Muslim Manganiyar tribe & Kalbelia dance – Rajasthan

Kalbelia dancer Indra. Photo:G. Moorthy - Courtesy: The Hindu

A Shrikumar, The Hindu, November 9, 2011

Rajasthani folk show brought Sufi sounds to the city […]

For Ustad Zamil Khan’s troupe, last Friday marked the first performance in town. For the students, it was a firsthand experience of Sufi music and folk dance. Rajasthani folk show, organized by SPICMACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture amongst Youth) and Thiagarajar College of Engineering, made the day memorable for over 400 students.

The men came dressed in colourful five-metre-long turbans, stitched dhotis and Badgaon jutis, and the eight performers in the team showed a strong presence. They belong to the Muslim Manganiyar tribe and come from the Barmer district of Rajasthan. “Singing Sufi songs is our traditional occupation and the art is passed on over generations,” says Ghazi Khan, lead singer. “Our children usually start learning the music as ten-year-olds and we give performances during happy occasions like marriage and festivals.”

The musicians in the troupe have performed in France, Italy, Spain, Egypt and Portugal, and they are among the few Sufi singing Manganiyars in Rajasthan. “There are hardly any awards and recognitions for folk arts in our country, while there are many for classical music and dance,” rues Ghazi Khan. “Folk music of Rajasthan is unique, as we use indigenous instruments. Every tribe has a typical instrument of their own.

Dada Khan describes the khartal that he plays, castanets made of teak and sheesham wood. “The four wooden pieces are not attached like the cymbals and hence playing a khartal needs skill. It is used by tribes in the Barmer and Jaisalmer regions.”

Showing a stringed instrument called ‘kamaicha’ that resembles a tampura, Bhauru Khan proudly says, “This kamaicha is 700 years old. It belongs to our family and still is in good condition. Made of mango wood and covered with deer skin, it has five iron strings and is a symbol of our community.” The dholak, a hollow drum covered with animal skin, and the morchand are also used in Sufi music. “Morchand is a mouth organ, shaped like a peacock, and is played by shepherds in the desert,” says Ghazi Khan.

While most Sufi songs are in Urdu, the Rajasthani folk songs are in local dialects like Marwari. “Though we are Muslims, we also sing Meera bhajans,” says Ghazi Khan, “and the Kalbelia Hindu tribes dance for our songs. Art transcends differences.”

Indra, who has learnt the Kalbelia dance from her mother, acknowledges, “We worship snakes and are from Pali district. Kalbelia is a snake dance and for the swift movements you need a flexible body.” […]

Source: The Hindu : Arts / Music : Treat for the senses
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Date Visited: Thu Mar 29 2012 23:26:23 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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