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Rajasthan

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

Telling more about the song he mentions how the emotions and love of a young lady are 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.”
 
He is the 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;
(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)
 
Pappu 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 Pappu 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 Pappu 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. Pappu 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.
 
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 a few things because you are born to do that. Music is that for us, Pappu says. e 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.
 

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.

Dev Ram and Group

Bhagya bhala jana satguru mileya padya samand mon sheer
(We were lucky to meet Kabir Das as he is a sea of knowledge)
 
Hans hoye chugli ji re naam amolakh heera gun gayi le
(And we imbibed his knowledge like a swan swallows pearls)
 
Harira gun gaile jab lakh sukh shareer
(Till the time our body is fit and fine, till then we should take God’s name)
 
Peechhe ghano pachhtais panjare me wapela peed
(Later on, one will regret when the time has gone and there is nothing left in hand)
 
The artist, Dev Ram, fondly known as Devu, belongs to the famous Manganiyar community of Rajasthan. Manganiyars are Muslim communities in Sindh and Rajasthan areas and are famous for their classical folk music. They are the groups of hereditary professional musicians, whose music has been supported by wealthy landlords and aristocrats for generations. In 1978, Jodhpur-based musician Komal Kothari provided the Manganiars with institutional support, allowing them to sing outside the state for the first time. Currently, several Manganiar groups tour internationally. Dev Ram(49) has been in Jaisalmer ever since he was 20 and members of his community were have been singers in the royal court since centuries. Their music genre mainly comprises of Bhajans and Sufi songs, which are based on verses composed by various mystics like Meerabai and Kabir.
 
Played on simple instruments like “Tandura” (a five-stringed instrument resembling Veena) and Harmonium, Dev Ram’s songs speak about humanity and love. Most of these songs are composed in “Chautaal” or a 4 beat cycle. According to Bagge Khan, they experiment with various ragas like “Bhairavi”, “Surth”, “Jog” without losing out on the essence and spirit of the song. As Dev Ram quotes the famous poet Bulle Shah “Love is of two types, one is the unending love for Allah and one is the love which we share with each other”. And this love can be best expressed through music, as Shakespeare said: “If music is the food for love, Play on”.
 
Taking spirituality to another level, Dev Ram lovingly known as Devu is ground to earth person with a mesmerizing voice. His life is as simple as he is, the only thing he knows is to sing bhajans which he has been singing since he was an eight-year-old kid. He is carrying forward the generation-old legacy with such dedication and faith in his heart for the beloved Almighty. He states that while he sings his bhajans he gets connected to the Almighty and through that he has realized that there is just one Being and each one us constitutes it. He believes in the theory of One Soul – One Universe. Dev Ram has learned from his father who likes him used to sing bhajans just like his previous generations. During the process of learning bhajans, he learnt to play Tandoora which adds beauty to his voice. Tandoora in looks resembles Veena as it sounds like it and has five strings. It is played with equipment which is a ring-like structure known as Nakhli (worn in right hand’s index finger). Hearing Dev Ram takes you to a phase where you feel lost in the moment and could connect with your innersole.
 
Dev Ram belongs from Meherwal caste, the people of this caste are have been indulged in performing bhajans from the very beginning of their inception. From his ancestors to the youngest child of his family are all fabulous folk musicians. None of the musicians in his family have taken training or formally learned about music, music and its sense comes naturally to them. Dev Ram has performed in more than 30 countries but his most favourite is Paris which organised his first-ever international performance. For him, city, time, people or any other thing doesn’t cause any difference in his performance. According to Dev Ram, a person who has well depth and knowledge about music is the most learned person as he has a way to communicate with his inner self and with Almighty.
 
So if one meets this legendary bhajan singer, he or she will figure out that this man is all about music and Almighty. Dev Ram and his group are as old as his learning in music. The group consists of a small five number of people who have different and meaningful roles to be carried out. In the group, we have a main vocalist Dev Ram on Tandoora, 2 backing vocals with Manjira, 1 musician on Dholak and one on Harmonium. Each of these musicians is amazing performers who together take the group forward in achieving its objective of transcending from the crowd to focus on oneself. They all are Manganiyars from Meghwal caste, which has a background history of folk musicians singing bhajans written by Kabir, Meera, etc.
 
