Hariharpur is now left with few musicians. In fact, it might lose them all. The inconspicuous village in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh district is known for it’s more-than-century-old tradition of classical music: forms such as Thumri, Dadra, Jhoola and Kajri.
Next week, musicians from the Hariharpur Gharana will perform at a two-day Azamgarh music festival scheduled for next week in Delhi. Performers include locals and those who hail from Hariharpur.
Several exponents of the Banaras gharana, including renowned Hindustani classical singer Pandit Chhunnalal Mishra, hail from Hariharpur.
Due to the dwindling audience for classical music, a majority of the artists in the village have migrated to cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata where they work with musical troupes, Bollywood music composers and All India Radio. “Four people from every family have migrated to mahanagar (metros),” said 66-year-old Shambhunath Mishra, a tabla player who was teaches music at a government school in Azamgarh. “Breaking the tradition, we now perform bhajans and Bhojpuri songs also,” added Mishra.
According to local legend, approximately 300 years ago, brothers Harnam Das and Sarnam Das, both musicians, performed before Azam Shah, then the ruler of Azamgarh. An impressed Shah gifted the duo seven villages. They were given the land so they could use the space to teach music. Since then, the people of Hariharpur, which is believed to have got its name from Harnam Das, have kept that rich tradition of music alive.
Every morning, villagers gather for riyaz or practice. Although most of the gurus have moved out of the village, the children continue to practice vocals and instruments. “We ensure that there are five to six musical programs in the village every year around Holi, Basant Panchmi and Dushera,” said Aajay Mishra, a vocalist who divides his time between Hariharpur and Mumbai.“This way, children remain motivated.”
In 2011, SK Mishra, chairman of the Indian Trust of Rural Heritage and Development (ITRHD) discovered the village.Two years later, the trust invited selected artists to perform at the Azamagarh Music Festival.
The Azamgarh Festival 2016, Alliance Francaise, 72, Lodhi Estate, October 19-20, 6pm to 8pm, Entry free.
Want to read more weekend stories and long-form features? Visit http://www.hindustantimes.com/weekend