Singing at Tansen’s tomb – The Hindu

The annual samaroh at Behat in Gwalior is without doubt one of the nation’s oldest and most inclusive music festivals

Swar and taal echoed by the small village of Behat in Gwalior district, the place the 97th version of the Tansen Samaroh was held in December 2021.

The Tansen Samaroh is among the many oldest music festivals in India; the oldest in all probability being Jalandhar’s 138-year-old Harvallabh Competition. Dovar Lane Music Convention, Bhatkhande Sangeet Sammelan, Gunidas Sangeet Sammelan, Shankarlal Music Competition are a number of others which can be recognized worldwide for the worth they’ve added to the Indian classical music situation.

Myriad genres showcased

The Tansen Samaroh stands out due to the myriad genres it showcases. The previous couple of years have seen the pageant current worldwide artistes to the Indian viewers. Although Mumbai, Pune, Goa and the Northeastern states have hosted jazz, blues, and EDM artistes, having them carry out alongside Indian classical musicians has been a primary. The Samaroh has efficiently introduced many musical genres collectively and managed to maintain audiences engaged.

Mian Tansen, one of many 9 gems of emperor Akbar’s darbar, was born Ramtanu Mishra in a village close to Rewa. He spent most of his grownup life within the court docket of Raja Ramchandra Singh of Rewa. Ramtanu was given the identify ‘Tansen’ by his guru Swami Haridas in appreciation of his scholar’s proficiency in rendering taans and the vary and high quality of his voice. Tansen, until immediately, is known as the Sangeet Samrat. The title ‘mian’ was bestowed upon him by Akbar. The emperor’s court docket historian, Abul Fazal, makes a particular point out of Tansen in his Ain-i-Akbari.

There are a number of legends related to Tansen, the most well-liked ones being how his singing of raag Deepak (no longer in vogue in its authentic type) may set lamps alight and the way his rendering of raag Megh Malhar may deliver rains.

Tansen’s journey was not a simple one. After dropping his father at a really younger age, Tansen would sing outdoors the Shiva temple in his village. Sufi saint Mohammad Ghaus took him underneath his care and commenced coaching him in music. Tansen finally learnt from Swami Haridas.

It was in 1924 that Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia of Gwalior determined to commemorate the reminiscence and legacy of the legendary singer by holding a music pageant close to his grave in Behat. Initially, solely Hindustani classical musicians, sufi and folks singers from neighbouring cities and villages participated.

Gwalior’s kings had all the time nurtured music, with artistes and college students from throughout the nation coming to this princely state to hunt patronage. It led to Gwalior rising because the seat of Hindustani music. The Gwalior gharana was established by Naththan Pir Baksh and his household, who had moved to the court docket of Raja Daulat Rao Scindia. Although Pir Baksh’s gayaki was dhrupad-based, he’s additionally mentioned to have launched khayal gayaki. The Gwalior gharana noticed the bandish as a software to achieve out to listeners, and even immediately, musicians of many gharanas sing bandishes of the Gwalior gharana.

Formal format

Within the Nineteen Fifties, the federal government of Madhya Pradesh determined to take over the Tansen Sangeet Samaroh and switch it right into a vacationer attraction. Since then, the pageant has had a extra formal format and was prolonged to incorporate genres corresponding to Carnatic, instrumental and semi-classical, together with lec-dems and artwork exhibitions. Dr. Keskar, the State’s then cultural secretary, performed a major function in bringing about this shift. Over the previous 70 years, political adjustments have, fortunately, not affected the conduct of the pageant. If something, it has solely grown in dimension and stature, and the affiliation of the Ustad Alladin Khan Sangeet and Kala Academy has rather a lot to do with this evolution.

At the moment, although the principle live shows happen within the enormous shamiana erected close to Tansen’s tomb, occasions are additionally carried out at different close by venues.

This yr the samaroh started on December 25 with the rendering of Punjabi Sufi songs by Ustad Pooranchand Badali and Lakhwinder Badali at Hajira, a close-by village. The pageant concluded on December 30 with a dhrupad live performance by Saranad Mandir of Gwalior. The final session additionally included a vocal recital by Vaishali Bakore and Saniya Patankar and a vichitra veena recital by Radhika Umedkar.

The opposite highlights of this yr’s pageant have been the discharge of Pt. Ravi Shankar’s monograph, using conventional arts corresponding to Madhubani to depict the feelings related to completely different raags, and well-known vocalist Satyasheel Deshpande’s session on bandish.

Whereas it’s heartening to see that the pageant has grown in dimension, an excessive amount of just isn’t all the time good. The cramped live performance schedule — two classes a day, every lasting about 5 hours — leaves listeners exhausted and confused. This defeats the very function of music to calm the thoughts and soothe the soul. The organisers want to significantly give a thought to the pageant’s time issue for it to retain its attraction.

The Mumbai-based author is the

founding father of Pancham Nishad.

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