12th edition of World Sacred Spirit Festival closes leaving Jodhpur on a spiritual high

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Jodhpur: The World Sacred Spirit Festival (WSSF), a celebration of spiritual music from around the globe, run by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, comes to an end after three days of weaving musical magic.

Day 2, Saturday, was the longest at the festival held at the Mehrangarh Fort. Spiritual music enthusiasts gathered to see the sunrise and enjoy a blissful morning at Jaswant Thada. French clarinetist Yom Guillaume Humery played in the Klezmer musical tradition of Ashkenazi Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. He performed haunting melodies like ‘The Rabi’s Disciple’ and a Kurdish prayer for the dead. The second act was the traditional Rajasthani folk trio, the Algoza ensemble, led by Habib Khan, a senior maestro who plays the ancient double flute wind instrument. He was accompanied by Shakur, Habib’s son and Barkat Khan. To close off the morning show, both the groups came into collaboration, lending the music a unique flavour.

Commenting on the festival, Karni Jasol, Director, Mehrangarh Museum Trust said, “World Sacred Spirit Festival (WSSF) 2019 showcased more than 150 artists from around the world. Recognized as one of the finest music festival in the country, the festival was attended by discerning audience from India and abroad. The magical setting of the Mehrangarh fort and diverse sacred music traditions from around the world positions WSSF as an enriching experience making its popularity grow year after year. We are looking forward to curating the 2020 festival and presenting yet another world-class festival experience in Jodhpur.”

Just like the day before, the forenoon events were held at the Chokelao Garden within the fort premises. Guests were treated to Derun, the snake healing dance of Nayiks, as they returned for another day of music. The snake-bite healers from the old Shaivite community took to the stage dancing to the rhythm of a hand-held drum. Then it was time to travel to western Asia, as four beautiful women from Anatolia, namely Petra Nachtmanova, Eléonore Fourniau, Gülay Hacer Toruk and Cangül Kanat took to the stage. Giving a new perspective to the music from Turkey, their project Telli Turnalar, sings in Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian using the instrument saz, traditionally used in the spiritual music of the region. They played mystical melodies as well as tunes of social significance like Kurdish wedding songs.

Next up was the project named Raitila which includes performers from Manganiyar and Langa communities of Rajasthan. The crowd soon took up their tunes celebrating seasons, birth and Sufism. The inebriating mix of rhythms and melody created by kartal, sarangui and captivating vocals represented the power of folk grooves as people started to step to it. The dancing mood only got stronger as these folk artists were soon joined on stage by flamenco guitarist Jackson Scot and Pablo Dominguez on cajon. They gave the crowd a sample of what to expect at the after party on the same night where they would perform again.

The first session post lunch was the performance by students from the Langa musical camp, alongside their elders. Veterans like Askar Khan and Kadar Khan guided youngsters who were making their stage debut performing on vocal and the sarangi.

The making of a night

The evening events started at the restored lake at Jaswant Thada. The serenity of the ecosystem, graced by migratory birds, was further enhanced by a classical music performance. While the first day of the festival featured a young Carnatic music practitioner, the second day featured a young Khayal talent, Mohammad Aman from Jaipur. A short introduction on the Khayal music tradition, which developed around early to mid 1700s, was given to the uninitiated before the quartet, also consisting of Zakir Hussain, Mujaffar Rehman and Zafar Mohammad, took to the dais. Following the traditional style, the performers, decided to start with Raag Madhuvanti. Hailing from the same family, their shared connection showed through in the music they played and the well-executed, long vocal recitals left the crowd breathless, if not the artist. As the sun went down, the team followed up with renditions in raag yaman and khamaj.

The much awaited event of the night was the tale of Rajasthani princess and mystic poet, Meera Bai told by 40 Rajasthani and international artists. The organizational marvel saw action split onto two stages in the quaint Zenana Deodi Courtyard, with the light team doing their magic to highlight a multitude of performers moving on and off the stage. A soothing theatrical narrative shedding light on the events in the saint’s life ran throughout the performance which featured the whirling dance of Gair dancers, Manganiyar and Langa musicians, and beautiful ghoomar dancers alongside international acts like the Ingie qanun orchestra and Uyghur origin dancer Mukadasi Mijiti.

The night returned to a classical aura with the sound of sitar played by Shujaat Khan who hails from the family with gifted musicians like Ustad Inayat Khan and Ustad Vilayat Khan. Starting with an alaap, the quintet, also including three tablas and a sarangi, went on to arouse people’s ‘wahs’ with speed and dexterity, all the while keeping the mood light and melodic with the timeless poetry of Sufi saints Kabir and Amir Khusrau. They closed the night at the main courtyard with the ghazal tumhaare shahr ka mausam bada suhana lage.
But, the night was still young at the WSSF, as people headed to Salim Kot for the After Party. Two-acts lined up for the night were a collaboration of Raitilia (including Manganiyar and Langa musicians) with flamenco guitarist Jackson Scot and Pablo Dominguez, who had performed at noon. Bringing a spike in the energy to cater to a crowd in party mood, they played music that would challenge any DJ. The cajon, dholak and kartal worked together to keep the people dancing as a ghoomar dancer came on to the stage as a cheerleader. Later on, the electronic-roots music project DuOud came behind the console to play some computer generated rhythms paired with spiritual music played on the traditional instrument, oud. The duo behind the music, Edouard Smadja and Mehdi Chenais, infected the crowd with their energy and strong grooves, as people danced away into wild abandon.

The last main event at the 12th edition of World Sacred Spirit Festival was a Sufi morning on Sunday with renowned Manganiyar singer, Sawan Khan. He was accompanied for the sunrise show by an equally famous Ghewar Khan on the string instrument, kamaicha. Together, they performed the poetry of Sufi saints like Bulleh Shah and Shah Latif as the first light shone off the marble of the Jaswant Thada. The music literally drove people into a trance, was the perfect note to end three days of journey through various spiritual musicscapes.

The main events will be followed by additional programs which includes a visit to the Barnava village, an abode of traditional Langa musicians. Participants will get to interact with the resident musicians which will be followed by movie screening and dinner.

For More details, click on the following link below

Festival website – http://worldsacredspiritfestival.org

Festival page- https://www.facebook.com/World-Sacred-Spirit-Festival-344384892244791/

Mehrangarh Museum Trust website – http://mehrangarh.org