit together to perform, binds the atmosphere with a magical aura that mesmerizes the audience. The group sings all kind of songs, especially the one which are original authentic folk songs. The group is known for singing songs which are very rare to be heard and thus there are few songs that only they sing and no one knows such songs. The group is one such group of Rajasthan Manganiyaar community that has a treasure of age-old traditional folklore. They are trying to pass on this traditional heritage to their next generation and have all their faith in them that they shall carry forward with them to give to their next generation.

 

This group is all about passing on the fire of traditional heritage from one generation to another, which has actually become an exercise drill to make it survive anyhow. The new generation in their group is also very serious when it comes to learning and the old traditional folk songs. They say that it is easier for them to learn them with their studies as they have interest in both of them. They, just like their elders have dreams of taking forward the legacy of their forefathers to a wider audience and global platform. They want the world to know Rajasthan because of them and want to become an epitome of the great music of Rajasthan in the world.

 

The seasoned artists in the group are responsible for the teaching and guidance of the younger artists present in the group. The group sings mostly authentic original songs of their traditional heritage which has been passed on from their forefathers to them which each generation. The group performs at various occasions like childbirth, wedding, house warming, etc. at their patronages’ houses. The group earns their living out of the live performances they give at various different places. Apart from the music they literally don’t have any means through which they can earn. 

These group of artists don’t dream of going to Bollywood and collecting fame, rather they and the world to know Rajasthan and their singing is known by their music. They want to make their country proud and carry forward their legacy from one generation to another. For them all they know is music and they can never get apart from it and thus for them it is not just music it is their way of living their lives.

Amrat Khan and Group

Coming from the Manganiyar community of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, Amrat Khan and his group of musicians belong to the Merari Gharana. The songs they sing are mostly about the storytelling of events that take place in royal Rajput families residing in the region. Their spectrum of knowledge in classical music comes from learning through practical experience and observation and they sing all the ragas like the Sourath raga, Shoob, Bhairavi, and Bilawal. 

 

Amrat Khan’s breathtaking vocals and a dynamic display of Harmonics played on the Harmonium along with the percussions of Khartal provided by Sarup Khan as well as the beats of the dholak by Sawan Khan are a sight to watch and make for a brilliant sounding melodious musical performance every time they get the opportunity they play. Their aim is to showcase their music in various countries of the world and spread awareness as to the presence of their art form in the musical community. They want to make a difference to the living of the families of Manganiyar community as their culture prospers through the means of folk melodies composed by them.

 

Words are less to describe the sheer poetry that is Sufism and the music which echoes as far as the sand dunes of Sam or Khuri or the ramparts of the majestic fort. Amrat Khan fondly likes to be known as a Sufi Singer and says that the colour white is symbolic of Sufism, as it is the colour of purity and the ‘ibaadat’ of Allah. Sufism is a phenomenon of mysticism, and Amrat Khan’s songs are truly mystic in nature. As per Amrat Khan, Sufism is his family tradition, and music is a divine worship.

Amrat  Khan’s family has been into Sufi musical tradition since ages, and their songs comprise of songs which are a beautiful amalgamation of Hindu and Islamic traditions. Amrat Khan studied till standard 5th, and then took to music because of financial reasons. He comes from a rural area, prone to drought and describes his childhood as difficult due to the lack of basic facilities in his village. Most of Amrat     Khan’s “Jajmaan” i.e. patrons are Muslims and royal families, and almost everyone in his family is trained in Sufi genre of music. Amrat Khan’s describes his family tradition as Sufi and says that Sufism is a divine medium of reaching Allah directly.

 

Amrat Khan’s powerful voice echoes in Nachana Haveli, as he loses himself in trance. He has performed all over India and in over 9 countries abroad including London, Turkey, Dubai and Iran. Apart from these, Amrat has also performed in Pakistan in 2006. Amrat     Khan dreams of an ambitious future for the coming generations and wants his children and grandchildren to be educated. Amrat also teaches music to as many as 30 people who learn from him and is now their ‘Ustaad’. (master or teacher).

