The Sacred Spirit Festival in Jodhpur is an annual event held in February presented by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust. It brings together music from across borders, cultures, and traditions. This was the 14th edition of the festival.
I was fortunate to be a part of this mesmerising three-day cultural extravaganza held in the royal city of Jodhpur from 10th to 12th February 2023.
Here is why you should go for the most spellbinding festival held in the Rajasthan desert.
A Serene Start
Music is a thread that binds people from different communities and creeds, and when it is set against the majestic backdrop of the Mehrangarh fort of Jodhpur, it is nothing less than pure magic. The fest started with the sunrise bhajan held at the Jaswanth Thada Temple, where Dada Khan Jeena Dedariya- the renowned Barmer folk band, performed songs dedicated to the Almighty. Swaying to the music with folded hands, I went into a complete trance, relishing the soulful compositions. It was a perfect beginning to what was going to be a surreal experience.
Enriching Sufi Music for the Soul
Adding to the vibrant atmosphere, the afternoon performances began with none other than the celebrated Sufi singer and composer Sonam Kalra. She enthralled the audience with her earthy voice as she transformed Amir Khusrow, Rumi and Bulley Shah’s poetry into stirring music. The audience joined in large numbers as she sang the popular “Damadam Mast Kalandar” and “Chaap Tilak”, amongst many other songs.
Continuing with the spirit of divinity and love, singer-composer Madan Gopal Singh and the Chaar Yaar Ensemble brought together a unique confluence of the harmonica, guitar, tabla and sarod. Their rendition of John Lenon’s ‘Imagine’ with the indigenous melody ‘Socho Zara’ was one of my favourites.
As the dusk crooned its beautiful melody, Loup Barrow, the talented composer renowned for his expertise with the Crystal Baschet- a contemporary polyphonic instrument, transfixed the audience with his enigmatic compositions. With this heady cocktail of music still echoing in my ears, I experienced yet another captivating performance by the world-famous tabla maestro Pandita Anuradha Pal and her all-girl Hindustani-Carnatic fusion ensemble ’Stree Shakti’. Set against the glorious ramparts of the fort, their music was a celebration of womanhood and the spirit of togetherness.
The next day was yet another musical treat with the likes of violinist Jyotsna Srikanth, world-famous flutist J.A. Jayant, and Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, who cast a meditative spell on the listeners with their traditional, classical compositions.
Another breathtaking performance was by Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth and Jean-Pierre Smadja, who fused Carnatic classical music with traditional jazz. Their jugalbandi was true to the festival's spirit of bringing diverse music traditions under one umbrella.
To add a global flavour to the event were - the Greek musician Sokratis Sinopoulos playing the bowed instrument lyra, the Hatan Women Ensemble from Mongolia bringing in the Khoomii throat singing tradition from the Altai steppes, and the Turkish kemenche player Derya Tuerkan. However, the showstopper was the colourful Bokhor Dance Company, showcasing Uzbekistan's vibrant culture through their foot-tapping music and energetic dance performances interspersed with our local Rajasthani folk dancers.
As the musical spectacle drew to a close in the impressive, imperial setting of the Mehrangarh fort, I found my heart reverberating to the soulful, earthy melodies celebrating divinity and love.
So, all you music enthusiasts, book yourself for the next edition of this event in February 2024 and immerse yourself in the veritable ocean of music. You will surely love it.
What: The Sacred Spirit Festival
Where: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan