Who does not dream of being a princess at least once in their lifetime? Imagine what happens when one, by virtue of their royal legacy, is born a princess. And while Rajasthan is filled with these royal families, we are talking about the royal family of Jodhpur and their one and only princess Shivranjani Rajye. Though word has it that the princess does not accommodate media attention, over the phone, Shivranjani sounds confident and not a wee bit media-shy. She talks softly and comfortably.
This is the time of the year when Jodhpur gets ready to host its most soulful and unique music festival and Shivranjani is responsible for its success through the years. The festival is called WORLD SACRED SPIRIT FESTIVAL – Jodhpur 2017. The very popular Mehrangarh Fort and the Ahhichatragarh Fort in Nagaur open their doors to an extraordinary sacred and historical musical journey. This year, the festival completes a decade. It brings out the sacred traditions from the Orient, the East and Africa, with an impressive line-up of artists in a stunning royal setting.
Talking to SheThePeople.TV about this festival, she said, “About 20 years ago, we got a grant to restore the property in Nagaur and the project started. The Ahhichatragarh Fort got restored and got a Unesco award and after that there was a need for people to come here and see its beauty, because so much work and effort was put into it. And there is also a Nagauri baba’s shrine in Nagaur which is second only to Ajmer Sharif, so I thought the Sufi connect was already there.”
“My family has a history of strong heritage, so we are in touch with the tradition and culture. But generally our work and everything that the family does is definitely grounded in reality”
And then to get people to come, stay and see the heritage conservation work and also traditional music is why we started the festival, recalled Shivranjani about how the fest idea originated.
Personally, Shivranjani loves music and she loves bringing the festival together. “I feel inspired, I love it. Of course, it gets a bit stressful making sure that the several different music tastes come together to cater to different people. It is about keeping the people happy but also keeping the integrity of the place and the music.”
For the dutiful princess, who takes care not just of the music festival but also the business of the heritage property, it is the local Rajasthani music of Manganniyars and Langas that give her the goosebumps. She recalled that when the local artists perform these forms of music with international artists, it is her most favourite performance.
But despite having so much interest in music, Shivranjani is not interested in playing any instrument herself. In her words, she is “tone-deaf” when it comes to playing anything.
Being a princess and living in a palace, we as commoners believe that the rich and royal are seldom aware of the ground realities. But Shivranjani is not one of those and stays connected to her roots and the village very closely. “I am very much in touch with the ground realities. My family has a history of strong heritage, so we are in touch with the tradition and culture. But generally our work and everything that the family does is definitely grounded in reality.”
Jodhpur women are extremely strong and very much into their tradition and culture, says Shivranjani about the women of her own city
She tells us that she goes around in Jodhpur all the time and her life is not sheltered and protected in any way. In fact, she is the one who takes care of the entire business under her father. Her younger brother, Shivraj Singh, had met with an accident a few years ago and slipped into coma. He is much better now and will be the next heir to the throne and the entire property. “Work-wise everyone divides the work between the siblings but the inheritance goes to the male heir,” said Shivranjani matter-of-factly.
Being in a leadership role, she feels that there is no dearth of inspiring and creative women. “Women are choosing different work today. I think our perception has to change in what leadership is. Is it climbing the corporate ladder or is it the village woman coming out of her house and working in different roles? There is gender bias but there is a leadership perception that has to change too.”
Talking about the women of Jodhpur, she thinks that Jodhpur women are extremely strong and very much into their tradition and culture. “Most of them are working, whether it’s the women of village or of city. Everyone is doing something and they inspire me too.”
For Shivranjani, being a princess is a happy responsibility. She is very well aware of the strong cultural heritage and she feels that it is her duty to contribute towards the growth of the city and the legacy.