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Devotional, digital Deepavali

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Two double albums to coincide with the festival

Remember the heyday of radio? One woke up at 4 a.m. on Deepavali day and having fired a single patas, switched on the radio where the southern stations of All India Radio could be depended on to broadcast the warm notes of the nadaswaram. If you were the devout kind, you rounded up the family for joint prayers before letting the kids get at the sweets. That was yesterday. Say hello to a new digital dawn of Deepavali, when it is perhaps considered bad manners to wake up the neighbourhood too early in the morning; when the senior member of the family who could lead the prayers is no longer around. For those who still long for the sounds of a spiritual Deepavali as a background to the festivities, help is at hand: Times Music has just released a two-CD (or two-cassette) album, Shubh Deepavali (CDs: Rs.390; cassettes: Rs.125), which brings together some 30 tracks appropriate to the festival of lights. Veteran bhakti singers like Suresh Wadkar, Usha Mangeshkar, Kavita Krishnamurti, Shweta Pandit and others, render the Gayatri Mantra, Surya Prarthana, Ashtalakshmi Stotram, Kuber Stuti, Shiva Prarthana and other devotional songs and arathis. The album is a reworking of two albums released earlier, entitled Prayers of Diwali and Shubham. It is accompanied by a richly coloured booklet, with the full text of the prayers in the Devanagiri script, and a useful tutorial on the significance on the five days of the Deepavali festival. Also seasonal, though not exclusively angled at Deepavali, is the other two-CD album, Sampooorna Aarti Sangrah (CDs:Rs 295; cassettes: Rs.150) - a sort of `arthis for all occasions' collection by mostly the same singers. There are special Saibaba arthis from the Shirdi Temple and others in praise of Hanuman, Sri Krishna and Ganga mata. Ghazal king Jagjit Singh renders a soulful Ganesha Deva aarthi. An arathi text booklet accompanies the album. For an age when parents long to pass on traditional and devotional virtues to their children but may lack the necessary skills, these digital aids may come as a welcome musical assistance. ANAND PARTHASARATHY

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