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Taalbelia: Manganiyars, Soulmate ruled the roost on Day 1

Mandawa is reverberating with blues, hip hop and fusion of different music traditions. By Chhavi


To be honest, the curiosity about the exotic yet less-explored destination of Mandawa in Rajasthan brought us to cover the first edition of Taalbelia festival. The three-day event that ends tomorrow (January 29) presents a super fun combo of music, food, arts and culture. On a rainy day, an ideal five-hour drive from Delhi took as much as seven hours. The downpour however couldn’t dampen the spirit of the festival, as the preparations went on, although with a little delay. Steeped in the royal history of Rajputs, the town of Mandawa is famous for the frescoes in its forts and havelis. Reaching the destination we witnessed the rustic majesty of the town, while the unkempt exteriors of the palace (now converted into the hotel) astonished us. The interior of the palace is spectacular with arched doorways, decorated alleys, expansive lawns and artsy ceilings and walls.

DON’T MISS: ‘My first encounter with songstress Bhanwari Devi was as magical as her voice’


As we neared the night, the first performance onstage was the Manganiar Classroom. A tribe of Rajasthan, the Manganiars are famous for their oral tradition of story-telling through singing. The tribe has produced some well-known artists like Anwar Khan, Ghazi Khan and Chugge Khan, to name a few besides many big troupes. The classroom was a concept of giving a platform to the school-going boys of the tribe. About 35 kids dressed in their school uniforms in a single line headed to the stage led. Known for their high pitched notes, the Manganiar kids adapt to folk singing from a very young age. The festival started on a very energetic note courtesy them and they kept it alive throughout their performance. Full of confidence and enjoying the limelight, they completely owned the stage. Multiple voices stuck to one note effortlessly. The child-like buoyance filled the spirits of the audience, as they encouraged the boys with waving fists the entire time. They went back the same way they came, in a perfect queue, commanding more adoration from the onlookers for their child-like innocence.

Next on stage was Soulmate, a blue’s rock band from Shillong, Meghalaya. Blue’s is a genre that acquits to the kind of music and lyrics that come straight from the heart. As is their name, Soulmate performed a medley of all their songs soulfully. Consumed in their performance, the jarring guitarists and vocalists Rudy Wallang and (Tipriti) TIPS, won the hearts as everyone neared the stage and danced to their exotic beats. Their last performance with TIPS on the mike and Rudy on the guitar raised the heat around with her daunting pitch and passionate dance moves, and his reverberating notes.

The much-awaited performance of the ghetto rapper Divine followed up next. His compositions themed around the mundane, along with the twist of the electronic music made it relatable for the spectators. As they mouthed his raps along not missing a single word and finishing his songs for him, the response he received was commendable. The audience, though small in number retained the atmosphere of enthusiasm as everybody performed with the band. Despite the multiple requests of ‘one more song’, the rapper had to leave after his rigorous performance to make way for Dualist Inquiry.

As time elapsed, the mixing grew more intense and so did the mood of the crowd. So much so that after wrapping up we crashed to our beds exhausted. With a smile on our faces from the previous performances we dozed off, excited to see what the next three days had in store for us.

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