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Hariharpur, a heritage village, is 2 hours away from Benaras. Here, practically every family has a tradition of a musical lineage. Someof the legendary artists such as Pt. Chhanulal Mishra (Padma Bhushan), the late Pt. Samta Prasad, Pt. Sarda Maharaj, relatives of Pt. Birju Maharaj (Padma Vibhushan) are from Hariharpur.
Total population of Hariharpur is reported to be around 10,000.There are around 40 Brahmin families (all Mishras) in Hariharpur with around 250 persons. The others large groups are of Yadavs and Scheduled Castes. The Brahmins are having their own section in the villages. All their houses are located in the same area.
The interesting feature of the Mishras of this village is that all of them are descendents of some or other famous musician and are carrying on the tradition of learning music. All the boys learn music from their fathers, uncles or grandfathers. They learn to play tabla and sarangi and to sing classical numbers as well as folk music. The boys start learning music at a very early age. The girls are not given any formal training in music. However, they pick up the knowledge and the art of music on account of the constant exposure to the same. The young musicians here perform with proficiency and some of them would be good enough even for a performance in the cities. However, what is very necessary is that this musical tradition of Hariharpur is kept alive. It has an old musical lineage of the Benaras Gharana of singing, table, and sarangi, and if steps are not taken urgently to revive and nourish this tradition, it will fade into oblivion. As it is, since there is no proper training being given to them and the lure of the outside world is there to draw them away from their traditions, many of them are leaving Hariharpur and seeking other and more profitable work outside. We propose to explore avenues to impart training to the budding musicians here along with developing necessary infrastructure.
Team of the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (RHD Team) interacted with these musicians. It surfaced that despite having so much talent they were living from hand to mouth. They did not get adequate opportunities to showcase their talent and make good money from it. They got to perform only occasionally and were paid a pittance for their performance. They also stated that though most of them would like to learn music from better sources and also get proper education yet they could not do so for lack of funds. They stated that there was shortage of good teachers as well as shortage of musical instruments.
The RHD Team was informed that although among the 50 plus age group, most of the men were high school pass yet the younger generation did not have many persons who had passed high school. In other words, they stated that the level of education had declined. This was attributed to scarcity of funds. They said that they were finding it increasingly hard to make both ends meet and hence, could not pursue education as they had to run around for earning a living. They stated that they go to different towns for performing. However, they could not save much from their performances as the cost of transportation had gone up on account of the increase in petrol and diesel prices.
The village gets only a few hours of electricity in the day, no piped water, a primary school which is practically non-functional, and there is no proper road to the village, only a Kachha track. The residents said that there is no water supply system in the village and that each household has its individual boring system. It was reported that the ground water table was quite good and that they had their own tube wells for irrigating their farms. They also reported that the soil was fertile and they managed to grow two to three crops in a year. However, they were unable to make much money from agriculture as their landholdings had become very small over the years on account of successive divisions of land as the families grew in size. The villagers also mentioned that the electricity supply in the village was highly unreliable and that there was no electricity for several hours during the day. There were also no roads in the village and one had to walk through shrubs, grass and slush to go from one place to the other. The Brahmin houses were generally made of bricks with tile roofs. However, they were of poor quality and sparsely equipped. The house where we had gathered, however had some colourful designs and images of the Ganesha painted on the outside walls.
We at the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development are working towards necessary effort to improve the infrastructure in Hariharpur. This would involve building provisions for indoor & outdoor performances, museum, and training academy and managing the same. A holistic approach would involve developing basic infrastructure like roads, primary school, primary health care centre, adult education centre, vocational centre, etc.
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