All these folk musicians have learned music just by listening from their fathers-grand fathers and yet they are so perfect at what they do. All they wish to do is to collaborate and play music with musicians who have learned music as formal education and that is their dream. The group is all about spiritual indulgence and want to remain the same for their entire life. They follow the path of peace and kindness. Their wish is to construct a training institute for the next generation where they could guide and teach children about their culture and tradition with formal education. They would like the Government to recognize them as an authority such that the trainees who come from faraway lands could trust them more and feel their creditability. The performances by these groups are so wonderful that one feels like listening to them throughout.

Mohini Devi and Group

Nomads in the Fort

 

After travelling in Rajasthan for two years we finally met a female singer who is the leader of the group. This lady is none other than Mohini Devi from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Mohini Devi is 50 years old but still, she hasn’t let the age affect her singing at all. She loves to perform as much as she was doing when she young. She belongs from a refugee community who were called nomads/ banjara. Mohini Devi is a new age woman, she doesn’t care about society and focusses on her and her family’s happiness. Her daughters are lovely Kaalbeliya dancers who love to dance. Not only this Mohini Devi has let her daughter in law also to go ahead and follow her passion for dancing and singing too. All her children are either dancers or singers but all of them are associated with music.

Whenever she performs she has mostly Langas who accompany her for her performances. The group always has a Khartaal, Sarangi, Dholak player with her,  Harmonium she plays herself. Her songs are about weddings, love tales, etc. Telling about her and her family she started off with her strong bold and confident voice with extremely soothing and complementing music in the background –

 

Nibuli  naaketo maya charu palla madu riii

I am spreading my stole you throw the fruit

Shaukeen jeevada pardeshi maya awadu thari aawe aawe ree

My husband has gone to a foreign country and now I am missing him

Thado re karaniye maya jur jur swali pad gayi

I have become dull and dark remembering him

 Shaukeen jeevada pardeshi maya awadu thari aawe aawe ree

My husband has gone to a foreign country and now I am missing him

 

The group loves to perform and can go on and on. They have together performed at various stages on national grounds. She told us that she is always ready to perform at any time and saying this she started singing the beautiful track –

 

Ismaal khan re babu re bangale mein bataiyo laagi

Ismaal Khan, I will come to your bungalow the way lights are lighting up

Shaukeen jeevada re Batiyaa babu re bangale mein

Ismaal has put up lights so that she comes to his bungalow

bataiyo laagi re thamke aaun mara meethodi bolira

I can see the lights and like that, I am approaching your bungalow 

Ismaal khan beggara bulaya moda gana aaya

Ismaal Khan called me home early and he himself came late

 

This beautiful amalgamation of Banjara and Lagha creates beautiful music each time they perform. Unlike other groups in Rajasthan, they don’t feel different on the basis of one’s community and cast, rather, they just focus on their music.

Rashid Khan and Group

Quench of Music with Langas

 

We had just begun our journey in Jodhpur when we happen to stumble upon a Sufi group who were singing some beautiful kalams by Bulleh Shah in front of our hotel. Rashid Khan Langa and his group members were all dressed in a white coloured kurta pyjama, turban on their head and beautiful piece of stole around their neck.  Upon asking he told us that they always wear white as it is the colour for purity and like the colour, they want to maintain the same with everything in their lives. This 30 years old man, Rashid hails from Phalaudi Village in Jodhpur. He hails from the famous Langa community of Rajasthan. Langas are versatile players of the Sindhi Sarangi and the Algoza (double flute), which accompany and echo their formidable and magical voices. They perform at events like births, and weddings, exclusively for their patrons (Yajman), who are cattle breeders, farmers, and landowners. “The ‘Sindhi Sarangi’ used by the Langas, is created by four main wires, with more than twenty vibrating sympathetic strings which help to create its distinctive haunting tones. The bowing of these instruments is a skilful exercise, often supported by the sound of the ‘ghungroos’ or ankle bells that are tied to the bow to make the beat more prominent.*

