This year’s edition of the Jodhpur RIFF has opened with great fervor and panache. The morning schedule of the first day of the festival, known all around the world for showcasing the best of folk music, was marked by Children’s Folk Morning strictly meant for school groups only. It featured spellbinding performances by young Langa musicians from the Marwar region.
These young musicians have risen up the ranks thanks to training camps organized to identify young talent in the remote areas. They sing and simultaneously play the Sindhi sarangi and various other folk instruments. Another key attraction of the morning schedule was string puppetry, an integral part of Rajasthan’s rich storytelling culture performed using wooden dolls, dramatic narration and scintillating music.
The morning session also featured the world famous Ghoomer dance originally associated with the Bhil tribe of Rajasthan. Another major attraction was Kachchi Ghodi—a unique dance-form wherein men dressed in radiant costumes dance to the tunes of a singer narrating the exploits of the Bhavaria bandits of Shekhawati while riding dummy-horses.
The morning schedule also included a Teraah Taali performance marked by the reverberating sounds of manjiras that are fastened to the waist, wrists, elbows, and hands of the performers. Children’s Folk Morning also featured a breathtaking performance of Rajasthani Circus comprising acrobats, magicians, musicians, dancers and a variety of Bhawai artists performing feats of daring.
While the morning session catered to the school groups, the opening night’s city concert scheduled for late evening marked the beginning of the 2019 Jodhpur RIFF. It served as a great introduction to what the folk music enthusiasts can expect in the upcoming days of the folk music festival.
The concert opened with the mellifluous voice of Sumitra Devi whose exploits in the international music arena break stand witness to the submersion of gender and social norms that have traditionally prevented the women artists from reclaiming their space in folk music.
The audiences were also treated to the flavors of Rajasthani Brass marked by an interesting collaboration between folk musicians and a brass band consisting of trumpet, trombone, clarinet, bass and other instruments. The internationally known Dhol Drummers of Rajasthan added more color to the musical night.
Agni Bhawai, a traditional fire eating and dance performance from the villages of northern Rajasthan, was also a part of the opening night. Another Indian artist who performed on the opening night was the popular male dancer from Tonk named Ashok Pahadia.
Noam Nani Vazana was amongst the international performers to grace the opening night. She mesmerized the audiences with a blend of Flamenco, North African music and Sephardic traditional song, with timeless melodies and fluid improvisation.
Her unforgettable performance was followed by another memorable performance by the legendary Muzsikas, enthralling those present with the charms of Hungarian folk music. Then it was the turn of the Maloyan band Votia to unleash their magic.
Over the years, Jodhpur RIFF, which is now in its 13th year, has emerged as a breeding ground for traditional folk music and arts. Since its inception the Rajasthan International Folk Festival has presented over 800 Rajasthani musicians including the likes of Bhanvari Devi, Kutle Khan, and Nathulal Solanki. Many of these artists have gone on to make a name for themselves in the international arena thanks to the numerous opportunities that came their way after performing at the Jodhpur RIFF.
Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Marwar-Jodhpur is the Chief Patron of the festival and Mick Jagger, front man of the rock band The Rolling Stones, is the International Patron Jodhpur RIFF. Divya Bhatia is the festival’s director and producer. The 2019 Jodhpur RIFF will be running from 10-14 October 2019 at the world famous Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.