Here’s what to expect at the 16th edition of Jodhpur Riff festival

It is a delight to watch Bundu Khan Langa, from the Langa community in Rajasthan, playing the khartal, moving his hands and head to its brisk rhythm. A pioneer of the ancient wooden musical instrument, he will perform live at Jodhpur Riff on October 29, sharing the stage with his sons Zakir Khan Langa and Kasam Khan Langa.

The 16th edition of Jodhpur Riff brings a rapturous mix of musical acts, from folk to indie and classical. The international annual music festival, held at the 500-year-old Mehrangarh Fort at Jodhpur in Rajasthan, opens on October 26, showcasing Rajasthan’s rich musical heritage.

Jodhpur Riff

Take the dance of the Kalbeliyas for instance. The Kalbeliya community from the Thar desert are snake charmers, for whom dance is an integral part of their culture. Suguna Devi, Mohini Devi and Asha Sapera will showcase the dance and music of the community on the opening day of the five-day festival.

Ever since its inception, the festival has aimed at providing a platform for folk artistes and musicians from the region. “When we started, we were the only ones on this path. And we remain the key facilitators. Others have followed and started taking an interest in emulating our efforts in their own ways… booking a few artists to perform, a collaboration here, a festival there,” says Divya Bhatia, festival director.

Jodhpur Riff

Jodhpur Riff

Selecting artists and the programme mix for each edition of the festival is an exciting task, says Divya. “I travel the world to search for artists. But since 2004, I have been travelling in Rajasthan, to meet and discover our folk artists and learn to work better with them,” he adds.

The concerts are mostly held at dawn and after sundown, under a starlit sky. Under the aegis of Mehrangarh Museum Trust, the festival is planned every year to coincide with Sharad Purnima, the brightest full moon of the year in North India. While you can wake up to the meditative music of the Manganiars and the Meghwals at dawn, you could wind down with energetic acts such as Agni Bhawai, a traditional fire eating and dance performance that originated in the villages of northern Rajasthan or catch indie ands such as the Kawa Brass Band.

Jodhpur Riff

Jodhpur Riff

This year, the festival will introduce a dance evening featuring two young dancers, Raina Peterson and Marco Cher-Gibard. It will also host Mumbai-based kathak dancer Tarini Tripathi. Also listen to Kuula Hetke, an improvisatory flute act by Kart Pihlap and Katariina Tirmaste from Estonia. Musical band from Naples Ars Nova Napoli, singer from Portugal Miroca Paris, violinist Jasser Haj Youssef, Hindustani vocalist Barnali Chattopadhyay, flautist Avadhoot Phadke, Carnatic vocalist Mahesh Vinayakram are some of the other artistes performing.

This edition also includes a Bal Mela for school students where they can see and participate in shows such as Kathputli (string puppetry), Ghoomer (a dance form), Teraah Taali (a form of dance), Rajasthani circus, (folk artistes performing daring feats), Kachchi Ghodi (a dance form using dummy horses).

Jodhpur Riff is from October 26 to 30. Tickets at jodhpurriff.org

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