Research and Documentation Project: Music of the Mirs

Music of the Mirs (2006–2008)

Manana has completed the Research and Documentation Project, Music of the Mirs in partnership with The National Culture Fund, Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

Mir is a community of musicians from the Pugal region in North western Bikaner (NW Rajasthan). The speciality of their repertoire is the unique and soulful Sufi music that they have been singing for about 500 years. The kalaams of Baba Sheikh Farid, Baba Bulleh Shah, Hazrat Shah Hussain, Hazrat Sultan Bahu and Khwaja Ghulam Farid are important elements of this tradition. Like many aspects of our rich artistic and cultural heritage, this tradition is dying out as economic hardships and drastic changes in the socio-economic structure have forced the younger generations to give up their vocation and take up more lucrative jobs. We see this Research and Documentation Project as a first step towards preserving this invaluable cultural asset.

We conducted several field visits to the region, visiting remote villages in search of the musicians of the Mir community. We made video recordings of more than 30 hours of music, interviews and discussions. Additionally we have around 200 still photographs and 10 hours of audio interviews. Based on our research we have brought out a monograph, a documentary film and two audio CDs that were presented to the Ministry of Culture. As a result, the Mirs have gained recognition from the Government and its affiliated organisations.

We are also getting the Mir musicians in touch with individuals and agencies that could help them with Music recordings and concerts. We have been closely working in conjunction with the community to devise solutions to their problems in earning a decent livelihood, and at the same time continuing in their musical tradition.