“Samsuddin Ahmed, Radio and Television artiste” — A signboard hangs at a house in the heart of Golaghat town’s Santipur area. A regular artist in All India Radio and Doordarshan, Samsuddin Ahmed, 58 is a man on a mission — to keep the age-old tradition of Jikir and Zari alive.
Whenever, he gets a break from his official duties, he rushes off to his native Kurighoria village in Naharoni area where he trains little children in Jikir and Zari. The Jikir Zari Charcha Kendra (Jikir Zari Centre). The Centre was set up after a conference on Jikir was held in memory of his close associate Jikir Samrat Rekibuddin Ahmed.
Samsuddin Ahmed was initiated into this tradition in his early childhood. It was a custom in his native village where men gather, especially during happy occasions like weddings and sing Jikir and Zari. Usually men participate in the Zari nrittya (dance) while women sit and watch.
But women also sing Jikir. And his wife Farida Begum is also an adept singer. She too wants the younger generation to pick up and conserve this age-old tradition. Most of this oral tradition has been documented by Padmashree Syed Abdul Malik. “I was inspired by Syed Abdul Malik to pursue this interest,” he says.
“These devotional songs with a folk element were composed by 17th century Sufi saint Azan Peer. He came from Baghdad and settled in Assam. They also depict deep folk influences in the music,” explains Samsuddin Ahmed. He browses through his diary where he has noted down many of these songs.
Samsuddin Ahmed recorded a Jikir for the Assamese feature film “Siraj”, directed by music maestro Bhupen Hazarika. He has also performed in the Festival of Assam, organised by Bharat Natyam Cultural Complex in Kolkata. He was also named Guru under the Guru Shishya Parampara scheme under NEZCC, Government of India.
This Islamic musical tradition is also a fine example in communal harmony. There are many people from other communities who sing Jikir and are accompanists on the table and the dotara.
He can be reached at 91-9435691013