THE THIRD SEX: HIJRAS, KHUSRE - 'First Meditate An Image of God' by KHAARTOUM - 'UMRAO JAAN'
KHAARTOUM SINGS the SOLO and 10 VOICES CHORUS from INDIAN FILM: UMRAO JAAN' . Thanks to Vishaal for translating Hindu and provincial Hindi words! Mughal 'RAAGMALA' [medley of several ragas] 'PRATHAM DYAN DINESH', or 'FIRST MEDITATE AN IMAGE OF GOD'. The SONG is EXTRAORDINARY in an CONTEMPORARY FAITH-EXTREME WORLD. MUGHAL MUSLIMS PERFORM a MULTI-FAITH SONG in a SECULAR, NOT RELIGIOUS, PREMISE. The RAAGMALA touches on SUFI ISLAM, HINDUISM, SIKHISM and CHRISTIANITY.
I DEDICATE this MULTI-CULTURAL SONG to the SUBCONTINENT'S 'THIRD SEX' as they are, like the GODS, MALE and FEMALE and ALL THINGS. INDIA and BANGLADESH'S 'HIJRAS' and PAKISTAN'S 'KHUSRE'. These are MALE EUNACHS who are sometimes CASTRATED and DRESS as the OPPOSITE SEX. Little is known about the EUNACHS. ZIA JAFFREY tried to RESEARCH this GROUP of PEOPLE in INDIA in his 1997 book, 'THE INVISIBLES: A TALE OF EUNACHS OF INDIA'. The book ends strangely with the sentence: "That is all there is. I cannot find out anything more about these secretive people."
ZIA JAFFREY MAKES THESE OBSERVATIONS on INDIA'S HIJRAS:
- Hijras go through sexual initiation ceremonies to train them to entertain males
- Great superstition surrounds Hijras and harming them or turning them away from christenings or weddings where they dance for money is seen as invoking bad luck.
- Hijras live in commune houses and are matched with a partner in a non-sexual relationship. They look after their partner until death.
- Hijras never marry.
- Hijras are always Muslim.
- The Hijras came from the Turkish invasions and are not related to Hinduism.
- Historically, two Mughal brother princes battled and one was killed for their love of one Hijra.
- Hijras live in harmony with Indian society. [In Pakistan they are called Khusre, and they may live in harmony with society as long as they dress conservatively as other women do and cover their heads].
- Hijras like to make fun and sometimes are outrageous grabbing and kissing men for a laugh in the streets of India.
- Hijra love to dance and sing [Link to Sufism?]
- Hijra are not permitted their own grave. They are buried at night in a fresh grave of a Muslim. They are buried face-down on top of another Muslim.
- Hijras are a very secretive people and there is little documented of them or their lives.
- There are estimated over 6 million Hijras in India and 300,000 Khusre in Pakistan.
- In the Subcontinent they were granted 'Third Sex' status legally in 2009.
UMRAO JAAN ADA is the FIRST URDU NOVEL written in 1899 by MIRZA HADI RUSWA and chronicles the LIFE of a MUGHAL COURTESAN, her KIDNAP as a CHILD, TRAING in DANCE and POETRY for the ROYAL COURT where she becomes the MOST FAMOUS COURTESAN. However, UMRAO JAAN NEVER FINDS LOVE, for how BEAUTIFUL she is, or how many PALACES she DANCES at. The BOOK was MADE into a PAKISTANI FILM in 1972. And later into a SPECTACUAR CLASSIC in INDIA starring REKHA in her most ICONIC ROLE as the MUGHAL COURT ENTERTAINER where she even WORE DRESSES from a MUSEUM for the PRODUCTION.
'PRATHAM DYAN DINESH' is a COMMERCIALISED RAAGMALA or MEDLEY of RAGAS from the 1981 film that I have SUNG as SOLO and CHORUS here. I found the SONG much more DIFFICULT to SING that I imagined. The main difficulty of the piece is that it is made up of SECTIONS of SEVERAL DIFFERENT SONGS with DIFFERENT MELODIC STRUCTURES and DIFFERENT SCALES. It was DIFFICULT with the INSTRUMENT TRACK to SOMETIMES MOVE EASILY from ONE RAGA to ANOTHER and PITCH or ARTICULATE the PHRASING. So it took a lot of PRACTICE!
A few STUDIO TECHNIQUES were NEEDED like a SWEEPING REVERB and DELAY to get the ECHO of the MUGHAL COURT. I had to PERFORM the CHORUS TEN TIMES and PAN it ACROSS the STEREO STAGE. When RECORDING each TAKE, I had to MOVE NEARER or AWAY from the MIC and TRY to SING in a 'DIFFERENT VOICE TIMBRE' to SOUND like A DIFFERENT PERSON. So that on PLAYBACK I was like a CHORUS of 10 DIFFERENT SINGERS. A lot of REVERB and DELAY on those VOICES helped to DISGUISE that it was JUST ONE SINGER! The SOLO wasn't SO DIFFICULT to SING, especially as it was LOW and in EASY RANGE. I also really LIKE the SONG and that MADE it a JOY to RECORD! I CHANGED the DRUMMING PATTERN and STOPPED DRUMMING ALL TOGETHER to GIVE VARIETY and CONTRAST to the PERFORMANCE.
The POETRY refers a lot to HINDUISM which, in a time of EXTREMES in RELIGION, it is REFRESHING that MUGHAL SUFI SINGERS could SING in a SECULAR CULTURAL MIEN about HINDUISM, SIKHISM, SUFISM and CHRISTIANITY in a very MUTLI-CULTURAL and MULTI-FAITH without any feeling of FEELING THREATENED or PREJUDICE. It shows that SUFI ISLAM and the MUGHAL EMPIRE were very TOLERANT.
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