 

Bulle Shah is Amrat Khan’s favourite poet and he uses Bulle Shah’s poetry in his songs quite often.

Charkha pukaare ruh hi ruh

Ruh pukaare tu hi tu

Aala ilm padheya nahi

Bulla baneya to kya hua?

 

A charkha, is a wooden instrument used to spin thread from cotton. An intentional pun is used here as “ruh” means cotton as well as “spirit”, in Hindustani language. A Charkha spins the thread, but the spirit calls the name of Allah. So, it doesn’t matter if I am famous as Bulle Shah unless I have the ‘ilm’ or the desire to worship Allah. (Bulle Shah addresses himself as he leaves his signature in this composition).

Amrat Khan wants to pursue music as long as possible and is financially dependent on music. When asked about the traditional costume which he wears, and the dominance of colour white in his group’s attire, he says that Sufism believes in purity and love, and they are devoid of materialistic desires, therefore they wear white clothes, and instead of wearing colorful turbans as is seen in the Manganiyar community, they wear turbans of red color, since red is a symbol of love.

 

His group’s music is as unique as it is timeless, as it combines the traditions and emotions from both Hinduism and Islam, music has no boundaries of caste, creed or religion, and Amrat     Khan’s music is a perfect example of that. In one particular song, rendered from a poem by the famous Sufi Poet, Shah Latif, who composed mainly in the Sindhi language, a girl wishes to leave this material world and desires to become a ‘Jogan’, (female ascetic). In the entire song, she uses various metaphors for describing a Swami, yet retaining the Sindhi-Islamic flavour. It’s interesting, yet worth noting that most of the singers from these Manganiyaar communities are followers of Islam when it comes to religious worship, yet they are Hindusus in their day-to-day life.

 

Khufar jholiyo kulhan mein

Wajnan wayu kann

The swami carries a satchel (jhola), in which he keeps a utensil

When he asks for food.

He keeps walking and roaming till eternity.

(Swamis, in India, generally carry a satchel, and are dressed in simple clothes, they are devoid of material desires and live on “bhiksha”, on people’s generosity)

 

The swami usually carries a utensil which is known as ‘kista’ in the local language and lives on the food provided by the people which he carries in his ‘kista’. The most mesmerizing thing about this composition is that it’s composed in Raaga Malahari, which is an important Raaga in Hindustani Classical music and is associated with the atmosphere of rains. Yet, this is the beauty of folk music, that one raga can be used to evoke various emotions and to create a variety of moods. According to legend, raga Malhar is so powerful that when sung, it can induce rainfall. It is possible that the rainfall that the legends speak of is, in fact, metaphorical of the state of mind brought about by the recital of the raga. Rarely does one come to witness a beautiful palimpsest of different raagas, languages, and emotions together, and Amrat Khan’s powerful vocals enhance the poetic mood of these compositions. A staunch follower of the Sufi genre of music, Amrat Khan wants to retain this genre and wants to practice it till eternity. Amrat  Khan concludes with a beautiful song.

Sawai Khan and Group

Sawai Khan had always aspired to be a musician and was mostly tutored at home. Like all other members of Manganiyaar community, his family has been singing for the royal families since generations. Sawai Khan’s inspiration has been his uncle, Nazeer Khan and he wants this art to pervade into the future generations. He has been singing since the age of 8. Simple, humble and not very talkative, Sawai  Khan explains about his music with a sense of calm, and with a composed articulated manner.

 

Sawai Khan leads an experienced group of musicians who have been learning music from a very young age. They come from the background of the Manganiyar tribe who have been residents of the Barmer and Jaisalmer regions of the state of Rajasthan. The music is an indispensable element of the culture of this tribe. Most people from this community take up music as their primary source of income. These people are deeply passionate about their music and are purely involved in the art forms that have been passed onto them by their ancestors. 

 

Sawai Khan himself is an expert at playing various traditional instruments, especially Harmonium. He has more than two decades of experience in learning and playing the instrument. His musical group consists of percussion specialists like Mushtaq and Rasool Khan who play Dholak as well as Devu and Satar Khan’s skills lie in playing the Khartal. 

