A 100-year-old man, with his white, well-combed hair matching his crisp white dhoti, found solace in the ‘sur’, ‘taal’ and ‘ragas’, listening with rapt attention at the Tansen Music Festival here, signifying the long-standing love that music lovers have had for this 93-year-old gala which celebrates the legendary musician of Mughal emperor Akbar’s court.
If there were such music buffs who have grown up listening to Indian classical music in this culturally-rich city of Madhya Pradesh, there were also tiny tots who were being described as “Tansens in the making”.
“I have been coming for this festival for almost my whole life perhaps,” the centenarian, Veerendra Singh Rajawat, said.
“Belonging to a land where a great artiste like Tansen was born, how can you not listen to music and not have knowledge about it? Almost every household has its children learning music from the grassroot level. We are very proud of it. Music runs in our blood,” said the old but sprightly man.
A five-year-old boy, who sat near the stage while eminent artistes like flautist Chetan Joshi and Iranian tombak and duff player Fakhruddin Gafari played, was in training to “become someone as great as Tansen because he wanted to make his parents proud”, an organiser said.
The audience here has grown up listening to the best of musicians every year, and from there comes their ear for music. And mind you, they immediately reprimand a musician on a wrong note.
Some enthusiastic listeners would reach the venue — the mausoleum where lie the graves of Tansen and his Sufi master, Shaikh Muhammad Ghaus — at 10 a.m., while some landed up in the evening after wrapping up their work and household chores. They come with their children and spouses and stay on as late as 2 a.m.
For some patrons, the live music experience was a chance to teach the younger lot too.
One patron was seen teaching ‘teen taal’ to his toddler. He said: “We have been bringing our child here for the past three years as we want her to understand our roots.”
The Tansen Samaroh is held at different venues, including the Gujari Fort, Tansen’s burial site, and Behat village, where Tansen was born.
The night aura of the festival was enhanced by the warmth of tea, which helped in beating the winter chill. It was like a ‘chai par charcha’ session at a place where foodies could enjoy ‘gajjak’ (a jaggery-based sweet) and get a taste of honey right from the bee’s honeycomb.
“Thanks to Behat being one of the venues where the music festival has been taking place, the children learn a lot. Some of the participants include our village’s children too. Around 15 boys are a part of this festival. They are all learning from a man who hails from Kolkata. He teaches them here,” village head Arvind Singh said.
He had a suggestion for the state government.
“The music festival should either commence from here (Behat) or end here. Having this place as an in-between venue is not fair. This is where Tansen was born, so why give it so less importance?” he questioned in reference to the lesser number of sessions at the village.