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Bards and Ballads

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Bards and Ballads – Performance of an Endangered Musical Tradition of Western Rajasthan

Arna JharnaThar Desert Museum, Jodhpur

Press Release – March 12, 2022

Set in the picturesque grounds of the Arna Jharna Museum, on March 15, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) and the RupayanSansthan will organize a traditional musical performance—thanks to generous funding from the U.S. government—that brings together some of the best musicians of the Langa and Manganiar community.  The program will showcase their traditional, hereditary ballads to a wider audience through a curated performance. To create the traditional ambiance of a “Rihan,” the event will include a rural audience from neighboring villages, in addition to the invited audience.

The event is the result of a two-year cultural-preservation project to preserve western Rajasthani traditions that the U.S. government funded through its Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).  Through the AFCP, the United States demonstrates American leadership in the preservation of cultural heritage around the world and shows our respect for other cultures.  The U.S. State Department has disbursed over $2 million in India, since the inception of the AFCP program in 2001, for the documentation, conservation, and restoration of over twenty historic sites and monuments, including UNESCO World Heritage monuments in the heart of the national capital, New Delhi.AIIS, through its Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology, carried out the project in collaboration with Jodhpur based, RupayanSansthan. 

This musical performance will showcase a little-known aspect of the rich repertoire of the Langa and Manganiar musicians of Western Rajasthan – of gatha and Katha, best translated as ballads. The event is conceived as a “Rihan” – a term used for an informal gathering of musicians, where the musicians entertain their patrons, and the stories are told and sung late into the night. These highly endangered and vanishing music traditions present the cultural history of Rajasthan through tales of romance and valor, set to traditional Rajasthani melodies.

An important part of this project is to help the revival of these vanishing musical traditions through public performance, exposing them to wider audiences.

Under this project, young musicians have been trained to preserve their own heritage through documentation.  In addition, the project provided an opportunity for the musicians to learn from the masters of the genre.

The event will be streamed as a Facebook Live Performance.

Project Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AIIS-Documentation-of-endangered-musical-traditions-in-Western-Rajasthan

American Institute of Indian Studieshttps://www.indiastudies.org:

Rupayan Sansthan – http://www.arnajharna.org

For further information contact: Shubha Chaudhuri – Shubha.chaudhuri@aiis.edu.in

Kuldeep Kothari – rupayansansthan@gmail.com

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