Central Asian women bards sing about life and morals at Sufi fest

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 23, 2013 16:10 hrs

Jodhpur, Feb 23 (IANS) Music lovers at the sixth edition of the World Sufi Spirit Festival (WSSF) were welcomed with a melodious performance of traditional, philosophical Central Asian music by bardic divas from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Ulzan Baibussynova, Raushan Orazbaeva and Nadira Pirmatova represent the rich and diverse traditions of Central Asian bards. Their songs interweave motifs of the journey of life and its moral choices, stressing on the trials faced while deciding between right and wrong.

While the first two are from Kazakhstan, Pirmatova is from Uzbekistan.

Baibussynova is a singer of "Jyraou" or the Kazakh epic song, which used to be reserved for men. Her mentor Chamchat Toulepova was the first to open a Jyraou school for women, and she was one of Toulepova's earnest disciples.

The traditional music has been passed on from generation to generation in the sprawling country.

"Our music is a symbolic story... people's stories about life and the journey thereafter. It is philosophical and depicts an understanding of morals and righteousness. It highlights the trial and tribulations one faces when making a choice between right and wrong," Baibussyunova told IANS through a translator.

"Being a woman and getting into music was a natural progression. It is an artistic way of revolting against the male-dominated customs and traditions," said Baibussynova, who plays dombra - a long-necked lute and a musical string instrument.

She started learning music from the age of six and pursued her education in music at the Conservatory of Almaty, where she did a thesis about the philosophy of the Jyraou.

About her visit to Jodhpur for the music fest, Baibussynovae said: "This is my first trip to India and I feel overwhelmed. I am well versed with the Indian Ragas and the classical dance forms like Bharatnatyam and Kathak. Performing at this festival is very special to me.

"It came as a great platform to showcase the Kazakh traditions. This fort is also symbolic. We Jyraous have been singing for the badshahs (kings) and the backdrop of this fort resonates with the traditional set up back home where I belong," she said.

Hosted by the royal family of Jodhpur, the fest started Friday at the Mehrangarh Fort. It will culminate Feb 27 at Ahichhatragarh Fort in Nagaur.

The festival has a mix of music traditions from various parts of the world. Performers from Egypt, Turkey, France, Pakistan, Mongolia and Afghanistan are here to showcase their talent. From India, musicians from Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are participating in the fest.

(Aastha Khurana can be contacted at aastha.k@ians.in)

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