This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This article may be in need of reorganization to comply with Wikipedia's layout guidelines. Please help by editing the article to make improvements to the overall structure. (September 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Festival" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav
DatesTraditionally the second weekend of December
Location(s)formerly New English School Ramanbaug,
2018 - Maharashtraiya Sankul, Mukund Nagar
Pune, Maharashtra, India
Years active1953 – present
Founded byBhimsen Joshi,
Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal

The Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav (formerly known as the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav[1] and simply known as Sawai) is an annual Indian Classical music festival held in Pune since 1953. The festival is hosted by the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal (ASPM) and initiated by Bhimsen Joshi as a memorial music conference commemorating the life and work of Joshi's guru, Sawai Gandharva, the festival's namesake.

While Joshi was leading the organisation of the festival, performing artists received personal invitations from him to perform at it. With an emphasis on Hindustani Classical Khayal music, instrumentalists, dancers, dhrupadiyas, Bhakti musicians, Ghazal musicians, Qawwals, and Carnatic musicians frequent the concert lineup.

A younger artist's debut performance at the festival connotes their "arrival" and promise to the Classical music scene of India (most recently including Rahul Deshpande, Kaushiki Chakrabarty, and Mahesh Kale).

Since its inception, the festival has grown into a prominent cultural soiree for Pune's musical connoisseurs, featuring the foremost musicians of traditional Indian musical forms.


The festival was started in 1953 on a small scale, to commemorate the first death anniversary of Sawai Gandharva, the acclaimed Hindustani Classical vocalist of the Kirana Gharana.

Bhimsen Joshi led the organisation of the festival from its beginning until 2002 when his health problems became of concern.[2] Joshi's youngest son, Shrinivas Joshi, and senior disciple, Shrikant Deshpande, succeeded him as organisers.[3] Since Joshi's death in 2011, Shrinivas Joshi has been the main organiser.

Recent years

The 2009 Festival was postponed to January 2010 due to an H1N1 scare in Pune.[4][5] Heavy rain on 13 December 2014 caused the festival to be postponed until 1 January 2015.[6]

When Bhimsen Joshi died on 24 January 2011, the ASPM decided to rename the festival from its original name of 'Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav' to 'Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav' in his honour.[7]


The Sawai Gandharva Music Festival is conducted every year in the first two weeks of December over three days. In the past, the festival runs through whole the night and the days used to end in the morning. Later on, when Pune Municipal Corporation set rule to finish the program before 10 pm which leads to change in the schedule of the program. Traditionally, each festival is inaugurated with a tribute honoring Sawai Gandharva, with a Shehnai musician performing first, in the early morning. During the first two days, programs begin in the late-afternoon and are supposed to officially end by 10 pm. On the third and final day (previously a Saturday, now usually a Sunday), the programme is conducted in two sessions, the first beginning in the early morning continuing until the early afternoon, the second session begins in the early evening and ends at 10 p.m.

Finale performances

Tradition was that the finale performance was presented by Bhimsen Joshi. Since his retirement, other members of the Kirana Gharana took on the role, including Sangmeshwar Gurav in 2005 and leading disciples of Joshi in 2006. The vocalist Prabha Atre has concluded every festival since 2007.

The festival officially concludes with the entire audience and remaining performers listening to the Thumri in Raag Bhairavi recording "Jamuna Ke Teer" by Sawai Gandharva, a tune made famous by and signature of his guru, Abdul Karim Khan.


See also


  1. ^ "Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav renamed – Mumbai – DNA". Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Still magical". The Hindu. 31 October 2002. Archived from the original on 19 October 2003. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Sawai Gandharva music fest to start from Dec 11 – The Times of India". Times News Network. 25 November 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  4. ^ "Sawai Gandharva festival postponed". The Times of India. 25 October 2009.
  5. ^ Sawai Gandharva Festival to be held from January Indian Express.
  6. ^ "Sawai Mahotsav postponed - Sakal Times".
  7. ^ "Music fest renamed Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav". The Times of India. 19 November 2011. Archived from the original on 1 July 2012.