For centuries now, Rajasthan has had a strong and vibrant musical tradition ranging from the Maand which was part of the court tradition, to a range of music performed by hereditary musicians and performers, who have a role in the ceremonial, devotional, entertainment, and everyday lives of the people. Among these hereditary castes are the Manganiars and Langas who inhabit the western desert regions in the districts of Barmer.
After witnessing folk traditions of Rajasthan, Assam, Bengal, Gujarat and Goa over the past four years, The National Centre for the Performing Arts, NCPA, India's premiere art and culture institutions will showcase narrative traditions from Rajasthan which have never been performed on stage, as part of the NCPA Living Traditions: Festival of Indian Folk Forms on March 1 &2, 2013, 7 pm, Experimental Theatre, NCPA.
This two-day festival will attempt to provide a glimpse into the myriad forms and structures of these performances, often defined as oral epics or heroic ballads, specially designed and curated for this event. In order to source talented musicians from the communities of Manganiar and Langa, who inhabit across the remote corners of the desert of Rajasthan, the NCPA conducted auditions in Jodhpur in collaboration with Dr. Shubha Chaudhari, Director at the Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology of the American Institute of Indian Studies, selecting 11 musicians who will present the repertoire. This is the first time that the Living Tradition series has conducted auditions to select performing musicians.
The Manganiars and Langas of Western Rajasthan have long been known for their rich vocal repertoire, highly accessible music and stage presence. These have made them very popular on the urban stage in the past decade. However, it is only part of the repertoire that has developed for stage, and thus little of the repertoire gets heard by urban audiences. Not all Manganiars and Langas are globe trotters and fusion artistes. This tradition is alive in the villages, and is part of the jajmani system, where musicians are attached to their jajmans or patrons and perform musical duties for them in exchange for support in cash and kind. There are songs for all life cycle events, of which the halariyas for birth and the vast repertoire of wedding songs have largely contributed to the stage music. They also sing devotional songs, panegyric ballads to the Rajput patrons, and a host of other genres.
An area that is less known and explored is the ballads, the vartas and kathas which are the basis of many songs. Among the Manganiars as well as the Langas there is the rich storytelling tradition of what they call vartas and kathas, which is a blend of narration and song. These in many cases, have yielded compositions which are now performed as songs. Western Rajasthan also shares with Sindh oral epics such as Sassi Punnu and Umar Marvi. Besides it has its own similar oral epics or ballads such as the Dhola Maru, Rupanderibel, and so on. The singing is accompanied by instruments, like the sindhi sarangi, kamaicha, and murli.
March 1 will feature the Manganiars with the katha sand ballads such as Dhola Maru. March 2 will feature the Sarangiya Langas with the varta story telling form which intersperses narration and song. This day will also feature an unusual performance of the Surnaiya Langas who play only wind instruments. This is a ballad form which is sung and played on the murli. Performing Artistes include: Sankara Khan - Narrator; Chanan Khan - kamaicha and vocal; Multan Khan - vocal; Hakam Khan - vocal and kamaicha; Kadar Khan - vocal and sindhi sarangi; Jameen Khan - vocal; Asghar Khan - vocal; Ilahu Khan - vocal and algoza; Murad Khan - vocal and algoza; Kutla Khan - dholak; Ramzan Khan - ghara. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Suvarnalata Rao, Head - Programming (Indian Music), NCPA, says, "Our focus this year is on a different Rajasthan - on the lesser-known and lesser-seen traditions. The genres that we look at in Living Traditions are not really mainstream in the sense that not everyone is familiar with the repertoire which is actually part of musicians' hereditary repertoire.
For more information visit http://www.mslindia.co.in/