A two-day festival in Delhi celebrates Azamgarh village’s musical heritage

Musicians from Azamgarh’s Hariharpur will perform in Delhi this weekend. The village has a strong tradition of Hindustani classical music and

art and culture Updated: Oct 15, 2016 08:22 IST
Danish Raza
Danish Raza
Hindustan Times
Azamgarh,Hariharpur,Hindustani classical
Arpit and Aman Mishra from the Hariharpur gharana, perform at the festival in 2015 in Delhi. (Source: ITRHD )

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.

Read more | Thumri: The feminine voice in Hindustani classical music

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.

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First Published: Oct 14, 2016 16:59 IST