Gurdas Maan Packs a Musical Punch in Washington!

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August 23, 2012

By Geeta Goindi

WASHINGTON DC – That Gurdas Maan is a consummate performer was there for all to see at the Constitution Hall, on Friday night August 17, 2012.  The three-hour show, packed with entertainment, saw the living legend at his best!  Billed as an Independence Day concert, following both India and Pakistan’s 66th anniversary celebrations, it drew people from the subcontinent that thrives on Punjabi culture.

August 23, 2012

By Geeta Goindi

WASHINGTON DC – That Gurdas Maan is a consummate performer was there for all to see at the Constitution Hall, on Friday night August 17, 2012.  The three-hour show, packed with entertainment, saw the living legend at his best!  Billed as an Independence Day concert, following both India and Pakistan’s 66th anniversary celebrations, it drew people from the subcontinent that thrives on Punjabi culture.

Popular Punjabi singer Gurdas Maan at the Constitution Hall in Washington where he performed live in concert, Friday night – August 17, 2012

Deeply religious, down-to-earth and humble to the core, Maan began by kneeling down, touching the stage with his forehead as a mark of respect, and chanting ‘Ik Onkar’: there is one supreme God.  What followed was a religious invocation on universal brotherhood and harmony evoking Indian Gods and goddesses – Satguru Nanak Dev-ji, Ganapati Ganesh, Saraswati, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Narayan.  Maan told the audience, “Sabse miliye is sansar mein, na jaane kis bhes mein Narayan mil jaye” (mingle with everyone in this world; you never know in whom you will find God).

Maan is a devout follower of Sai Baba and his recent album, ‘Jogiya ve Jogiya’, features a tribute to the spiritual saint: ‘Sai Jee Baithey Naal’.  At a press conference, a couple of days prior to his DC show at the Aroma Indian restaurant in Shirlington, Virginia – a reporter queried Maan about his veering towards God and Sufi music.

“There is no harm in turning towards God”, he replied, in chaste Punjabi.  “The One, who has given everything, deserves as much and more.  It is very important to remember Him always”, he stressed.

Gurdas Maan, acclaimed Punjabi singer, with Mr. Aman Mehra (right), local promoter, at a press conference in the Aroma Indian restaurant, in Shirlington, VA

Maan told reporters, “When I was looking for work, God guided me in the direction of singing”.  Mr. Aman Mehra, promoter of the Washington show, probed the artiste about his feelings for Sai Baba.  Maan answered, “You should always chant what makes you happy and brings happiness.  Why should we be deprived of happiness by not taking that name?  I feel like taking Sai Baba’s name repeatedly.  It brings happiness and that is what we all want”.

Given the recent shootings at the Sikh Gurudwara in Wisconsin and the fact that the tragedy has been weighing on minds across the nation, it is only appropriate that the concert featured a tribute to the victims.  Maan dedicated the song ‘Challa’ to all those affected by the massacre in Milwaukee.

Punjabi singer-songwriter Gurdas Maan at a community meet-and-greet, following a press conference, at the Aroma Indian restaurant, in Shirlington, VA

At the presser, he was grieved by the shootings and said as much.  Expressing profound condolences to the families of the victims, he said, “All are God’s children.  Anyone who loves God will feel for these victims.  When anything tragic happens anywhere, it affects everyone of any faith.  But, you feel such things more acutely when they happen at a sacred place.  It always pains the heart”.  Quoting Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, he said, “Rabba kadi wi na pain vichore” (God, let no one ever experience loneliness or separation from loved ones).

Gurdas Maan teaching a little boy how to play the ‘dafli’ (tambourine)

In another touching sequence, Maan eulogized the girl child.  Inviting a little girl from the audience on stage, Maan showered her with respect, sang verses in her honor, all highlighting that daughters are so precious.  Punjab has a high female infant mortality rate which is a blot on an otherwise prosperous Indian state.

So, while the show was packed with entertainment, it conveyed deep, underlying messages!

Maan has over 35 albums to his credit and he sang a medley of his popular songs like ‘Pind Diyan Galiyan’, ‘Heer’, ‘Sajna ve Sajna’ and ‘Apna Punjab Hove’.  At the press conference, he told us, I wrote many songs during my college days like ‘Sajna ve Sajna’.  These songs became popular even before they were released.  They were very popular in college youth festivals.  I realized at that time that this was the path for me”.

Profusely thanking the press and media, Maan underscored, “It is through you that people come to know about us, know our personality, what we do.  An artiste’s talent cannot be highlighted without the support of the press and media”.  He should know.  He catapulted to fame with the song ‘Dil Da Mamla’, in 1980, which was widely broadcast on Doordarshan television.  “I consider Doordarshan as my Mecca-Medina”, he said at the presser.

Besides the local promoter, Mr. Aman Mehra, on hand at the press conference were the co-organizer of the DC show, Asher Gulab, and national promoter Mr. Nirmal Dhaliwal.

Gurdas Maan, acclaimed Punjabi singer, with Mr. Nirmal Dhaliwal (left), national promoter, at a press conference in the Aroma Indian restaurant, in Shirlington, VA

When, INDIA THIS WEEK, asked about the response to the shows, Mr. Dhaliwal replied: “Our main focus is on Gurdas Maan’s performance, logistics of the show like stage, are listeners satisfied?  It is not a matter of how many people showed up.  It is a matter of those who came, did they go back happy.  I have been working with Gurdas Maan for the last 13 years.  He is one of the best artistes to work with.  It is my good luck.  I can only say that we have tried our level best to make the best show possible”.

Maan performs across the US every alternate year and we asked him how the current shows are different.  “The ‘geet’ (songs) will be new”, he replied.  “Artiste and orchestra are the same.  Change happens in Bollywood shows where artistes change”, he said.

Born January 4, 1957, in Punjab, for Maan “age is just a number.  As long as you are energetic, healthy, you should keep working”, he told reporters.  An avid sportsman, he is very health conscious, looks fit as a fiddle and much younger than his 55 years.

At the press conference, he advised, “You should constantly learn.  You never know what you have learnt will come in handy.  You should learn from children, too.  It is not a question of ego; it is a matter of love”.

Gurdas Maan, acclaimed Punjabi singer, with Nikkitasha Marwaha (right) who moderated a press conference at the Aroma Indian restaurant, in Shirlington, VA

Nikkitasha Marwaha, who moderated the presser, said, “I am a dancer and dance is paramount on my mind.  What do you think about in your spare time if you have any?”, she asked Maan.  “I think about the whole world, whatever is in the news – national and international”, he answered.  “The mind is always active”.

A reporter wanted to know his message for Washington and he quoted from his song, ‘Lakh Pardesi’: “Lakh pardesi hoyea, apna des nahi pandi da; Jehre mulak da khaiyay, os da bura nee mangi da” (Even if you become a citizen of a different country, don’t disgrace your home country.  Wherever you earn your livelihood, never wish bad for that country).  “I speak through my ‘geetan’ (songs)”, he said.  “May God bless everyone, keep them in ‘Chardi Kala’ (high spirits), bestow them with love, success, respect, intelligence, and protect them from harm”!


 

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