ISP Jaipur Bureau
He is a leading figure of the Manganiyar music tradition of India. His work and art is inspiring a generation to unite with music and feel above narrow differences of religion, caste and creed. Meet Ustad Anwar Khan Manganiyar, the legendary voice from Barmer who has to his credit one of the highest National honour of Padma Shri.
He is a Muslim by faith and undisputely the most renowned voice which has amalgamated Meera Bhajans, teachings of Tulsi, Kabir and Guru Nanak into the global scene rising from the difficult desert life of Rajasthan. His home has a Krishna temple and he does his rehearsals after lighting the lamp in front of it.
Anwar Khan was born in the Baiya village of Jaisalmer and now lives at Indira colony in Barmer. Manganiyars are an exclusive community of Rajput folk musicians who render music that is eclectic, free, transcending barriers of language and religion, reflecting the same reverence for Krishna and Allah, using the dholak and kamaicha with unique vibrancy.
Anwar Khan Manganiyar’s deep-throated delivery refracts folk radiance as well as a strong base in classical music. He took on music from a very early age and started accompanying his parents to street singing and for shows in the nearby festivities in the villages. He never got a chance to go to a regular school. While journalists broke the news of his Padma Shri award on the eve of the 2020 Republic Day celebrations, his message to every artist in India was to get necessarily educated to excel in the field of their art. He was also felicitated by the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2017.
A popular artist with appearances in Doordarshan and All India Radio, Khan has been a playback singer for many Hindi movies but what cherishes him the most is to represent the country in foreign soil as India’s cultural ambassador. He is among the top choices of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations to spread the flavour of Indian folk music across the world. He has travelled to around 60 countries till now.
At the age of 62, Khan today is busier than ever. His zeal to impart his knowledge to the future generation makes him an ardent teacher with scores of young talents being nurtured under him in his home school in Barmer.
A humble man who grew up among 8 siblings in a family, Khan dedicates his honour and fame to his forefathers, the Langas and Manganiyars, who have kept the tradition of music alive in Indian deserts. He treats his honour as an honour for the folk music of India which has a rich culture of assimilation and unity.
Khan’s musical intelligence in establishing communication with audiences from varied cultural backgrounds and his deep understanding of his tradition are a crowd puller. The correctness of his lyrics and his commitment to interfaith worship, lends richness and depth to his rendition.