Music flows quietly here


HARMONIOUS Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is one of the performers at the festival

HARMONIOUS Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is one of the performers at the festival  

December is the month of festivities in Bidar. Musicians of international repute descend on Manik Nagar in Humnabad taluk. They perform at the Manik Prabhu Mandir, during the Datta Jayanti celebrations for 10 days in the first fortnight of the month. This has been the unbroken tradition of the place which goes back to 159 years.

Music from this hamlet of hardly a 1,000 people reverberates across the country. Nearly two lakh devotees from the farthest corners of India come here to enjoy the music and participate in the celebrations. Sri Manik Prabhu Samsthan organises the concerts.

This year's performers include Grammy-award winner Vishwamohan Bhatt, Rajan Mishra and Sajan Mishra, Padmabhushan N. Rajam, Ronu Majumdar, dhrupad singers Gundecha brothers, Ulhas Kashalkar who represents the Gwalior and Jaipur gharanas, Malini Rajurkar known for her tappa and tarana singing, Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande of the Jaipur-Atrauli tradition, Khayal singer Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Sangeeta Katti and kathak dancers Mangala and Raghavraj Bhatt. The highlight would be the singing by octogenarian Pandit Yashwant Bua Joshi, one of the senior-most exponents of the Gwalior gharana. The Samsthan has honoured him with a title of Samsthan Darbari Gayak. He has been singing in the Samsthan for the last five decades.

This festival will be on between December 5 to 16. Music sessions will go on all through the night, each day of the festival. Sri Manik Prabhu, a reformer saint who founded the Sakalamata Siddhantha, started the Samsthan in 1845. The Samsthan's musical heritage started from the first year itself. The founding fathers of Indian music such as Abdul Karim Khan and Vishnu Digambar Paluskar have performed here. Senior proponents of classical music such as Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, and Hariprasad Chourasia, and star performers such as Zakir Hussein and Lata Mangeshkar, have also rendered service at the Mandir. "Almost all those whom you want to listen to in your lifetime, have been here at least once," recalls Dnyanraj Manik Prabhu, secretary of the Samsthan.

The Samsthan is a place for secular worship. It is considered holy by the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. The Muslim devotees believe Manik Prabhu was the incarnation of the Sufi saint Mehboob Subhani. Manik Prabhu's birth and death anniversaries are celebrated during the Datta Jayanti Utsav.

This year, the festivities are special. The diamond jubilee celebrations of Sri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu, ascending the throne of the Samsthan coincide with the Datta Jayanti.

Sri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu took charge when he was six. He is sixty -six now. The religious Ashram has evolved into an institution of social change in the last six decades. The Samsthan now runs 19 educational - cultural institutions including schools for the visually challenged in Humnabad and Raichur and an orphanage.

A charity hospital is also coming up in Manik Nagar.