1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

The Manganiyar show in Vienna – amazing performance (slide) July 10, 2008

Last night I have seen one of the most amazing and beautiful performances in my life – traditional Indian music in front of the thousands in the artistic Center of Vienna, Austria. I just did not expect such an interest to this kind of music, which really needs some “adjustment” for the Western listener…

Indian play director Roysten Abel has brought 43 Manganiyars (caste of musicians who traditionally performed for the kings of Rajastan in India) to Europe – that was not easy, he said -to get visas for 43 Muslims with the name Khan 🙂

The Manganiyar sing ballads about the kings and also Sufi poems written by the mystics.  Even though they are classified as folk musicians their traditional music is classical and it clearly indicates the roots of classical music in India. However the rawness of the folk and the complexness of classical music is what makes their music so special. They live in the deserts of Rajasthan and their style of singing is very similar to that of the Spanish Flamenco singers.

The performance was built up like a magic box:  43 musicians were seated in 36 red-curtained cubicles arranged in four horizontal rows one on top of the other; and the concert began when a single cubicle lit up and the first singer began his song. Soon another cubicle lit up and then another thus creating a dramatic and astounding build-up of musical instruments and voice as young men, children and the elderly of the Manganiyar community took the public into a world which is beyond… Actually it looked like the magic opening of the advent-calender .)

What I really enjoyed a lot was the fact that everyone around enjoyed the music same way – at the end of the performance the faces of the public where almost shining with the child-like joy! – which is rather unusual in the sophisticated West 🙂 I tell you, Indian music makes wonders, it is really the most powerful and beautiful music in the word in my opinion! And although the performance was going non-stop for 1,5 hours – it seemed to be so short and people just did not want to leave…

On top of the whole thing there was a fact that among 43 musicians there were 2 Hindus. The group was singing sufi-quawalli, praising Allah. And then the same group (41 Muslims + 2 Hindus) sang one Krishna Bhajan (Hindu religious song). Can you imagine a Christian Church chorus singing praise to Allah?

LOVE, axinia


19 Responses to “The Manganiyar show in Vienna – amazing performance (slide)”

  1. […] Manganiayr show in Vienna – amazing performance (slide) Kalavera wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptEven though they are classified as […]

  2. Thanks for this post, Axinia. I have never heard of the Manganiyar musicians before this. But I am not surprised by their secular traditions at all. Most of the cultures of India have a strong secular tradition and that is one of the greatest strengths of India. It is sad to see religious communalism and extremism (of the two largest religious communities) on the rise in India.

    // Can you imagine a Christian Church chorus singing praise to Allah? //

    As an Indian, I can imagine it because a smiliar thing has happened in Chennai! And it was not just a Christian Church chorus, but a Catholic priest!

    Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj, a Catholic priest, founder of Tamil Maiyam, an organisation with the aim of the promotion of Tamil arts, literature and culture, joined hands with Tamil music maestro Ilaiyaraaja to produce a music audio of Thiruvasagam, a collection of poems written by Manickavasagar, a 13th century devotee of Siva, in praise of the Hindu God. At the Thiruvasagam contest organised by chennaionline.com, Fr. Jegath sang some portions from the songs sung by Ilayaraja. Displaying immense musical knowledge and prowess in Tamil, Fr. Jegath regaled the audience with his audio preview of the songs.

  3. axinia Says:

    Thank you, Raj, that is a very intresting example. And, most probably very rare yet…

  4. Actually, it is a classical crossover music, Axinia, synthesising ideas from both the Indian and Western classical traditions. There are some English lyrics in it as well. Maestro Ilaiyaraaja (who also composes music for films) lead the high-profile team of artists and engineers who were involved in the project, which included the Budapest Symphony Orchestra conducted by Laszlo Kovacs, Oscar winning lyricist Stephen Schwartz, and Richard King a five-time Grammy Award-winning sound engineer. The project was coordinated by Tamil Maiyam, a registered non-profit organization in India, committed to bring out high quality productions in Tamil art, culture and literature. You can listen to a part of it on YouTube:

    Thiruvaasagam in Symphony

  5. axinia Says:

    thanks again, i will. It reminds me of a CD “Mozart in Egypt”, but i am not sure if there is some religious backgound there.

  6. swaps Says:

    Raj, good comment man.

    I am next door, but this info had to be routed via Vienna before it reached me. Funny and sad. Nonetheless, thanks to Axinia and Raj.

  7. Thanks, Swaps. Yes, though we are next door neighbours, we don’t know much about the other’s traditions in art and literature. But both our cultures do have strong secular traditions that the forces of religious communalism want to destroy 😡

  8. axinia Says:

    Hey, guys (Raj and Swaps) what do you mean by next door neighbours?

  9. We are from neighbouring states, Axinia. Swaps is from Karnataka and I am from Tamil Nadu 🙂

  10. swaps Says:

    Axinia, I live on a plateau, if I climb down south-east-wards, I land in Raj’s state.
    Our states are bitter neighbours.

    Raj dear, our animosity will live till the end of time 🙂

  11. axinia Says:

    so wich state is yours? Maharashtra?

  12. Swaps Says:

    Nope. Karnataka. You know, my hometown- Mysore- is considered by some as the yoga-capital of the world!!

  13. axinia Says:

    i was suspecting that:) you dont really look Maharashtrian 🙂

    why yoga-capital? it this possible at all – a yoga-capital?

  14. Swaps Says:

    “it this possible at all – a yoga-capital?”
    Good question Axinia. Yoga is for everyone. How true. Perhaps, what is meant is the teachers here can trace their lineage back to the original masters.(But I like the sobriquet).

    And, no matter where I go in India, the local think I belong to some other part …I love it.
    (often I am spoken to in Hindi instead of Kannada – that is sad, though).

  15. axinia Says:

    that is intresting…do you feel kind of being foreign in your country? this sounds familiar to me..

  16. Swaps Says:

    No I do not. It is the other way, I think other are NOT Indians…they just happen to be born here. Sometimes the unIndianess of fellow Indians becomes unbearable and I address them as ‘you Indians’ 🙂

    I understand what you say. So where do you belong – nowhere but everywhere?

  17. axinia Says:

    Acutally everywhere. I feel at home everywhere.

  18. Swaps dear,

    Whatever the animosity between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, I love Mysooru! It is such a wonderful place. It is a big city without the disadvantages of a big city!

  19. swaps Says:

    Raj, thanks man. You understant my home very well 🙂

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