Celebrating culture, Patiala style

The festival’s star attraction will be ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali, who shall share the dais with qawwal Mohammad Ahmad Warsi Khan of Rampur. The classical music bonanza shall bring Benaras Gharana gayaki of Girija Devi and Bharatanatyam performance by Yamini Krishnamurthy along with the rich exposition of Patiala Kasur Gharana by the grandsons of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

Interestingly, this time the inaugural presentation will feature kathak interpretation of the Patiala Gharana gayaki. The event will feature vocalist Primila Puri, along with her illustrious daughter Nandita Puri, who is known for her choreography in the much-acclaimed film, Sardari Begum.

From classical dance performances to fashion, the festival will have a heady mix. Shovana Narayan will weave magic with her dance steps on February 18, and three days later a fashion show shall display exciting collections of designers like Mona and Pali from Kolkata, who have made a significant contribution to Indian fashion for two decades, and Kavita Bhartia, known for her premier design salon Ogaan.

Handicrafts from all over India are also sure to cast a spell on those interested in heritage. A crafts fair, with as many as 150 artisans, will be held at Sheesh Mahal from February 15 to 29.

Ghulam Ali
With Uttaranchal and Kerala as the guest states, the exhibits shall include fine metalwork, traditional jewellery, textiles and pottery. Since Punjabi spirit cannot be dissociated from delicious food, the organisers have made arrangements for special food stalls that will offer Punjabi delicacies, including makki di roti, sarson da saag, and Amritsari kulchas.

The society will be redefining the celebrations this time by offering more than just rhetoric on heritage conservation.

So besides hosting a seminar on the endangered Kila Mubarak, the oldest fortified palace of Patiala, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), one of the organisers of the week-long festival, has also involved schoolchildren of the town in the task of cultural conservation.
Each school of Patiala was recently asked to adopt a locality in the walled city and list its historical significance.
On the basis of reports submitted by children, a heritage conservation expert from Ahmedabad, Debashish Nayak, was asked to prepare a heritage walk for Patiala. The walk will be held on February 18.

The magic of Kasur Gharana

Ustad Mazhar and Jawad Ali Khan

USTAD Ali Baksh Khan and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan were the founders of the Patiala Gharana. Together called Alia Fatoo, they had two notable disciples ‘ Ali Baksh Khan and Kale Khan, outstanding vocalists of Kasur Gharana.
The history of Kasur (a township near Lahore) Gharana goes back to six generations. Known for its melodic ambience, it enabled the mystic music of sufis to flourish. It was from Kasur that Ustad Ali Baksh Khan and Ustad Kale Khan brought to Patiala the fragrance and beauty of the Kasur Gharana. They lived in Patiala, infusing its canvas with a colourful musical style. They laid emphasis on diction and clarity of lyrics, impressive taans and bol taans, intricate layakari and linkage of the sthayi and the antara.
Ali Baksh and Kale Khan went on to become court singers in the Jammu and Kashmir darbar. Later, Ustad Ali Baksh Khan was blessed with Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, who took the Patiala Kasur Gharana to its zenith. Ustad Mazhar and Jawaad Ali Khan are visiting Patiala to recreate that magic.

Revival of gentleman’s game
This year’s festival is not just about classical music concerts against the sparkling backdrop of imperial buildings like the Sheesh Mahal, Kila Mubarak and the Old Moti Bagh, but also about sports.
The stage is now set for a goodwill match between Indian and Pakistani cricketers, to be played on the lush green grounds of Baradari (Dhruv Pandav) stadium. Recognised for producing star cricketers of the order of Lala Amarnath and Mohammad Nisar, Patiala’s date with cricket goes back to 1891, when Maharaja Rajendra Singh got the stadium grounds ready.

Foreign expertise was sought to make the grounds worthy of world-class cricket. Even before Indians formally started playing test cricket, it had alt become a norm for all visiting foreign teams to play in Patiala. After the death of Maharaja Rajendra Singh, cricket flourished under Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, who got foreign coaches to train the Patiala team. Interestingly, even the term Ranjhi has been coined after Maharaja Patiala’s ADC, who was nicknamed Ranjhi.

Another entry ‘ rural sports of Punjab ‘ will be organised on February 20 and 21 on Polo Grounds. A dog show is also scheduled for the final day, apart from the Patiala Cup Polo Final Tournament and equestrian events.  

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