Art defies boundary. It crosses over every conceivable limit the human mind can think of. If art is the vast universe, music is its magnanimous spirit. We have heard before, music is the thread that weaves through geographies, languages and cultures. It does more. It purifies your senses, and even makes you a better person. If words make you think, music makes you feel. It fosters innocent awe and appreciation and awakens the child in you who wants to dance. These thoughts come alive when you meet Manganiyar folk artiste Mame Khan. An easy, delightful conversation with the Sufi-folk singer–about the oral tradition of the Manganiyars, the legacy of their virtuosity and the diverse cultural amalgam they embody–kindles your awe and inspiration. And the child in you gets up to dance. Excerpts from an exclusive one-on-one with Soulveda:
Tell us about the heritage of the Manganiyar community that has, for years, been one with Rajasthan’s rich culture?
There are many legends around the origin of our community. What I have learnt from my father is a story that goes like this. When Hasan and Husain were born to Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, two brothers had sung sehra (congratulatory song) in their honour. Out of joy and appreciation for their song, Bibi Fatima gave them her necklace and the title of ‘Manganiyar’ with a blessing that they would get a special place in kings’ courts, singing and taking this tradition forward. ‘Manganiyar’ is also known to have originated from ‘mahaguniar’ which translates to a treasure of talent.
“Music has no divide and religious boundaries. Just as much as we sing in praise of the Hindu deities, we also sing songs of Mira Bai, Kabir, and Sufi greats like Bulleh Shah and Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.”
“When we sing Sufi songs, and get into those intricate ragas, there’s that trance-like feeling we experience. Being in that space is a purely spiritual experience.”