Amir Khusro, Mira Bai’s verses reverberate at Pushkar’s sacred ghats

Pushkar (Rajasthan), Nov 24 (IANS) After two unforgettable nights of enchanting mystical music, the final day of Shree Cement The Sacred began on a highly enriching note with Hindustani vocalist Vidya Shah enthralling music lovers and devotees at the Pushkar ghats here with her mellifluous voice.

Organised by Teamwork Arts, the third and final day of the music and spirituality festival, which began on November 22, gave yet another memorable treat to the attendees who had gathered again at the Raj Bohra ghat, near the sacred Pushkar lake, which also hosted the opening night of the event.

Exhibiting a strong stage presence with her soothing yet commanding voice and interactive nature, Vidya soon began to build a strong connection with the attendees at the ghat.

Many devotees, present at the ghat for a holy dip, also opted to sit there and enjoy Vidya’s performance with much intrigue and wonder.

What was truly magical about Vidya’s enrapturing performance was her versatility and choice of songs. On one hand, she was singing Mira Bai’s devotional ‘padas’ (verses), written for Lord Krishna, and on the other, she sang Sufi devotional music.

It was her range of voice, her tonality and the clarity of the words that struck a chord with the public. The quaint backdrop of the lake, with its shimmering water and devotees taking bath in the lake, further enriched the mystifying atmosphere of Vidya’s performance.

The moment when Vidya began singing a 15th century devotional verse from the Bhakti movement, it felt as if time stopped and the entire ghat with its antiquated atmosphere seemed to belong to another era.

By that time, a lot of pilgrims gathered around the stage to watch the surreal performance.

A rural woman even placed a Rs.10 note on the podium, as a mark of respect, much to the artist’s amusement. But that was the beauty of the whole area: the sheer innocence and purity of the people, which could hardly ever be found in a metropolis.

Moving on, Vidya got the crowd on its feet with her rendition of “Dama dam mast kalandar”, also performed earlier by the Jaisalmer Boys on Monday at the sand dunes here.

The crowd stood up and began clapping and singing the catchy chorus along with Vidya.

Soon thereafter, Vidya exhibited yet another example of her versatility with a rendition of Amir Khusro’s verse “Mohe apne rang me rang de…”, where the great Sufi poet-musician refers to the ‘maula’ as the one who would colour his devotee in a spiritual hue.

Vidya decided to bring her exemplary performance to a close with “Raghupati raghav raja ram” and the entire crowd chimed in to sing Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan. But the end was not yet nigh.

The crowd, totally mesmerised by Vidya’s singing prowess, requested her for another track to which she obliged.

Vidya sang “Vaishnava jana to”, yet another popular Hindu bhajan, composed by the 15th century poet-saint Narsinh Mehta, much to the audience’s delight.

As her performance finally came to an end, the crowd was beguiled with this stunning performance, wishing for more such performances in the foreseeable future.

Later in the night, qawwal Sarfaraz Raza, sitarist Azim Ahmed Alvi and Spanish ensemble La Grand Chapelle concluded the festival at the Ajmer Fort.

At the end, it could be said that with Shree Cement The Sacred, spiritual music got a much bigger platform in one of the oldest cultural destinations of the country, which is otherwise renowned for the camel fair and its temples.

(The writer is in Pushkar at the invitation of the organiser. He can be contacted at ankit.s@ians.in)

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