 

Together these musicians have sung and compiled numerous folk songs over the years. They have performed at a number of events around the state of Rajasthan and have made multiple appearances in different cities of the country. Sawai Khan’s group considers the Bhati family, who is a royal Rajput family residing in the region, as their patrons and regularly perform at the celebratory events organized in the family. 

 

Sawai Khan himself is deeply knowledgeable about classical music and its components such as the ragas. He has gained this knowledge with the help of his father and passes it on to his children as their guru. He loves to sing the ‘Subh’ raga, which is supposed to be sung in the morning. His talents and abilities show the true meaning of brilliance and dexterity. Using these abilities and a display of various emotions through his music, Sawai Khan wants to make an impact on to the Manganiyar community’s presence in the world of music. 

 

 

As he talks about the Alamkhana history, Sawai Khan explains, that there are four sub-castes even amongst Manganiyaars, namely, “Bhand”: Jesters in the royal courts, “Nagarchi”: People who play the ‘Nagada’, a sort of large drum, ‘Dagga’ people who played the dholak, and ‘Chandani’. His group has performed many times in the royal courts and the songs are customized for the Maharajas. Unlike other groups who combine classical and folk raagas, his group is only into pure folk music, and follow the traditional system of 6 main Raagas, and 30 raaginis. (wives of raagas, as per mythology). At times, singing styles like Dadra are improvised on the spot.

 

One of his main principles has been to always lend a helping hand to others, as he believes that God watches over all of us. Sawai khan is a song composer too, and through his songs, he pays a tribute to women and their “Shringaar”, which literally means ornamentation, or the way the women deck up themselves to please their husbands. One can almost feel the pain of these women who dutifully abide by their husbands’ whims and fancies, yet, their love for them is unending, and their devotion towards them never dies, just like the music of Jaisalmer.

 

Such is the music of Jaisalmer, embedded in its golden sand dunes and engraved in every stone of the majestic living fort-city. Manganiyaar communities like that of Sawai Khan have kept their tradition alive through all these years through Guru-Shishya parampara, (teacher disciple tradition). They have been entertaining the royal families since generations and their contribution to musical history is as vast as the Thar desert itself. The elegant use of poetry and numerous metaphors is what makes them different. Every nook and corner of Jaisalmer is filled with several Sawai Khans who are trying to carve a niche with their individual uniqueness. This group has young and passionate folk musicians who are always keen to learn new aspects of their musical heritage.

 

The music is infinite, and the possibilities of his melodies are endless. Music itself is so vast that it cannot be confined to a textbook and standardized, as there are no set standards to learning music which is imbibed in his blood through generations. India is known for its colors and various layers of culture, and the culture of Jaisalmer is rich enough with harmonious melodies promulgating in unforgettable renditions. As Jawahar Lal Nehru says, “India is like a palimpsest”, with layers and layers of thoughts and reverie inscribed on it. Such is this music of Manganiyaars, which have layers and layers of voices, history, folklore, love and melodies. This land of Jaisalmer, which is so rich in history, music plays a vital role in shaping their livelihood, and their life in Jaisalmer. This is the music, the culture which deserves to be preserved since it’s a part of the intangible heritage, and a vital part of the socio-economic fabric of Jaisalmer.

Sidhar Music Group

“Give me some music; moody food of us that trade in love.”

As Lateef   Khan enunciates it: That music is like an addictive worship. Music has been the lifeline of this artist from the famous Manganiyar community of Rajasthan. Lateef   Khan, aged 38, lives in the famous Kalakaar colony of Jaisalmer, and his family has been the pioneers of folk music in Jaisalmer since generations, and he has been singing these folk songs since his childhood, he was brought up in a musical environment.

 

While explaining the meaning of Manganiyar, Lateef   Khan says that their families used to get rewards from royal Rajput families for their singing, hence the name Manganiyar is derived from the Hindi term “Maangna”, which means to ask. Lateef   Khan’s eyes light up with an exquisite shine while talking about music. Lateef Khan is an eminent songwriter himself and is fond of composing songs, these songs are based on several auspicious occasions, and describe the human feelings, emotions in a very subtle way.

