Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav

Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav is a highly revered music festival that is organized annually in Pune, primarily during the month of December. Many noted and respectable vocalists, musical instrumentalists and Indian classical dancers make the event gracious by their presence and participation. It is basically a tribute to the renowned maestro vocalist of Hindustani Gharana, which began from the date of his first death anniversary in the year 1953.

Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav Pune

Practicing artists belonging to different types of art forms visit Pune during this festival, in order to pay their respects and tribute to the Vocalist. The festival is organized and conducted by the disciples of Sawai Gandharva in association with the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal, held over a period of 3 days.
New talents are discovered every year during this festival, as many new performers can take part in it to entertain the thousands of viewers who come to enjoy the different art forms from different parts of the world. This festival is popular not just in India but also across different countries, as many Indian classical art form performers, who have popularized their art form across borders, take part in this festival without fail.

History of Sawai Gandharva Festival

A renowned Hindustani Vocalist, with the birth name of Rambhau Kundgolkar and now revered as Sawai Gandharva, passed away on the 12th of September in the year 1952. A private concert was planned and organized to commemorate the death of this outstanding singer on the 16th day following his death by his distinguished disciples - Smt. Gangubai Hangal, Pandit Feroz Dastur and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. This tribute to the Sawai Gandharva by his disciples, laid the foundation of the festival, as the following year, all of Sawai Gandharva’s disciples, organized a music festival in full swing, in association with the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal. The festival turned into a ritual in the city of Pune following its success in the first attempt and its popularity grew at a rapid pace since then, leading to the making of a the largest Music Festival of India.

During the initial period, vocalists for the Kirana Gharana of the Indian Classical Music background used to perform, but today vocalists from different Gharanas and even performers like Classical Dancers, Violinists, Sitarists, Flute Players and many other instrumentalists take part in this festival. It was believed that one performance of a new talent or a new artist led to their advent and introduction to fame in the field of Indian music, since artists with a Master’s degree in their own field can perform on stage. This helped acquire massive popularity for the new talents and make space for their talent in this huge field of music and art forms.

Today, the festival is a landmark addition to the world of Music and an annual cultural addition to the city of Pune, Maharashtra. This specific festival has added to the popularity of not just new talents but also to the city of Pune, since the inception of the festival.

Another reason to initiate this festival was the intention of reviving the Arya Sangeet Vidyalaya, by the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal, as the former had been founded by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan in 1910 and become inactive in 1947. The honor of founding the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal belongs to many others along with Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, the list of those renowned and respectable artists are provided below:
  • Nanasaheb Deshpande
  • Dattopant Deshpande
  • Shri Balasaheb Atre
  • Abasaheb Mujumdar
  • Hirabai Badodekar
  • Kamlabai Badodekar
  • Saraswati Rane
  • Sureshbabu Mane
  • Shvrampant Divekar
  • Viththalrao Sardeshmukh
  • V.S. Sathe
  • D.V.Natu
  • Abasaheb Atre
  • Pandurangshastri Deshpande
  • Vamanrao Deshpande
  • Vasantrao Deshpande and
  • Vamanrao Abhonkar
Every year the festival received a grand ending with the finale performance of the great Vocalist, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, until 24th January 2011, when this great maestro left us leaving a huge void in the field of Indian Classical Music.

The Famous Gharanas

Gharanas refer to a certain system of social organization in Hindustani classical music that connects musicians by their style of music, lineage or apprenticeship. Different Gharanas, require different kinds of voices and singing style as some may seem easier than others and some may appear extremely difficult. Different vocalists master their skills of singing as per the skills they intend to harness and display to the world. Some of the most popular Gharanas under the Hindustani Classical Music are specified below:
  • Gwalior Gharana
  • Agra Gharana
  • Kirana Gharana
  • Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana
  • Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana
  • Lucknow Gharana
  • Farukhabad Gharana
These are only the best ones known to Indian Classical Music Connoisseurs, there are many other Gharanas adding color to the field of Indian Music. 

Speaking of Gharanas, one must also speak of the numerous talented and revered artists who participate in this festival coming from different parts of the world, where they are already popularizing their own Gharana among NRIs as well as foreigners. Below is a list of popular artists who take part in the Sawai Gandharva Festival, every year:

  • Takahiro Arai
  • Kaivalyakumar
  • Ut. Amjad Ali Khan
  • Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash
  • Dr. Prabha Atre
  • Dhanshree Ghaisas
  • Shrinivas Joshi
  • Lakshay Mohan Gupta
  • Aayush Mohan Gupta
  • Pt. Uday Bhawalkar
  • Dr. L. Subramaniam and Ambi Subramaniam
  • Ritesh & Rajnish Mishra
  • Debopriya Ranadive & Suchismita
  • Smt. Manjiri Asanare-Kelkar
  • Pt. Jasraj
  • Brajeswar Mukherjee
  • Dr. Mysore Manjunath and Mysore Nagnath
  • Smt. Purvadhanashree
  • Pt Ulhas Kashalkar

    Those who are a true connoisseur of Indian classical music will be familiar with at least a handful, if not all of these talented artists and comprehend the honor of their presence in the festival and their association with India and Indians. Passes for this festival are easily available online on sites such as BookMyShow and the event is covered by media publications such as the Times of India and The Telegraph. If you are a true lover of music and Indian art forms, then you must visit this festival at least once in your lifetime.
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