Darbhanga Gharana: The Rich and Royal Art of Bihar



The love of music, royalty, and the essence of the traditions and art are what comprise Biharis. The pieces of music in Bihar express their own distinctive story and heritage. One of them is the famous Gharanas. A Gharana refers to a family or a lineage that performs distinctive music or musical instruments of a particular region. Several Gharanas have moulded the art form of India and Bihar has a Gharana of its own.

The Darbhanga Gharana being the most famous one. This Gharana has started in the 18th century. Radhakrishna and Kartaram had established this tradition of the Hindustani classical music Dhrupad. They started off as musicians in the court of Nawab of Darbhanga. The versatile style of their differentiated them from other schools of Dhrupad.

The Darbhanga Gharana was much famous for its uniqueness in the identical balance in alap and bandish. Whereas the most style emphasizes on the much longer portions of alap, this Gharana presents an equal proportion of the melody as well as rhythm. Not only how the song is sung but also the vocal delivery and the zestful performance is what this Gharana is notable for.

Ram Chatur Mallik

Some of the famous singers of this tradition are Ram Chatur Mallik, Vidur Mallik, Abhay Narayan Mallik, and Prem Kumar Mallik. Ram Chatur Mallik (1902–1990) is one of the oldest and is considered to be the last main court musician at the court of Darbhanga royals. One of the closest to the royal family and the highness, he was responsible for all the music-related activities. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1970 by the Government of India. It is the fourth highest Indian Civilian Award.


Pandit Siyaram Tiwari

Pandit Siyaram Tiwari (10 March 1919 – 1998) who is a great Indian classical singer, has also had its stem rooted in Bihar. He also belonged to the Darbhanga Gharana. Known for his laykari techniques, he was the first one to promote the fast-paced laykari. Pandit Tiwari was honored with the Padma Shri in 1971 and later on with Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship in 1984 and Bihar Ratna in 1989.

The Darbhanga Gharana began to decline after India gained its independence. One of the golden musical traditions slowly lost its glow during the post-independence era. The shift from the Raj Gharanas and the shift of the royals towards a new kind of art brought tough times for the artists.
Nevertheless, the traditions don’t fade out but live in the hearts of the millions. The love for art and music is universal and always will be.

Malda Aam

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