 

In his songs, which are mostly played with Harmonium as a basic instrument, Lateef   Khan and his group members improvise on percussions with “Khadtaal”, while the time (taal) of the song is kept using two dholaks.

 

Lateef   Khan’s songs are composed in ragas like Malkaush(Malkauns). The name Malkaush is derived from the combination of Mal and Kaushik, which means he who wears serpents like garlands — the god Shiva. Other ragas which are used in his compositions are “bhairava shahi”, “Megh”, “Hindol”, “Deepak” and “Shree” and are set to “Kairvan taal”, a 6 beat cycle. Pictorially these ragas are always shown as males and each of these ragas has eight feminine consorts, always visually shown as females. They further have eight sons or ragaputras. These ragas used by Lateef   Khan also hints of influences from Guru Granth Sahib, According to the Guru Granth the first raga created by the Maker was Bhairav, and raga Bhairav had five raginis of which only the first, raga Bhairavi is known today and performed. The folk songs of Rajasthan have maintained the elements of Indian classical music despite the fact that they are freely composed and sung, knowing no rigid rules.

 

Lateef   Khan is greatly influenced by Sufi genre of music and cites the great Maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as his favourite. According to Lateef   Khan, folk music has a power which appeals to everyone. When asked about whether he is worried about the depleting number of folk musicians, he says that nowadays, people don’t understand the importance of folk music and are more oriented towards Bollywood.

 

Lateef   Khan and his group lose themselves in a trance as they were singing their enchanting music in a mesmerizing locale, at the garden of Jawahar Niwas. Their songs are mostly sung for various auspicious occasions like marriage and childbirth. Lateef   Khan’s songs combine love with the skill of music, and the result is a masterpiece.

 

Ho bhala jiyo bhala mhaare ghar ko maalik tu

(Hey spinning yard you’re the owner of the house)

 

Ho ho bhom charakhla mhaare ang dhoki lo tu, ho ho bhom charakhla hoye bhom charakhla 

(Hey great spinning wheel you provide me with clothes to cover my body)

 

Een charkhe re kaarane nandan ne paranaaye laalji nandan ne parnaaye mhaare hiwde hath dalaai

(Hey great spinning wheel, you feed the guest at my sister-in-law’s wedding)

 

Mhaare hiwde haath dalaai mhaare ghar ko maalik tu ho ho bhom charakhla  

(You gave me the courage to run my home, Oh great spinning wheel)

 

Lateef   Khan would like to carry forward these traditions of his family and impart this art to his coming generations as well, but like all his counterparts in this region, he also lays special emphasis on basic technical education for all. Lateef   Khan and his group members, Isaac Khan, Mohammed Nawaz, and Sawan Khan are skilled musicians describe music as a coherent and binding factor and vouch for their community and neighbourhood for providing a cooperative and friendly environment for sustaining this art.

 

For everyone who has lived, loved and lost, Lateef   Khan’s songs will appeal greatly as they cover a plethora of emotions.

“Haazir-ubareshon, laal bane na josho”.

 

I am waiting for my beloved, and I can look at him clearly if he walks slowly and gracefully.

For these artists, music is like an “Ibaadat” (worship), and this skill only improves with more and more practice. Some of the raagas are used in the purest form while some are used in combination. They also experiment with mixing various raagas like Malkaush and Bhairavi, much like a “Raagamalika” (a garland of raagas) in Carnatic music, blending them effortlessly to create more melodies. Over the years, these artists have helped in preserving and conserving this intangible heritage of the city of Jaisalmer, and this tradition should be continued with time. Truly, when love and skill combine, one should really expect a masterpiece, and Lateef   Khan’s music is no less than a masterpiece when it comes to explaining even the most delicate, yet heartfelt human emotions.

Chauthe Khan and Group

We met Chauthe Khan and his group at a small desert camp in Sam, where they were giving their routine performances to the guests. Chauthe Khan is as interesting as his name which he gets being the fourth child to his parents. He and his group members are proud to be a managaniyaar and thus wishes to make their community feel proud by getting name and fame in the foreign lands through their performances. Their favourite time of the performance is when they sing songs of their glorified birthland – Rajasthan. Chauthe, innocently tells us that his songs about “Rangilo Rajasthan ” describes the best about the land where they were born and have spent all their lives. 

