The spirit of Kashi was celebrated with an array of visual and aural arts.
It was indeed a highly interesting and informative four-day event, `Celebrating Kashi - The Eternal City' recently held at the India International Centre in coordination with Jnana Pravaah. This event was inaugurated by MGK Menon, the president of the IIC. The keynote address was delivered by L.M. Singhvi. The programme displayed photographs of ghats, important buildings, temples, fairs and festivals, lilas, rituals, dramas, lifestyle, music and other subjects associated with Varanasi, whose traditional name is Kashi. There were interesting displays through photographs and originals of sculptures, terracotta, painting, textiles, jewellery and decorative art as well. There was Vedic chanting one evening and a film show the next. The concluding evening was a happy finale to the event with the programme `A Musical Experience' featuring a Hindustani vocal recital by Manju Sundaram - a senior disciple of Girija Devi. Manju is essentially a singer of light classical music such as the thumri, dadra, chaiti, kajri and the like. But on this particular occasion she commenced her recital with Maharshi Ved Vyas' ashtakams (shlokas) on Lord Vishwanath and followed this up with Adi Shankaracharya's Kashi Panchakam. Prior to rendering these she gave a brief translation of these in English. The first Ved Vyas ashtakam and Adi Shankaracharya's Kashi Panchakam were soulfully sung in ragas Bhopali and Kalavati. She however excelled with the thumri "Ankheeyan rasili tori Shyam" in raga Khamaj. She developed the song with colourful renderings of bol-banao. She next sang a liltingly conceived dadra in raga Bhairavi, "Padi gaylee neherwa mein daag". With the Basant Panchami to be soon followed with the festival of colour Holi, Manju rendered a lively song in Maanjh Khamaj, "Rang daroongi Nand ke laan pe". She concluded with a charmingly rendered song which was an ode to the nightingale or the koel. She had excellent accompaniment on the sarangi by Bharat Bhushan Goswami, on the harmonium by Vinay Mishra and on the tabla by Vinod Lele.