Madhu Latha
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Rajastani Music

Rajastan is a living study in ethno-musicology.From the hauting melodies of the lovers to the bards and ballads of the valors of their heros, rajastani music is always heartwarming and reaches the hearts of even the ordinary soul. There are two traditional classes of Rajastani musicians in Rajastan : The Langas of the westren Rajastan are favoured mostly by the Muslim audience as they have a distinct Sufi flavour. While the manganiars have a more hindustani bent. Then there are the saperas, snake charmers who blow into the two tubed poongas, while the bhopas are priest like singers who play in the village circuit in times of sickness and poor harvest. The mirasis and jogis of Mewar are famed for their gurguling voices, the maand are highly  sophisticated folk singers, once heard only in the royal palaces.

Songs are often inspired by daily life and their music instruments range from rustic  resonators to thunderous kettledrums. Rajastani instruments are facinating devices often handicrafted by the musicians themselves. They include morchang, a hand-held trumpet, the sarangi (a popular bowed instrument), the kamayacha (a 16-stringed langa speciality that is played with a long bow of horse tail hair), the kharta (a metal castanet) is a favorite with saints and seers, the algoza of th Ajmer region is the South Asian equivalent of a bagpipe.

Where there is song there is dance and the Rajastanis are never backward in shuffling forward. The ghooma gait - a series of gentle, graceful pirouettes; the teerah taali of the kamad community in Pokaran, a boisterous dance in honour of the theft deity Baba Ramdeo. It's an unusual festival in which men play a four stringed instrument called the chau-tara while the women move with dozens of manjeeras (tiny cymbals) tied to their bodies.

In Shekawati the kacchi ghodi is skillfully performed on horses. Holding swords aloft, riders move to the beating of the drums, while a singer narrates the exploits of notorious bandits.
In Bikaner, Jasnathis, revered for their tantric powers, dance on flaming coals until the music peaks and the dancers fall into a trance.

The drum dance of Jalore sees five men with huge drums strapped around their necks accompany a sword-swallower who simultaneously juggles.

Concerts and dances are held regularly for tourists in all major cities, usually in upmarket hotels.

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