 

Everyone in his family are well skilled Khamaicha, Khartal, Dholak player but he decided to go ahead with singing. With all the major categories of Folk music, he writes and self composes songs which are mostly based on themes like Royal family praise and weddings. He is a multi-talented world musician who has performed on various stages across the world. His music is as enticing as its rhythmically complex.

 

His passion for singing and harmonium playing is manifest in the way he maintains harmonies, rhythms and in sustaining the grace of his instrument and voice throughout, while accompanying other vocalists and instrumentalists. Chauthe  Khan has traveled all over the world while accompanying senior artists, especially with Kutle Khan and collective in Western Europe and USA, besides visiting other countries. Even apart from going and performing along with senior artists, he has visited to various countries where he has played with his group. He believes it is very important for each artist to understand their folk music in depth. He has a dream to have a collaborative performance with learned musicians from western music, form a group which can perform all over the world to spread love and peace with music. Chauthe  Khan sings various types of songs like traditional folk, sindhi sufi, qawwali, etc. He believes that if he keeps on working honestly and whole heartedly the Almighty will never let him sleep empty stomach and very beautifully he quotes “Khuda uthata khaali pet and par sulaata nahi (Almighty wakes you up with empty stomach but never you sleep with one)”. The man is working as a musician because according to him Almighty has given the job of taking forward music to his community and therefore they follow it full time without any excuse.

 

Chauthe  Khan and his group is an amalgamation of young enthusiastic musicians and a leader who leads them throughout all the musical convoys. The group when sits together and perform they create a happy place for the people listening to them. The group has all the young members who are passionate about playing for public. All the members strongly believe that it’s their responsibility to carry forward their tradition of folk music and pass it on to the next generation. The group consists of the main vocalist and harmonium player Chauthe  Khan, 2 dholak plyers Sawan Khan and Issak Khan, 2 Khartal players Mohd. Nawaz and Vikram Bhatt.

 

The group has all young members which are keen musicians and like to mix a blend of different beats in the songs that they play. Whether its Sawan Khan, age 19, Issak Khan, age 21, Mohd. Nawaz, age 19 or Vikram Bhatt, age 20 these all like to make renditions of the age old folk songs and present it to the audience in a new way with different style. The members are fast learners they can adapt and modify beats as per the choice of the song or audience making the hearing experience more interesting. The group wants to go abroad and all over India to perform. They wish to make their name in the entire world, they want that the world should recognise India with their name and fame. They want to become famous in such a way that their family, their country and their community feel proud of them. They want to leave a mark in the world with music as its basis and lead their folk music with pride and respect. The group wants to work with musicians from all over the country and the world.

 

Chauthe Khan and his group of instrumentalists are a small but crucial part of the Manganiyar community of Jaisalmer. They hail from the village Ugwa. This community, as a culmination of achievement of peace and harmony as well as acceptance of different faiths and religions, is a peculiar group of people, since they typically belong to the Muslim faith but sing praises in remembrance of both Sufi saints and also the Hindu god Krishna. They are plenary instrumentalists and vocalists in an undiluted, albeit a lost art form, who have combined the popular religious traditions with the artistry required to express the emotions of the folk.

 

Chauthe Khan started learning music at a mere age of eight and hasn’t halted since. Along with the musical abilities of Salim Khan as well as Lateef and Balla Khan, he performs at a plethora of cultural events during the musical season that lasts for the whole winter season. They also play at popular hotels and resorts in the region and play bhajans and praises of the Hindu gods and Sufi saints during events such as childbirth, weddings, and religious festivals. This is a key aspect of the Manganiyar community’s traditions and culture. These activities ensure the survival of folk music in the region.

