Jamia students' stint with Chahaar Bait

Jamia students' stint with Chahaar Bait

Cultural Fiesta

Jamia students' stint with Chahaar Bait

About 400 students and faculty of Jamia Millia Islamia University got a rare treat when they got an opportunity to witness Chahaar Bait, a raag sung by Kabayali Pathans in qawwali style.

Organised in the memory of Dr Zakir Hussain and Rabindranath Tagore, the two-day festival had two Chahaar Bait teams from Uttar Pradesh – ‘Bazm-e-Ahbab’ from Bachhraon, JP Nagar and ‘Akhara Ghulam Ali Khan’ from Rampur.

Chahaar Bait begins with participants singing in question-answer format. One team ask and the other team replies in the same style. The songs are mostly on love poems revolving around infidelity and loyalty.

Prof. Shahzad Anjum, head of the Urdu Department, said, “Traditionally, it was sung by villagers. After a tiring day, they would sing Chahaar Bait to de-stress themselves. At present, there are hardly any teams of Chahaar Bait left in the country. So we thought of introducing the students to an art which is more than 200 years old.”

Chahaar Bait meaning a four line stanza (or chaar baath as it could be called in Hindi), however, was initially introduced by Persian or Pashto speaking soldiers. They would gather around a bonfire after a hard day of fighting to compose and sing Chahaar Bait about their valour in battles.

It is a form where artists sing along with a musical instrument called dakht. The level of the energy is such that singers, in the last segment, end up tearing their clothes and walk about on stage as though in a trance. Here too, an artist tore his kurta apart while singing! Ideally Chahaar Bait starts at 9 in the night and goes on through the night but this concert was for two hours only.

Ustad Mohammed Amin Khan of the Rampur team said he really liked the way professors and students appreciated the performance. “This is the second time I performed in Jamia. People are forgetting Chahaar Bait. If students of Delhi get to see it, the art can be revived. Most Chahaar Bait singers are now deviating from it because the form is not getting the appreciation and value it should have,” he said.

The second day of the festival had ‘All India Mushaira’ in order to popularise the Noble Award winning collection of poems by Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Gitanjali’. About 18 poets from all over the country, including Delhi, rendered their own and Tagore’s work. Renowned poets including Azhar Inaeti, Javed Nasimi from Rampur; Krishn Kumar Toor from Dharamsala; Ameen Ashraf, Jamuna Prasad Rahi from Aligarh; Nasim Ansari from Bhopal; Rajesh Reddi from Mumbai; Alam Khursheed from Patna; Omair Manzar from Lucknow and Asrar Jamai and Moin Shadab from Delhi.
“In the age of technology, literature is losing its importance amongst youth. The purpose is to make students realise and value our big writers and literature. Those who love poetry enjoyed our session thoroughly,” added Shahzad.