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The Claps of Khartal and the Magicians Who Make It Worth Applause!

The tunes of Padharo Mare Desh sound even more musical if they are played by the claps of a Khartal. For the ones thinking what is khartal? Immerse yourself in the taps of this wonderful Rajasthani Instrument and the players who make it sound more melodious. 

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Hitanshu Bhatt
New Update
khartal players of Rajasthan

If you have even been to the state of Rajasthan or listened to Rajasthani folk music, the claps of a wooden musical instrument would have reverbed into your ears. And if you vividly remember the scenes, an image of a musician in light coloured dhoti and kurta with a vibrant Rajasthani Pagdi (turban) playing the instrument would pop into your mind. These are the khartal players and the instrument they are playing is the popular khartal of Rajasthan.

The Khartal is a traditional percussion instrument originating from Rajasthan and the earliest mention of it can be seen in the 16th-century depictions of Meera Bai, a devotee of Lord Krishna from Pali, Rajasthan. The earliest use of khartal was in bhajan, harinam, and kirtan

mirai playing instrument
Image Courtesy: Indian Art (X)

It is an instrument made with 2 pieces of wood each fitted with metal discs or jingles. These pieces were originally made with rosewood and ebony trees, but today are made from many different hardwoods, like maple, black locust, teak, or padauka. They are held in each hand and played by clapping them together, producing a rhythmic, clinking sound. The name "Khartal" is derived from the Sanskrit words "Kar" (hand) and "Tal" (clapping), reflecting its method of play. 

Producing these sounds that are pleasing to hear and in rhythm is no child's play, but the seasoned khartal players of Rajasthan make it look like a cakewalk. These players are mostly from the Manganiyar and Langa communities and play khartal in Bhavai and Kalbelia, the folk dances of Rajasthan, as well as in bhajans and kirtans. This World Music Day, let’s celebrate these musicians who play this percussion instrument.

  • Bhungar Khan

Bhungar Khan

Bhungar Khan and his group are one of the most famous folk music crews in Rajasthan. Bhungar Khan is from Taloon ka Gaon village in the Barmer District of Rajasthan. He and his group have been practicing this art form not only in Rajasthan but in the rest of India and other parts of the world. He has been invited by the ICCR to play at concerts abroad on numerous occasions. These include live performances in Norway, Russia, Uzbekistan and Germany. He is also a recognized musician on All India Radio, Barmer and his group have played for Coke Studio.

  • Arif Khan 

Arif Khan 

Arif Khan is a khartal and a morchang (an instrument similar to the Jew's harp) instrument player. He has been playing khartal for the past 20 years and has done various national and international shows. He is a part of the band named 'Saaraag' from Jaipur. His guru was Ustad Bismil Khan, a well-known khartal player from Rajasthan. Arif started learning khartal at the age of 10 years and supports the chorus as well as sings Rajasthani folk songs.   

  • Gazi Khan

Gazi Khan

Gazi Khan is one of the most seasoned khartal players from the state. He is not only an expert khartal player, but also an exceptional Sufi Vocalist, and renders authentic folk ragas. He has travelled to countries like Europe, Asia, and America and participated in well-known folk festivals. He has accompanied renowned rhythm instrument players like Zakir Hussain and A. R. Rahman. 

  • Ameen Khan 

Ameen Khan

Ameen Khan is a 21-year-old all-round musician from Barmer. He plays dholak, harmonium, and khartal and is well-versed with most folk music instruments. He has learned from his brother Khete Khan and has been into music for almost 12 years. The young musician belongs to Sunta Gharana, who gave him exposure to music early on in his life, and has been focussing on only music after he left school in 7th standard.

  • Sabir Khan

sabir khan

Sabir Khan is a child artist who is currently in his early teenage. At such a young age Sabir has gained extensive knowledge of classical and traditional Rajasthani folk forms. He belongs to the Manganiyar community of Jaisalmer and leads a group of young and upcoming child artists. Along with khartal he also plays dholak, dhol, and morchang. He has performed in almost all districts within Rajasthan and metro cities such as Mumbai as well.

  • Sattar Khan 

Sattar Khan

Sattar Khan is one of the famous Khan Brothers, an Indian musical duo specializing in traditional and classical Indian music. Sattar Khan has been a musician since childhood and has been playing khartal along with dholak and other classical instruments. He brings a variety of Rajasthani music via folk songs and Qawwali (sufi songs). He was a guest musician for Natasha Atlas and Transglobal Underground. 

  • Imamumuddin

Imamumuddin

Immamuddin is from Bikaner but he was born and brought up in Jaisalmer. People prefer to call him Imam with love. He is an outstanding khartal player. He has learnt this art of playing khartal from his father when he used to accompany him for shows and perform with him in hotels from the tender age of 6. He used to follow the music with education simultaneously. 

  • Moti Khan 

moti khan

Moti Khan is another young and dynamic khartal player from Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. The 19-year-old has been learning music since the age of 10 and began to learn from his guru, Kheta Khan, who is his paternal uncle. Along with the group of musicians led by Kheta Khan he has performed in almost all districts of Rajasthan and other cities such as Mumbai and Goa.

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