Few voices to save Mai Banno's musical heritage
The rich musical heritage of Mai Banno, considered the goddess of music, may be lost due to neglect, if the Punjab government does not take steps soon.
According to legend, Mai Banno was as skilled a singer as Tansen, the great musician in the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar. It is believed that she could cause rains by singing Raga Megh Malhaar, and light lamps by singing Deepak Raga.
"Mai Banno was one of the greatest musicians," Gurnam Singh, chairperson of Gurmat Sangeet department of Punjabi University here, said. "But the way her musical history has been neglected is of serious concern. How long would we continue to neglect our cultural heritage?"
Except a temple along the Zirakpur-Bathinda highway in memory of Mai Banno, no other effort has been made by the government or the local administration to promote her musical history. The temple too, is in a poor condition although it is visited every day by a large number of music lovers and singers.
"Although every music lover knows about Mai Banno, only a few know the history," said Gurnam.
The chairperson has urged the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and the state tourism and cultural affairs minister Swaran Singh Phillaur to push for a project to promote the history of Mai Banno.
The history available with the Gurmat Sangeet department talks about an incident in which Tansen after singing Deepak Raga in Akbar's court felt thirsty. His thirst was quenched by Mai Banno: she was sitting by the well in Banur and offered water to Tansen. She then sang Raga Megh Malhaar and brought rain.
Tansen had later narrated the incident to Akbar, who then visited Mai Banno, and named the town, Banur, after her.