A single string of “ektara” and powerful words Baul singers for hundreds of years have spread the message of love and spirituality in Bengal.
A Baul singer, photo by Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak
Nagore is famous for Sufi saint Syed Abdul Qadir popularly known as Qadir Vali. Syed Abdul Qadir born in Manikpur in present day UP in the year 1504 (910 hijri). Around the age of 18 he left home seeking a spiritual teacher. He found a spiritual mentor in Mohammad Ghouse in Gwalior. After doing Hajj he landed in Ponnani in Malabar and traveled to Maldives, Sri Lanka and finally made Nagore in Tamil Nadu his home where he died in 1570 (978 hijri). His beautiful dargah was built years later with its unique white minarets.
Periya Minara at Nagore Dargah built by the Tanjore King.
Dargah’s influence over Tamil Muslims was so much that when a number of them migrated to Singapore they built a replica of the dargah for their spiritual needs.
Nagore Dargah in Singapore. [Photo by dozafar]
Lately, music of the Nagore Dargah is getting international recognition thanks to the Laya Project which has produced a CD with seven songs that can be purchased here:
Videos of the two of the songs are here:
Urdu song, that is not part of the CD:
Days after the recent skirmishes at the Line of Control, when the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan was threatened, an alternative reconciliation was underway in Lahore. Music became the metaphor of shared ground between the two countries, challenging divides between them that can become violent. Continue reading Beyond Borders – With Shubha Mudgal And Tina Sani
Have you ever heard of someone refusing Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan? These are the highest civilian awards in India after Bharat Ratna.
Vilayat Khan, Sitar genius was one such person. He refused Padma Shri in 1964 and Padma Bhushan in 1968 because he thought the selection committee was Ã¢â‚¬Å“musically incompetentÃ¢â‚¬? to judge him.
In 2000, he was awarded Padma Vibhushan and he refused again saying that he will even refuse Bharat Ratna since he deserved it before any other sitar player in the country, as he was the most talented.
Talented he was, he recorded his first music at the age of 8 and his last concert months before his death at the age of 75. A musical career spanning 67 years and maintaining his top position during all these years is no mean achievement.
He composed music for Satyajit Ray film “Jalsaghar” (1958) and Merchant- IvoryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s “The Guru” (1969).
Born into a family of musicians called Ã¢â‚¬ËœEtawah GharanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, his grandfather Imdad Khan and father Enayat Khan, were also leading sitar player of their times. His father died when Vilayat was only nine and therefore he learned most of his music from uncles and other relatives.
He was interested in becoming a singer, but his mother Bashiran Begum insisted that he has to take the responsibility of the family and take up sitar. Such strong tradition, family, and value attached to the music will help understand why he refused theses awards.
These days, when everyone is after one or the other awards and use these awards to further their career, I can understand why Vilayat Khan refused to accept these awards. He considered these as insults since they were either not given by competent people or awarded first to people who were less deserving than him. If he was the number one sitar player in the country (or in the world), it is only fair that he should get these awards before any other Sitar player.
“This is an insult to me. If there is any award for sitar in India, I must get it first,” he said alleging that the Sangeet Natak Academy had been influenced by lobby, politics and favouritism while deciding the awardees.
“There has always been a story of wrong time, wrong person and wrong award in this country,” a visibly enraged Khan said at a crowded press meet here.
Pointing out that sitar and its `Parampara’ had seen the longest ever tradition in his family and his ancestors had chiselled the `Gayaki Ang’, crucial to the playing of the instrument, Khan said no other `gharana’ was older than his in this arena.
“Four generations, both from my paternal and maternal sides, have made sitar their religion and today the entire nation is copying our work,” he said.
— The Hindu, 8 Feb 2000.
When artists lobby for awards and always eager to win any recognition, he for one refused to accept them just because of his honour. A generation later, people will never understand how someone can refuse an award. For men of principles and tradition their honour is all that matters to them, more than any award or recognition.
Ustad Vilayat Khan, earned love and respect from fellow musicians and his fans and that was more important to him than any award.
He did accept special decorations of “Bharat Sitar Samrat” by the Artistes Association of India and “Aftab-e-Sitar” (Sun of the Sitar) from the President of India.
Born August 8th, 1928 in Mymensign in undivided Bengal, Ustad Vilayat Khan passed away on March 13th, 2004 in Mumbai.