43 kirtan groups to pep up historic Malaysia-Singapore raag darbar

Rajeshpal Singh Khalsa | Singapore | 19 Jan 2016 | Asia Samachar | 
Poster prepared for the first Malaysia-Singapore Raag Darbar to be held at the Gurdwara Sahib Silat Road, Singapore, on 7-8 Feb 2016.
Poster prepared for the first Malaysia-Singapore Raag Darbar to be held at the Gurdwara Sahib Silat Road, Singapore, on 7-8 Feb 2016.

A two-day raag darbar involving some 80 Gurmat Sangeet practitioners from five kirtan academies in Malaysia and Singapore is history in the making.

The 1st Malaysia-Singapore Raag Darbar on 7-8 Feb 2016 will see the participation of 18 jathas (groups) from Malaysia and 25 jathas from Singapore.

The programme will be held at the equally historic Gurdwara Sahib Silat Road which marks the arrival of Bhai Maharaj Singh, the first Sikh in Singapore.

At the function, the 80 Gurmat Sangeet practitioners from the two neighbouring Southeast Asian countries will render kirtan in pure and mixed raags in styles unique to Sikhs like Partaal style (multiple beats in a single composition).

The students will also render the music on instruments used during the times of the Guru, but had almost been sidelined at present. In a way, the event marks a successful revival of this rare art form.

Gurmat Sangeet is more commonly known as kirtan as done during the Guru’s time. The revival and preservation of this art form is an important service (sewa) undertaken by the organisations across both sides of the border allows sangat and the kirtani to experience the Shabad as it was sung by the Guru’s, Bhagats and Bhatts themselves. The raag darbar is also significant as it marks the successful grooming of local kirtan talent.

For the last two decades, gurdwaras across both sides of the border have become dependent on foreign kirtanis. As a result, there was a lack of impetus to groom local talent aggressively. The set up of Gurmat sangeet academies since 2005 have led to promising young talent coming to the scene. Some of them had even cut kirtan albums.

“The raag darbar also highlights the close bonds shared between Sikhs of Malaysia and Singapore. And this event seeks to further this friendship and take Gurmat Sangeet and promotion of local kirtani talent to the next level,” a Sikh Centre official tells Asia Samachar.

The event is supported by SGGS Ji Gurmat Sangeet Academy, Petaling Jaya Naujawans, Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) and the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board, Singapore (CSGB).


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