Samandar Manganiar was born in 1971 in the village of Jhaphli Kalan [Barmer] in the western desert region of Rajasthan. He belongs to a family of hereditary professional musicians and was initiated in music from his early childhood. He learnt the traditional art of Manganiar Singing and Composing as well as playing the Khartaal from his father, Akademi Awardee, late Ustad Siddique Manganiar. He learnt Jaangda style of singing from late Ustad Bhoongar Khan.
The art of playing the khartaal simultaneously while rendering the song was taken to its zenith by Ustad Siddique Manganiar, also known as the father of khartaal-playing and a guru to many in the art. Samandar has proved himself to be a worthy scion of the Ustad and is the leading representative of his father’s style of khartaal-playing which is unique in its musicality and for attractive hand and body movements akin to dancing, while the eyes capture the audiences’ attention, depicting the mood of the song.
He has mastered a large repertoire of the traditional songs of the Manganiar community which he renders with great verve and sensitivity. His repertoire is so extensive that he has often enthralled audiences in night-long concerts. Not only has Samandar earned a name as a performer of Shringaar songs, Jaangda, Veer-gaatha, Maand, Bhajans, etc., he is an outstanding Sufi singer who sings a wide range of poetry by Amir Khusro, Shah Latif, kaafis by Sachal Saain, Badal Nath and Rohil Saain, Bulle Shah, Kanwar Bhagat, and hymns dedicated to Pirs.
For his compositions and various recordings made for Music Today, Veena Cassettes, All India Radio, TV, and films, he is recognized today as a leading Music Composer of Rajasthani, Sufi and Creative music. Experimenting with various fusion forms, Samandar has sung and shared stage space with, worked on music compositions, and, recorded with some of the leading musicians, artists, music directors and film makers of India and abroad. He has sung with and provided musical accompaniment to the two leading popular divas of the subcontinent-Abida Parveen from Pakistan and Shubha Mudgal, and others like Sanam Marvi from Pakistan, Konkana Bannerjee, Anuradha Pal, late Ustad Sultan Khan, Shiva Mani, Hans Raj Hans; whirling dervishes from Turkey, Abdul Karim Al-Kably's group of musicians from Sudan, Mahsa Vahdat and others from Iran; Sultana Choudhuri with Bauls and Runa Laila from Bangladesh; Nurul Hasan Qawwal from Awadh; and Ghulam Nabi Namtahali from Kashmir. He has worked with a group of Flamenco dancers and musicians led by Ms. Zacky from Spain; the Jazz music group lead by Mr. Hanks from Netherlands and the Tanttz Group of dancers from Berlin, Germany.
He has recently made a very successful collaboration with world famous fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani, providing live music for his fashion events.
He has worked with Muzaffar Ali several times in his international Sufi productions Jahan-e-Khusro in Delhi and Jaipur, Sada-e-Sufi in Chandigarh, Punjab, and Sufi Sartaj in Kashmir. He has worked with film personalities Gulzar and Bhupen Hazarika on composing Assamese, Marathi, Bengali and Gujrati songs and music for children at the Children’s Film Festival in Udaipur. Samandar was part of an Audio CD of Folk Music by A.R. Rehman. He composed music and sang for the French adaptation of Girish Karnad’s play, Hayavadan, at Asia Drama Festival in Limo, France, in 1997 directed by Asil Raish and Aryen Muskin of France.
He has worked with many dancers of India, among them, Kathak and Bharatnatyam gurus and performers like Padma Subrmanyam, Shashi Sankhla, Mallika Sarabhai, Shobhana Narayan, Chetna Jalan, Rajendra Gangani, Manjari Chaturvedi and Rekha Thakar.
Samandar has been working with Kathak dancer, Anurag Verma on the concept of Sampravaahi: The Confluent Streams, a presentation where Manganiar Folk Music and Jaipur Gharaana Kathak traditions flow together, aiming, through their choice of repertoire and manner of presentation, to preserve and bring to the fore gems of Rajasthani musical compositions that are today in the danger of being lost forever out of neglect.
Samandar also has to his credit a long experience of serving the people of his region through NGOs like Lok Rang Parishad, and Folk Heritage Foundation supported by Government of Rajasthan and UNICEF, Jaipur, taking up projects like organizing the Lok Rang Shala - a residential camp in Shiv, Barmer, for conservation and promotion of Manganiar Music; promoting the singing styles of traditional Manganiar women singers; conducting Workshops for manufacturing rare Rajasthani musical instruments like the Kamaayacha, Surinda, Saarangi, Sataara, Saraai Dhol and Khartaal; besides many other educational, social, development schemes and projects for the welfare of rural areas, such as those for the Kanjar community.
Samandar has been honoured with the National Youth Cultural Award by Nehru Yuva Kendra, Government of India; the Hukum Singh Award by Hukum Singh Foundation of Jodhpur; and the Music World Series 2002 Award by Rasa of Netherlands. Samandar features in the Best of Rajasthan list of artists in the Department of Tourism, Art and Culture, Government of Rajasthan, and is an empanelled artist with the ICCR.