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Whenever the world celebrates, music or day s related to music, I am reminded of the confluence of history, folklore and romance, with music in India and how beautifully they meet, here as a tradition. Folklore takes one back to the delightful days when most children in India were addicted to reading the Amar Chitra Katha, a comic book based on Indian folklore and stories. A particular story comes to my mind, that of Baz Bahadur and Roopmati in the princely town of Mandu, India. There are many stories that surround these lovers, some say Roopmati was a shepherdess, some say she was a queen and married when Baz Bahadur(the last sultan of Malwa 1555 to -1562) met her singing beside the Narmada. Certain reports mention that Roopmati was queen of Baz Bahadur, others suggest that since both were married, they stayed separately, with the love of music fueling their mutual desire. Whether Roopmati was a commoner or royalty is perhaps questionable, but what is certain is that she was an incredible beauty with an equally beautiful voice. It is said that Baz Bahadur built a palace for her from where she would sing for him in the evenings. Whether incidental or not the walls in the palace of the Sultan were built in such a way that songs sung could be heard in an echo from far off..a testimony that stands till today. Besides capturing the heart of millions, the love story of Baz Bahadur and Roopmati, their love for music is merged in history.
The story takes an interesting turn with the origin of the Rewa Kund. A great devotee of the river Narmada, Roopmati refused to eat till she saw the river every day. When she started staying at the ‘Rani Roopmati place that’ Baz Bahadur had made for her, sometimes it would be difficult for her to catch a glimpse of the Narmada. Impressed by her devotion, the Godess of Narmada came to her dreams and suggested that she dig a pond at a place close to her palace, which would be the very water of Narmada. When this was done, true to the dream, the waters of Narmada emerged near the palace. The lovers and their love for music is of course immortalized today, with the bards singing of the love between the two.. one can’t but wonder on the occasion of world musical confluence, what Roopmati had sung for Baz Bahadur. Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh of course have a song that captures this beautiful love story and its essence..replete with the images of the Mandu Fort.
( Image courtesy Google Images)