On the banks of river Kolar, in the ‘temple’ village of Wakodi, 30 Kms from Nagpur, one Sunday of every January is devoted to music.
Snippets of “Albela sajan aayyoo re” to bhakti geeth to sugam sangeet “teri jawani toba toba oo dilruba dilruba” float in the air and can be heard all across the village, on the sandy banks of the river and inside the many temples dotted across the village. Mostly devoted to Lord Pandurang ( Vishnu).
“Sangeet ka apna ek mizaz hota hai… isse band hall ke andar nahee, khuli, shant jagah par sunana chahiye” says Aqueel Ahmed.
(“Music has its own temperament. It can be best enjoyed outdoors, away from the city buzz, in a serene setting”.)
So ‘Sargam’ music school has been holding this annual music festival right since its inception 18 years ago… the environs of the Pandurang temple at Wakodi were offered by one ‘shagird’ who is a native of this village and whose family has built the temple.
Ustad Aqueel Ahmed, easily runs one of the most popular sangeet classes in Nagpur – his ‘sargam’ branches total 5 now. Among his ‘shagirds'( disciples) are school and college students, house wives, professionals and many well known Doctors of the city, who find music a good way to relax.
He offers music as therapy for mentally disturbed patients, autistic people and mentally challenged too.
It is a very popular music school among Nagpur people who look forward to this annual ‘picnic’.
If one drives on the Nagpur – Bhopal highway, you will encounter many cars driving for this music festival. Either to sing, or to listen! There is also a vegetarian feast laid out for all. The scenic, unspoiled beauty of the Kolar river is an added visual attraction – so all in all, it is a feast for all senses.
Aqueel being a purist and great advocate of classical music, the sangeet mahotsav begins with renditions of khayals, thumris and bandish in many ‘ragas’.
Only after 2 – 3 hours of this, do they begin on sugam sangeet and film songs.
At the end of the festival, which goes on the whole day long, certificates and awards are given to students.
Speaking to NT, Ustad Aqueel Ahmed says that every human being should learn to sing and spend time ‘musically’.
“It is a great solace and stress buster too” he says.
He does not much care for the ‘competitive’ and ‘live’ singing competitions that are aired on various channels these days.
He specially advises parents to not send children for programs like ‘little champs’ which can destroy and disturb a child’s pure talent for music, he says.
“They will parrot words of the song without getting into the sur or the taal or the meaning. To become a successful singer ‘talim’ is very essential – and the patience of a student. These children become ‘stars’ and that is the end of their talent” he bemoans.
This ustad sets such store by talim (practise) that many classical music students who are aiming to give ‘visharads’ and other higher exams go to him for the ‘final polish’.
Being at the music festival this Sunday made one realize the essence of true, secular India.
Here is a Muslim Ustad, holding a ‘maifil’ in a Hindu temple courtyard and his students singing bhajans and thumris along with gazals and Urdu film songs!
Makes one believe that music and love are the true religions – all else is fanaticism!