 

Their knowledge in the field of classical music also helps with their performances and improvisation of older folk melodies. They like to perform music played in various ragas and talas but they are most fond of playing the Mada and Kalyan ragas as these ragas are played during the evening which, according to them is the best time of the day. Despite all their struggles, this group understands the importance of the development of their musical talents on their families and community and want to depict their craft in its truest forms to all their audiences, the one’s that watch them during their visits to various cities as well the tourists that come to experience the culture of the Manganiyars.

Pappu Khan and Group

The songs of Papu Khan possess such captivating powers. This eminent artist is from Sam, Jaisalmer who is carrying forward his family tradition of folk music. He has been learning and performing music from a very young age. He plays the harmonium along with singing. He was studying till 10th standard and after that, he learnt music.  He sings songs of love and betrayal, birth and death. He says, “Such is the juxtapose of artists. We delve into anomalies.”

 

He is a father of a young boy and a girl, with whom he tries to make the cultural heritage. He is very fond of singing traditional old songs about love, lovers, etc. With this he started his song;

 

 Janani jane to aiso jane ka daata ka sur

(A mother shall give birth to a godly man)

 

Nito rahe kul mein baajni

(A strong man with principles)

 

Mate gumaaye noor

(Or no man at all)

 

Bhuvda kai re, disadli mein jaave re

(As beloved brother leaves for his labour work)

 

Are vaata jo vai thaare bhatuda

((Everyone asks when will he be back)

 

Telling more about the song he mentions how the emotions and love of a young lady is beautifully portrayed in this folk piece. No wonder that artists, who render these beautiful lyrics day in and day out, get influenced by their spirit too. He says, “I see my children and I think that I am not able to give them all that they deserve. Folk musicians struggle for a living. This is a hard reality. I am sending them to school now, but I don’t know till when I would be able to take care of them. It makes me sad sometimes.”

 

Papu Khan is from Sam village in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. He has been following the tradition of singing his folk from the very beginning. He says that after taking birth their parent’s hand over them with different instruments and thus they learn them without any formal training. Such is the music of Jaisalmer, embedded in its golden sand dunes and engraved in every stone of the majestic living fort-city.

 

Manganiyaar communities like that of Papu Khan have kept their tradition alive through all these years through Guru-Shishya parampara, (teacher-disciple tradition). They have been entertaining the royal families for generations and their contribution to musical history is as vast as the Thar desert itself. The elegant use of poetry and numerous metaphors is what makes them different. Every nook and corner of Jaisalmer is filled with several Papu Khan who is trying to carve a niche with their individual uniqueness.

 

His voice is jewelled with the gems of semi-classical tone. He sang for us another beautiful song to cover his melancholy with a big and warm smile. This was the song of welcome. Such is the warmth of the Manganiyaar tribes. Perhaps, such is the life of these artists who translate their pain into beautiful folk songs.

 

 Ant bilaiyaan tola bichhaaiya

(I have made all the arrangements)

 

Mujhe varan haaye maaghi jeekhal ma

(And set the bed and dinner for you)

 

Magho dil jyo dost vadyo vajan

(But why haven’t you come yet, Oh my beloved)

 

Musa edi koi otan haaye makho jokhal ma

(He lied to me oh mother)

 

Dil jyo dost vadyo vajan

(Why hasn’t he returned)

 

Uth katara hale gaya ala naaiyo kar ja

(Everyone has arrived, even the cattle have arrived)

 

 

This beautiful song also talks about the warm welcoming culture of Rajasthan. Papu Khan puts this in his melodious voice and sings other songs of royalty, bravery, love and pain. His songs touch a chord strongly but they reach where they are supposed to.

 

The music is infinite, and the possibilities of his melodies are endless. The music itself is so vast that it cannot be confined to a textbook and standardized, as there are no set standards for learning music which is imbibed in his blood through generations. India is known for its colours and various layers of culture and the culture of Jaisalmer is rich enough with harmonious melodies promulgating in unforgettable renditions. He sings all kinds of songs and all the ragas, amongst which is favourite is Kalyan raag which is the mother of all six the ragas. Papu has performed almost everywhere in the country in most of the major cities. He wishes to go out of the country and spread the invaluableness of his culture in the world. He wants to make his country proud. He dreams of taking his community and the talent in them to the world and uplift them.

