This I-Day, The Quint celebrates India's unique syncretic culture via stories of unity, love, and music from across the country. You can support this campaign by becoming a Q-Insider, so we can continue to tell stories that matter.
Cameraperson: Athar Rather
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Arey un angrezan ne phoont gher di Aaj unke muh laga diyo taado re Baapu Gandhi par bharat ko hai... Meo matwalo -Lyrics by Azgar Hussain, Mirasi Singer
Many moons ago, when Mewat's Muslims were ready to leave India during the partition, Mahatma Gandhi came to the refugee camp situated in the village Ghasera and urged them to stay. He called the Meos, "Iss desh ki reed ki haddi" or the back bone of India. Based on this historic incident, Azgar Hussain, a Meo Muslim Mirasi, wrote a melodious strain of song ''Baapu Gandhi par Bharat ko hai Meo matwalo''.
The lyrics say, "We are in love with Mahatama Gandhi, we are fond of him." This later became Mirasi's legendary ballad.
Meo Muslims are spread across eastern Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Meo, also known as Mewati, is an ethnic group that are inhabitants of Mewat region of Haryana.
"Na Hindu Bura Hai, Na Musalman Bura Hai Aa Jaaye Agar Burayi Toh Insaan Bura Hai"
"Neither the Hindus nor the Muslims are evil, it's the human being's deeds which are responsible for the distress," says Liaqat Ali, Mirasi singer and Mukhiya of his three-member band, which includes his brother, Zakir Hussain, his son, Shokeen, apart from himself. The Mirasi community comprises folk singers who hold an important part in shaping the cultural aspects of the region.
The Mirasans repertoire of folk songs is rich in meaning and diverse. From comprising the pre-Independence era, where Hindus and Muslims fought side by side, to the present scenario of complex dynamic among these religions, these musicians address them all.
The folklore incorporates the incident that took place back in 1857 when the Muslim king, Hasan Khan Mewati, allied with Rana Sangha against the Mughal emperor, Babar, and died in the battle of Khanwa. For Meos, the memory lived and is undying through their self-composed song.
Other than their enticing performance, the whole community's vocals are largely innate and genetically strong; as if they are born to sing. Everyone in this village has their own melody and one can hear the tunes emanating from every home. It is not uncommon to hear small kids singing effortlessly on high note.
From the folklores of Hasan Khan to Mahatma Gandhi, communal harmony to religious intolerance, Mirasis are holding on to their past where there was no place for communal hatred. A shrinking space of harmony among different religions, Mirasis of Mewat are spreading secularism through their tales, as they sing:
Bharat Desh Mero Badohe Amaano Sab Bahin Ko Ek Hai Naaro Arey Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, Sab Bahin Ko Ek Hai Naaro Arey Mil Ke Raha Aur Mil Ke Rahega Tirango Onncho Lehrawe Yehi Apni Nishani, Re Tum Bhedbhav Ko Door Karo Humsab Hain Hindustani Re Tum Bhedbhav Ko Door Karo
With India completing 75 years of Independence, The Quint is celebrating the soul of the country – its secularism. We are bringing stories of unity, love, and music from across India in our month-long campaign, SeculaRhythm.
What does a Secular India mean to you?
Send your stories, ideas, poems, and art at Hope@thequint.com, and celebrate India's SecluaRhythm with The Quint.