India's spirituality contributes to the growth of opera singer Larissa Rai

Her Hindi can't exactly put many of us to shame but the choice of words and the way she uses them impresses nevertheless. Russian Opera singer Larissa Rai, in fact, tries to speak in Hindi as much as possible and can't fathom the fact that “Indians living in their own country, with their own people don't converse in their mother tongue.”

“Russians can learn Hindi faster and likewise Indians can grasp Russian quickly because Sanskrit and Russian language share many similarities. There are many similar words. When I have to scold my daughter, I deliberately choose Hindi because it's very soft and diplomatic,” says Larissa.

Hindi apart, Larissa likes many more things about the country she adopted as her home four years ago. For her, India on account of the spiritual wealth available here, is the first step to know anything in this world. “I feel so much at peace and satisfied here,” says the singer who has been practicing Sahaja Yoga for the last 20 years.

It's a way of meditation devised by spiritual guru Nirmala Devi based on the experience of self-realisation. The spiritual growth has contributed on the professional front as well. “My timbre is changing and understanding of the songs has increased,” explains the singer who teaches opera music at Russian Cultural Centre in Delhi.

The Indian connection

It was during the Sahaja Yoga conference in 1995, that she came to India and met her husband. “We met in the morning and got married the next day. When we were in Uzbekistan, I used to watch a lot of Hindi movies there. I would tell my mother that I would marry an Indian and it would be a different marriage and that's what happened. And I am very happy,” exclaims Larissa.

Back on the track of music, the artiste who learnt opera music for seven years at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory, feels, the western classical music and Indian classical music are similar in many ways. She also contemplated going to a music academy in Nagpur but then didn't go ahead with the plan.

“Then, I decided to concentrate on opera but I sing bhajans which I learnt on my own,” says Larissa who believes that Hindu god Shiva resides in the heart of every artist, be it a dancer, musician, singer or poet. “Shiva sits in our heart and everything comes from there for an artist. Voice is a reflection of the spirit and spirit is a reflection of God,” concludes Larissa.