He also sings Sufi and hopes that his songs of prayers reach the one. Someday, he will shower his love and kindness upon him, he says with a great belief. He calls himself blessed to have performed all across the country. But when it comes to making a living, the struggle still exists. It is not easy. Money is an issue, an impediment. But the hope is that people will find them someday on the internet; that someone will notice them, and launch them. He will always sing. Whether it’ll give us anything or not. But you do few things because you are born to do that. Music is that for us, Papu says.

Samadhe Khan and Group

Music is in their blood

 

You return to those lines, and they hold the song in place. That’s what a song is mostly.

The songs of Samdhe Khan possess such captivating powers. This eminent artist is from Sam, Jaisalmer who is carrying forward his family tradition of folk music. He has been learning and performing music from a very young age. He plays the harmonium along with singing. He was studying till 10th standard and after that, he learnt music.  He sings songs of love and betrayal, birth and death. He says, “Such is the juxtapose of artists. We delve into anomalies.”

He is a father of a young boy and a girl, with whom he every day tries to make the cultural heritage. He is very fond of singing traditional old songs about love, lovers, etc. With this he started his song;

Baage baage hazari gulro phool

(As you go towards your in laws’ home)

Koyal chaali mhaari baaga mein

(We’ll miss you our beloved daughter)

Ithro re jaajo maata ji bhalwo sa rolaad

(Your mother loves you and she will miss you)

Ithro re jaajo bhai re bhalwo sa rolaad

(Your brother loves you and will miss you)

Sakhra re sohan mhaari laad

(Your father loves you and will miss you)

Baage baage hazari gulro phool

(As you go towards your in laws’ home)

Telling more about the song he mentions how the emotions and love of a young lady is beautifully portrayed in this folk piece. No wonder that artists, who render these beautiful lyrics day in and day out, get influenced by their spirit too. He says, “I see my children and I think that I am not able to give them all that deserve. Folk musicians struggle for a living. This is a hard reality. I am sending them to school now, but I don’t know till when I would be able to take care of them. It makes me sad sometimes.” Samdhe Khan is from Sam village in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. He has been following the tradition of singing his folk from the very beginning. He says that they after taking birth their parent’s hand over them with different instruments and thus they learn them without any formal training. Such is the music of Jaisalmer, embedded in its golden sand dunes and engraved in every stone of the majestic living fort-city.

Manganiyaar communities like that of Samdhe Khan have kept their tradition alive through all these years through Guru-Shishya parampara, (teacher-disciple tradition). They have been entertaining the royal families since generations and their contribution to musical history is as vast as the Thar desert itself. The elegant use of poetry and numerous metaphors is what makes them different. Every nook and corner of Jaisalmer is filled with several Samdhe Khan who is trying to carve a niche with their individual uniqueness. His voice is jewelled with the gems of semi-classical tone. He sang for us another beautiful song to cover his melancholy with a big and warm smile. This was the song of welcome. Such is the warmth of the Manganiyaar tribes. Perhaps, such is the life of these artists who translate their pain into beautiful folk songs. This beautiful song also talks about the warm welcoming culture of Rajasthan. Samdhe Khan puts this in his melodious voice and sings other songs of royalty, bravery, love and pain. His songs touch a chord strongly but they reach where they are supposed to.

The music is infinite, and the possibilities of his melodies are endless. The music itself is so vast that it cannot be confined to a textbook and standardized, as there are no set standards for learning music which is imbibed in his blood through generations. India is known for its colours and various layers of culture and the culture of Jaisalmer is rich enough with harmonious melodies promulgating in unforgettable renditions. He sings all kind of songs and all the ragas, amongst which is favourite is Kalyan raag which is the mother of all six the ragas. Samdhe has performed almost everywhere in the country in most of the major cities. He wishes to go out of the country and spread the invaluableness of his culture in the world. He wants to make his country proud. He dreams of taking his community and the talent in them to the world and uplift them. He also sings Sufi and hopes that his songs of prayers reach the one. Someday, he will shower his love and kindness upon him, he says with a great belief. He calls himself blessed to have performed all across the country. But when it comes to making a living, the struggle still exists. It is not easy. Money is an issue, an impediment. But the hope is that people will find them someday on the internet; that someone will notice them, and launch them. He will always sing. Whether it’ll give us anything or not. But you do few things because you are born to do that. Music is that for us, Samdhe says.

