Hundreds of years ago, Yusuf Khan’s ancestors roamed the deserts of Rajasthan, playing their percussion instruments as accompaniments to tales narrated from Indian mythology. Today, this resident of Munguska, Rajasthan is using a PC to digitise and immortalise the rich musical tradition he inherited from his father Umar Farooqi and grandfather Jahur Khan Mewati, a bhapang player from the Mewat region of Rajasthan, whose sudden finding and consequent musical contribution to a Hindi film sprung him and the bhapang out of obscurity.

Mewat, as it turns out, is brimming with these hidden treasures – local music traditions that only reach a small population of people. Sadly, their popularity is fading in these local areas as well.

This website is an attempt to digitally document the history, heritage and folk music of the Mewat reagion.

With the help of New Delhi-based organisation Digital Empowerment Foundation, Yusuf Khan in 2010 learnt to operate a computer and soon he was trained enough to manage a digital resource centre where he offered digital literacy classes to community children and digital services (such as photocopying, printing, scanning, filing of applications, etc) to community members.

He also began to use this two-computer unit to digitally document and archive folk tales and folk songs. Though this website started as an attempt to digitally document the history, heritage and folk music composed by Jahur Khan Mewati and his descendants, it aims t digitally capture the larger Mewati community.

Mewat is a historical region of Haryana and Rajasthan states in northwestern India. The region roughly corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Matsya (ancesters of Meenas), founded in the 5th century BCE. Mewati dialect, a slight variant of the Haryanvi and Rajasthani dialects of Hindi, is spoken in rural areas of the region. Mewati Gharana is a distinctive style of Indian classical music.

The Mewati Gharana is a musical apprenticeship clan of Hindustani classical music founded in the late 19th century by Ghagge Nazir Khan of Jodhpur. With its own distinct aesthetic and stylistic views and practices, the gharana is an offshoot of the Gwalior Gharana and acquired its name after the region from which its founding exponent hailed: the Mewat region of Rajasthan.

The musical ancestors of Ghagge Nazir Khan, the fountainhead of the Mewati Gharana, were exponents and descendants of the Gwalior Gharana. In seeking musical patronage, these descendants of the Gwalior style separated from their original clan and settled in what is now western and southern Rajasthan. Being isolated from the mainstream Gwalior musicians, the Rajasthan-based branch of the Gharana developed new stylistic forms and aesthetic principles as a result of separation. Eventually, these changes resulted in the Mewati gayaki and became distinct although reminiscent of the Gwalior style. It is for this reason that the Mewati Gharana is considered both musically and genealogically different from the Gwalior style.

The Bhapang is a variable tension string instrument, affectionately known as the “talking drum” from Rajasthan. It is used in Lok Geet, an Indian folk music tradition.

The instrument is used both for accompaniment, and solos. It is played all over North India and is unique to South Asia. The Bhapang consists of a small cylindrical drum with an open end. At the center of the skin, a string is fixed. The player holds the drum between his upper body, and under his arm, while the hand holds a little bamboo stick fixed to the end of the string. To produce different pitches, the string is stretched and relaxed by the player. (Information from Asian Music Circuit) Generally, the Muslims play the Bhapang in Alwar (Rajasthan) on the occasion of Shiva Ratri (Birth Day celebration of Lord Shiva of Hindus).

Most of the music is not considered entertainment; it’s a way of life for religious ceremonies, marriages, births, deaths, and any other large community function.  In regards to the festival, the performers come from all over Rajasthan and perform for each other. All these different people can act as a brotherhood, in order to make sure their own traditions can stay alive and respected. Generally, most artists would only perform in their own village settings, but traditional settings are beginning to fall-apart. The old ways of being a musician and making money is no longer working within these communities. Sadly, the Mughal Rajasthani people cannot sustain themselves this way against the new moderniwed India.

+ About

Hundreds of years ago, Yusuf Khan’s ancestors roamed the deserts of Rajasthan, playing their percussion instruments as accompaniments to tales narrated from Indian mythology. Today, this resident of Munguska, Rajasthan is using a PC to digitise and immortalise the rich musical tradition he inherited from his father Umar Farooqi and grandfather Jahur Khan Mewati, a bhapang player from the Mewat region of Rajasthan, whose sudden finding and consequent musical contribution to a Hindi film sprung him and the bhapang out of obscurity.

Mewat, as it turns out, is brimming with these hidden treasures – local music traditions that only reach a small population of people. Sadly, their popularity is fading in these local areas as well.

This website is an attempt to digitally document the history, heritage and folk music of the Mewat reagion.

With the help of New Delhi-based organisation Digital Empowerment Foundation, Yusuf Khan in 2010 learnt to operate a computer and soon he was trained enough to manage a digital resource centre where he offered digital literacy classes to community children and digital services (such as photocopying, printing, scanning, filing of applications, etc) to community members.

He also began to use this two-computer unit to digitally document and archive folk tales and folk songs. Though this website started as an attempt to digitally document the history, heritage and folk music composed by Jahur Khan Mewati and his descendants, it aims t digitally capture the larger Mewati community.

+ Mewat

Mewat is a historical region of Haryana and Rajasthan states in northwestern India. The region roughly corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Matsya (ancesters of Meenas), founded in the 5th century BCE. Mewati dialect, a slight variant of the Haryanvi and Rajasthani dialects of Hindi, is spoken in rural areas of the region. Mewati Gharana is a distinctive style of Indian classical music.

+ Mewati Gharana

The Mewati Gharana is a musical apprenticeship clan of Hindustani classical music founded in the late 19th century by Ghagge Nazir Khan of Jodhpur. With its own distinct aesthetic and stylistic views and practices, the gharana is an offshoot of the Gwalior Gharana and acquired its name after the region from which its founding exponent hailed: the Mewat region of Rajasthan.

The musical ancestors of Ghagge Nazir Khan, the fountainhead of the Mewati Gharana, were exponents and descendants of the Gwalior Gharana. In seeking musical patronage, these descendants of the Gwalior style separated from their original clan and settled in what is now western and southern Rajasthan. Being isolated from the mainstream Gwalior musicians, the Rajasthan-based branch of the Gharana developed new stylistic forms and aesthetic principles as a result of separation. Eventually, these changes resulted in the Mewati gayaki and became distinct although reminiscent of the Gwalior style. It is for this reason that the Mewati Gharana is considered both musically and genealogically different from the Gwalior style.

+ Bhapang

The Bhapang is a variable tension string instrument, affectionately known as the “talking drum” from Rajasthan. It is used in Lok Geet, an Indian folk music tradition.

The instrument is used both for accompaniment, and solos. It is played all over North India and is unique to South Asia. The Bhapang consists of a small cylindrical drum with an open end. At the center of the skin, a string is fixed. The player holds the drum between his upper body, and under his arm, while the hand holds a little bamboo stick fixed to the end of the string. To produce different pitches, the string is stretched and relaxed by the player. (Information from Asian Music Circuit) Generally, the Muslims play the Bhapang in Alwar (Rajasthan) on the occasion of Shiva Ratri (Birth Day celebration of Lord Shiva of Hindus).

Most of the music is not considered entertainment; it’s a way of life for religious ceremonies, marriages, births, deaths, and any other large community function.  In regards to the festival, the performers come from all over Rajasthan and perform for each other. All these different people can act as a brotherhood, in order to make sure their own traditions can stay alive and respected. Generally, most artists would only perform in their own village settings, but traditional settings are beginning to fall-apart. The old ways of being a musician and making money is no longer working within these communities. Sadly, the Mughal Rajasthani people cannot sustain themselves this way against the new moderniwed India.