Kumar’s bhajan journey

Anuj Kumar, in front of the microphone, at the competition last Saturday. Picture: SUPPLIED

“The true beauty of music is that it connects people.”

These were the sentiments of 38-year-old Anuj Kumar who lives in Waidradra, Navua, and is a prominent bhajan (devotional song) artist.

We caught up with Kumar at his latest bhajan competition at Rampur College in Navua last Saturday.

His interest in bhajan began in his childhood days and his first recording was made when he was just in Class 4.

Kumar now drives a taxi, is married and has three children.

He says music is his passion and he relates his thoughts in words through songs.

“I had stopped singing bhajan when I started my family as I hardly had time. However, my passion towards it couldn’t keep me out for long and I resumed singing again. I have had numerous competitions and am still learning something new every time I meet new singers,” he said.

The former Rampur College student says he has some good memories of competitions against some of the best in his field.

“Suresh Mani of Lautoka; Lakena, Nausori’s Ajesh Singh; Sigatoka’s Arun Choy. These are some of the best in the field and I am fortunate to have had a chance to sing alongside them.”
Last Saturday, Kumar competed against Nasinu’s Vijay Deo at the Rampur College hall.

Minister for Waterways Mahendra Reddy was the chief guest at the event and Kumar says it was a pleasure to have sung in front of a Member of Parliament.

“Here in Navua, we don’t get to see MPs visit us every day and it was an achievement for me to have sung with him in the crowd. Deo is a very good singer and it was good to have him come to Navua and sing with me,” he added.

Usually singers are influenced or encouraged by elder family members who are in the field already, but it wasn’t the case for Kumar.

He said there weren’t any bhajan singers in his family before him as the interest grew when he started going to the temple in his community.

“I remember I was in Class 4. That was in 1991. Going to the temple and seeing people singing bhajan and kirtan (devotional poetry), that’s when my interest grew. 1991 was the year when my first recording took place by one of the radio companies,” said Kumar.

Bhajan singing is an interest Kumar has, but he drives a taxi as he is the breadwinner of his family.

He says that his field of work gives him time to prepare for his competitions and to think of new lines.

“It is important for an artist to keep updating his list of songs and you need time for that. I used to run a shop before and could hardly take out time, but now I am driving a taxi and I have plenty time. I usually keep humming when I am waiting for passengers to board my taxi and new ideas keep coming to my mind.”

Kumar appreciated the support of his family who had made sacrifices for his success in the bhajan field.

“They have supported me all the way. I have sacrificed quality family time to keep alive my bhajan career and they have to be credited for that. There were times when I had to sacrifice family events to be part of bhajan competitions,” he added.

Apart from bhajan singing, Kumar also specialises in kirtan and lokgeet (folk songs).
His next competition is scheduled for November.

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