Manganhar Music Festival: Manganhar legacy lives on in Tharparkar musicians
LAHORE: Musicians and singers from Tharparkar performed in the Manganhar Music Festival at the Alhamra Art Centre on Tuesday. Action Aid and the Folklore Society of Pakistan organised the festival.
Naila Baloch talking to Daily Times said the Manganhar folk community had inherited an old musical tradition through their culture. “However, these people are hardly known in Pakistan and have been stigmatised for this profession. As a result many people in Manganhar have disassociated themselves from singing,” she said.
Ms Baloch said the Folklore Society and Action Aid were collaborating to revive the musical heritage of the community. “We have to restore the dignity and pride the Manganhar community deserves,” she said.
Ms Baloch said that the Manganhar people live in both Pakistan and India and like so many other divided communities, have close relations on both sides of the border. In India, most of the Manganhar live in the Jaisalmer and the Barmer districts in Rajasthan. In Pakistan the majority of the Manganhar reside in the Tharparkar district in Sindh.
Ms Baloch said the Manganhar community on either side of the border was Muslim Muslim. Their family genealogies can be traced back to the 16th and 17th centuries when they converted to Islam. The teachings of the Sufis saints attracted the community along with some of their jajmaan (patrons) into the fold of Islam.
She said that even after conversion, the community continued to perform as musicians for the Hindu Rajputs. They used to sing on the birth, death, and marriage of the children of their patrons and on other social and cultural occasions as well. Their repertoire consisted of mystic poetry, folksongs and bhagti (devotional) themes.
Dr Fauzia said that Action Aid had released CDs and DVDs of the performances of the Thar based artistes. Action Aid had begun to motivate Manganhar’s youth to re-learn traditional music, she said.
“We will hold annual competitions for young Manganhar performers to encourage them towards this profession,” she said. “We held our first festival in Karachi last year, which was appreciated by the media and the public. This compelled us to organise a second festival.”
The guest of honour from India Sri Kesbav Kothari said he had been associated with the Kal Sangeet Natak Academy for the last 30 years. He said the academy of folklore in India had been doing a lot in the empowerment of the Manganhar community of India. Mr Kothari said that no Indian artiste had spent as much time performing aboard as the Manganhar artistes.