During seasons they perform at hotels where they earn Rs 6000 per month and at the time also gets 4 to 5 shows per month. According to him, the Langa community has always been passionate about music since generations. They ended the day with the song:

 

Dheema mandra te aaiyi jo ho raj jore invi raja nathdi ro hero neer khardne aaijo rajj

Come slowly O King!, and stay inside and don’t go anywhere, I will keep you the same way like I keep the diamond in my nose pin

Nathni ro moti karne rakho, hum raaj bhaino raja

I will keep you like the pearl in my nose pin, O King stay here

Sadura the laayijo oh lalayijo invi raj re ,

Whenever you will come back bring a stole for me, bring it O king!

sadure saath bhalero ro ni hum ro ni ree…

the stole looks beautiful on me

Hum roni re bhaino raja

Now don’t go

 

Rashid had introduced us with his group in a very different manner while seating together each started playing their respective instruments with songs describing them. The group is highly creative in terms of music and wishes to create songs which could be cherished by the coming generations, just the way he has been doing for his forefathers’ songs.

*Wikipedia

Sanu Khan and Group

Jodhpur has a vibe which can not be compared with any other place. Searching for a place to sit and relax we came across Sanu and his group in Mehrangarh Fort. Seeing us he greeted us with a song:

 

Dhann dhann bhaage banno re

The groom is running around with happiness

Aree Sawa aage banni laderlo  re

Let’s welcome the procession, it has arrived

Dhann moh tan kedi re maya re

Money and wealth nothing matters

Heli Aayo re heli mori laderlo amraano

My beloved groom has come to Amar Kot

Pe nigare sa raaje

Lift your feet and come

Auto bhaaye pyaaro re banna

The groom is looking so handsome

Areey Jaanida shringar laaderlo re

Dress up the procession beautifully

Jaanida ri jode hey banide

All walk together

 

They come from the Langha community of musicians who play Sindhi Sarangi and Algoza very fondly. Their music filled with magical voices is very different from usual Langha community music. They often perform at various occasion which varies according to the life events of their patrons which happens to be the royal family of that particular area. The Sarangi used by this group was not the usual type we often encounter with. It had four main wires with twenty vibrating sympathetic strings that helps in creating the mesmerising music.  One can find more about the langhas with their visit to Jodhpur, Phalaudi, Udaipur, etc. Music is the only source of livelihood for them. In future, they want their children to be trained in music but along with an academic inclination as well. During peak seasons, their group gets 2-3 offers to perform every month and earns as much as Rs.50,000 for each show. The songs of their group encompass a wide range of themes deep rooted in Rajasthani traditions. They get shows mostly because of their contacts. They are very well-aware of Anahad’s role and work in empowering folk musicians. The group sings songs about love, romance, different timelines of weddings, etc. On asking about their favourite song they started singing :

 

Khaatireda oh ji re baitha tu to maare chuttare o ji ree

Khaati’s son is sitting and he is looking very  beautiful

Sidhone …Ghaniya re gholi jaaun

He looks so beautiful, may he is safe from all evil eyes

Taraniyo re ghar lawa oh ji more

Bring the decorate flowers to my house

Chandane kedo re rukhero

It should be like sandalwood

Re rukhero oh ji re  rukhero re mora raj

Oh King, bring me a tree of Sandalwood

Aundene utariyo maaro gaddo maaru sawari re ada beech

Come on a horse and get down at my house

Ghaniya re gholi jaaun

meri nazar na lag jaae kahin

 

Sanu and his group are so happy with their musical lives that they never see their problem as any obstacle in their lives. The strength they get in their daily life to face adversities is from their music. Sanu wants to open a folk learning music school in his village and wishes to enrol next generation there free of charge to promote their culture.