Babu Khan and Party

BABUKHANGROUP.COM

A musician leading a generation

Drenched in the Sun of Jaisalmer’s golden city Babu Khan and his group sat down with their instruments to play the tunes of their music. For them, music is their lifeline. The group leader Babu Khan is a modest person who believes in hard work and disciplined life. He is someone who had been acquainted with music since he was a four-year-old kid. He says that he never sat down with anyone particularly to learn music, whatever he knows till date is all because of his father and brother who used to sing every day.

Talking about the music and traditional folk, he says that he sings songs in all kinds of Ragas like Khamaj, Bhairavi, Malhaar etc. Amongst these, his favourite is Khamaj in which he sings all the happy occasion songs. Babu says that they sing all kind of songs, for all the occasions they have traditional folk songs, right from birth to death. They are known for singing songs for all the auspicious occasions like childbirth, marriage, housewarming, etc. Since they are considered auspicious by their royal patronage, they are being called before every such occasion. They tell with pride that no happy occasion starts without their presence and performance.

When asked about the group’s future, Babu thinks of his kids and says with a smile, “ bachche hain bhavishya, inhe hi seekha padha rahe hain ab to sab inke haath mein hain, barbaad karein ya abaad karein (these children are the future of our traditional heritage and we are doing our duty by keeping it alive through teaching these children, now everything is in their hands to save or to destroy.).” He told that the children in his family have very much keen interest in their traditional folk music but he makes sure that they are studying also with sincerity. He recalls his time of life when he was a child and left his studies for the sake of focusing on only music. He feels that he should have completed his studies at least till class 10th, then he wouldn’t have to face unpleasant situations in his life and thus he will put in all the efforts to make his literate.

Babu Khan and his group’s music speak for themselves. They then sit together to perform, binds the atmosphere with a magical aura that mesmerizes the audience. The group sings all kind of songs, especially the one which are original authentic folk songs. The group is known for singing songs which are very rare to be heard and thus there are few songs that only they sing and no one knows such songs. The group is one such group of Rajasthan Manganiyaar community that has a treasure of age-old traditional folklore. They are trying to pass on this traditional heritage to their next generation and have all their faith in them that they shall carry forward with them to give to their next generation. He sings:

Ram kisi ko ni marte hain,nai hatiyaro ram

(Ram never killed anyone, he is not a murderer)

Aapo aap mart hain karkar khota kaam

(One dies when he commits wrong)

Sadhu ki sangat bhali ,phit papi ka naam

(It is good to be in a company of a Saint, that is why early in the morning no one takes sinner’s name)

Moorakh se gadha bhala bhookh batawae gaanv

(A donkey is better than a stupid fellow, but at times because of a hungry donkey an entire village can be in peril)

This group is all about passing on the fire of traditional heritage from one generation to another, which has actually become an exercise drill to make it survive anyhow. The new generation in their group is also very serious when it comes to learning and the old traditional folk songs. They say that it is easier for them to learn them with their studies as they have interest in both of them. They, just like their elders have dreams of taking forward the legacy of their forefathers to a wider audience and global platform. They want the world to know Rajasthan because of them and want to become an epitome of the great music of Rajasthan in the world.

The seasoned artists in the group are responsible for the teaching and guidance of the younger artists present in the group. The group sings mostly authentic original songs of their traditional heritage which has been passed on from their forefathers to them which each generation. The group performs at various occasions like childbirth, wedding, house warming, etc. at their patronages’ houses. The group earns their living out of the live performances they give at various different places. Apart from the music they literally don’t have any means through which they can earn.

These group of artists don’t dream of going to Bollywood and collect fame, rather they and the world to know Rajasthan and their singing is known by their music. They want to make their country proud and carry forward their legacy from one generation to another. For them all they know is music and they can never get apart from it and thus for them it a not just music it is their way of living their lives.