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Tansen Music Festival, The Vibrant Ode To A Musical Genius!

Indian classical music is a blissful, serene form of art. It inspires, soothes and enthralls the listener. The beauty of Indian classical music is celebrated across India in various forms. One of the major celebrations held in Gwalior is the Tansen Music Festival for music lovers and connoisseurs.

gwalior photo
“Photo of Gwalior Fort, India” by Ninara under CC By 2.0

Music has been revered and practiced in India for centuries. Kings, noblemen, and rulers were patrons of this form of art. Musicians, singers, and performers were invited to royal courts, weddings, and festivals. Mastering the Indian classical music arts was possible only for geniuses. Musicians were also awarded lands, gold, and important positions by Indian princes and kings. Legends and myths were written about renowned singers and composers. There are many popular figures in Indian classical music but none to match Tansen. A popular artist and performer of North Indian classical music, his prowess is legendary. He was proficient in what became known as ‘Hindustani’ classical music. Tansen was born and raised in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. The royal court of Rewa allowed him to study and practice his art. Achieving royal patronage meant he could focus on connecting with his art and improving his performance. His dedication to the arts gained him popularity across the Indian continent. It eventually reached the ears of Mughal ruler and famous Emperor Akbar. Akbar was a loyal supporter of arts and music. He invited several local and regional players and performers at his court. Tansen was offered the rare privilege of becoming a part of his inner circle of advisors and courtiers. He became one of the ‘Navratnas’, the nine precious jewels in Akbar’s court.

History often blends with legend to create myths. Tansen’s life and his talents have been the subject of many books and epics. Some claim that his music could bring down rain. The ‘Raag Megha Malhaar’ is known across legends to have been so powerful that it could summon rains and thunder. Tales of his ‘Raag Deepak‘ narrate how he could light up candles and ‘diyas’ with the pure, raw strength of his singing and music. The secrets to these powerful raags and notes have been lost over the centuries but nobody disputes Tansen’s prowess.

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It is in homage to this celebrated musician that the Tansen Music Festival is celebrated in Gwalior annually. It is also called as the ‘Tansen Samaroh.’ Celebrated over 4 days, this elaborate event and festival is a true testimony to music’s most revered and mythical figure. The spot of the festival is carefully chosen as it takes place near the tomb of Tansen. Organized by the Department of Culture of the Madhya Pradesh Government, it started as a local festival but soon gained popularity. Due to the interest and number of attendees, it was transformed into a national event. India’s most talented musicians are rewarded with the ‘National Tansen Samman.’

The Tansen Music Festival is held in December in Gwalior. Gwalior is a popular city in Madhya Pradesh. Tourists and travelers can take a flight or train to Gwalior from all major cities of India. The city has a plethora of hotels, lodges, and villas for tourists to pick from. December is a wonderful time to visit as you can enjoy cool evenings and chilly mornings. Apart from the Tansen Music Festival, Gwalior is also known for its delectable food. Visitors can sample amazing street food, spicy local cuisine, and warm drinks like the ‘Masala Chai.‘ Local artists, musicians, famous singers, and performers come together to present a dynamic, vibrant event of art and music. The audience is enthralled with classical Hindustani music performed by singers from all over India.

Featured “Photo of Tansen’s place” by solarisgirl under CC BY-SA 2.0

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