Ayub Khan and Group

Tales of a Song Giver

 

Jodhpur is one of the most enchanting cities of Rajasthan, with its mighty Mehrangarh fort overlooking the city. In this enchanting city, we found a group from Langha community which was led by Ayub Khan. Langhas are tribal people of Rajasthan who are mostly found in the Jodhpur, Phaludi, Udaipur region. Hailing from the land of song givers, they are extraordinary performers. The group sings songs about love, romance, wedding, God, and many others. We had set up a location for them in a haveli which itself was quite extraordinary and the performance of the artists added to its glory.

Langas are accomplished players of the Sindhi Sarangi and the Algoza (double flute). Their music accompanies their challenging and enchanting songs. They perform at occasions like weddings and births, exclusively for their patrons. ‘Sindhi Sarangi’ is extensively used by them and is made up of four main wires and has more than twenty vibrating sympathetic strings that creates its unique haunting hues. Playing of these instruments is a skilful exercise, often supported by the sound of the ‘ghungroos’ or ankle bells that are tied to the bow to make the beat more prominent.*

During peak seasons, the group manages to secure 8-10 shows earning Rs. 7000-8000 per performance. They have performed in all major cities across India and dreams of being a renowned musician with a large band and having throngs of people attend his performances. They sing traditional songs from their community but do not write their own songs. They sing songs that fall in the Khamai, Maru, Kilad and Des Raag family. The group wishes to be able to sing the songs forever, money doesn’t matter to them. Stating this he started in his own way the song:

 

Charkho Chandan kaathro

The spin yard is made out of Sandal

Puni lal gulal

The threads in it are of different colours

Katwari kaatan baithi kaatyo ant na paar

And made a beautiful shawl with those threads

Ho bhala re jio bhala re

May God bless you with a long life

Bhue charkha bhu

Praise the spin yarn

They receive show bookings from local contacts who forward them with opportunities in India and abroad. The group dreams of being able to work to have their group perform across all cities and towns in India and expand their footprint.

 

*Wikipedia

Rafeek Khan and Group

Musical Affairs Amidst Land of Desert

 

Roaming in the grand city of Jodhpur, we came across a wonderful Langha group who had then just arrived from their village, Phalaudi. They were looking for a place to sit and jam since they had an event in the night on the same day. Meanwhile, we had just stepped out of the Mehrangarh Fort and caught glimpse of them setting up. As the group settled Rafeek took a beautiful alaap and began :

 

Maad dhara ri revodo anokhi -2

Our land and its people are unique

Madhvan meetha ji bole

People who live here speak such sweet language

Ghar ghar hove beeyan badavana

Every house has weddings

Ghar ghar ghoomar dhol

Each house has traditional dances and plays dhol

 

Mesmerised by the wordings and rhythm of the song we decided to stay longer and get acquaintance with the group and their music. Rafeek told us that he has been singing and performing ever since he was a child with his father. He dreams of getting a chance to sing with singers like Rahat Fateh Ali and Kailash Kher. His group told us that being from a Langha community they mostly sing songs about the brides -grooms, wedding processions and various other occasions. The group is an expert in Rajasthani folk, Sufi and Ghazal forms of singing. The Sufi genre is their favourite owing to the sheer, poetic words of Urdu language. As a group they want to impart musical knowledge to their children but only after they are educated well. They get 10-12 shows per month and earns around Rs.6000 for each show. They are not very educated and so got into music because of financial reasons.

Just like all the families in their communities, music is been carried forward by mostly male members and it is the only source of income in his family. The group feels that are born to do something big and for them, it is the songs which they know they want to do good to them. They want the world to hear their music and know about their culture and traditions. Moreover, they also want their music to be so much heard that people including their children feel inclined towards learning it. Telling us this Rafeek and his group started singing one of their favourite songs –

 

Saajan aaya re he sakhi

Oh, my friend, my dear husband has come

 Kaaye manwar karan 

How should I welcome him, he has come after so many days

 Areey thaal bharo gaj motiyaan upar nain dhara

I will fill the plate with pearls and shall keep him high

 O maara bhai sonera

O my dear brother

 Maara nindiya lada

O my dear beloved brother

 Laajo maaro gale riyo haar

Bring my necklace