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Gazi Khan and Group

By July 20, 2018August 3rd, 2018Rajasthan

A Legend Binding Legacies


The amount of enthusiasm which Gazi Khan expresses when he explains his music is unmatchable, this talented musician is not only good with Khadtaal, but he is good with his words too when he says that music cannot be confined to the boundaries of religion and caste.

Gazi Khan is a living legend and an epitome of perseverance and hard work. In all these decades, during which he has worked in Jaisalmer, this legend has stories to tell from every nook and corner. He loses himself in the trance as he and his group lapse into their rendition of a popular Sufi song “Dama dam mast Kalandar”.

Sadke sadke jhoole jhoole
Mast kalandar

One who has immersed himself totally in divine worship, and in the “Sajda”(bowing one’s heads before God), he is known as Qalandar. He is oblivious to everything else.(Mast)

Sindadi da sevan da Sartaaj kalandar

O, the lord, the friend and the Sire of Sindh and Sehwan, The red robed God-intoxicated Qalandar, The Lord in every breath of mine, glory unto to you!

Ghazi Khan’s musical journey started quite early, at the age of around 4 or 5. He is educated till 8th standard, and after that devoted himself to his musical career. Ghazi Khan Barna hails from a small settlement of 40 houses known as Barna, some 35kms from Jaisalmer. Ghazi Khan is based in Rajasthan since birth and hails from a lineage of Manganiyaar musicians. He has been performing since childhood and went on a tour for 45 days in 1985 to Italy, Holland and France. During the same time, he spent 3 months in Russia for a workshop. As a child, everyone was quite fond of him as he says, and he has performed with various eminent artists from all over the world like Pt. Ravi Shankar, whom he accompanied in 1994 on a tour called “From the Sitar to the Guitar”. After his Japan performance in 1988, the international journeys became a norm for Ghazi Khan, which continued with his subsequent visit to Paris in 1993 for 45 days, where he worked on a collaboration called “Father to Son, Mother to Daughter”, which talked about transferring the musical talent generation through generation. In 2002, he worked with Rajeev Sethi, Architect and designer on Silk Road project, in Washington D.C.

Sethi conceived and designed The Silk Road Festival for the 36th Annual Folk Life Festival of the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Launched in 2001, with an ambitious program of concerts, festivals and outreach activities with a distinguished team of scholars, musicians and artists from around the world, the Silk Road Festival was designed to illuminate the historical contributions of the Silk Road; support innovative collaborations among artists from the East and the West, and re-situate classical music within a broader global context. Silk Road offered an unprecedented opportunity for America to be exposed to the vitality of the pan-Asian entity, still living across many centuries, where the past and the future are never far apart.

Even though Gazi Khan is incredibly fond of singing, he likes to be primarily known as a Khadtaal Player, as he is passionate about it, and often likes a “Jugalbandi” with his counterparts with Khadtaal as his main instrument. Regarding the current musical trends, Gazi Khan says, that he is open to fusion music as long as it’s done sensibly. Gazi Khan says that the credit for his success goes to Komal Kothari, an activist who has played an important role in uplifting the people of Maganiyaar community and providing them with a global platform. Gazi Khan likes to imbibe other cultures and languages when he travels and speaks Hindi, Marwari, English and surprisingly, Russian and Japanese too.

While explaining the nuances of his group’s music, he adds, that they are Islamic in their beliefs, but Hindu in their daily life pattern. He says that music cannot be confined to religious boundaries, and he proudly says that even though his surname is “Khan”, he likes to sing Krishna bhajans.

Gazi Khan has a keen interest in documenting Manganiyaar music in a proper manner and has well researched on the type of Raagas, and Taalas which are used in their songs. Traditional raagas like Sorath and Bhairav should be taught and propagated in a proper manner to the younger generation, he says. He has set up a musical institute named “Pehchaan” which means identity, as he says that the Manganiyaars are still striving for their true identity in the world of music. He cites Nehru Art Centre in London as his inspiration where every room was named on a particular type of Raaga. He teaches music whenever possible and wants to reach out to institutes who have previously recorded or documented Manganiyaar music for obtaining a copy.

Ghazi Khan’s legacy is widespread in the musical community of Jaisalmer and his efforts in preserving and documenting this music are remarkable. Every singer and every musician in Jaisalmer has a unique story, and words are too less to describe the sheer grandeur of their musical poetry.

Jholi khaali
Aaya sawaali
Yaar dewaane, berutwane

All those who are empty handed, and carrying a jholi (satchel=symbolism of empty hands), come to you, in your intoxicated worship, and oblivious to everything else.

Sindadi da sevan da Laal kalandar

O, the lord, the friend and the Sire of Sindh and Sehwan, The red robed God-intoxicated Qalandar, The Lord in every breath of mine, glory unto to you.

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