Past continuous

THE OCCASION was Shiv Ratri. And the means to celebrate it musically was Dhrupad. For threenights and two days this past week, the musical mysticism of the occasionwas kept at its peak in the form of Dhrupad at Dhrupad Teerth (Tulsi Ghat) in Varanasi. More than three dozen artistes from all over India paid their homage to ragas and talas with their gifted voices, to the accompaniment of pakhawaj, surbahar, sitar and vichitra veena in this national event - Dhrupad Mela. It was the 30th celebration of this old tradition organised by Maharaja Banaras Vidyamandir Nyas.

Eminent Dhrupadia Ritwik Sanyal started the musical series by enunciating raga Bhinneshwari. This lesser known raga had been first heard with the Rudra veena of the late Ustad Zia Moiuddeen Dagar. Although it has the shadow of the raga Bhinna Shadja, but the use of Rishabh is different here with the twin uses of Nishad. Musically evolved in the Dagar tradition, Sanyal presented this raga in modern accents with all its components including nom-tom alap, and melodic components, the sthayi, the antara, the sanchari and the abhoga. Finally, he presented his favourite raga Hanskinkani, "Har Har Mahadav Shambhu" in Shul tala (of 10 matras) accompanied by Tapas Kumar.

Next outstanding vocal performance was by Hussain Sayeeddin Dagar. Sayeeddin Dagar, who performed three ragas altogether, has been gracing this platform for more than 25 years. He belongs to the unbroken lineage of the illustrious Dagar family of Dhrupad music propagated by Baba Gopal Das Pande (Behram Khan) of Jaipur. He has kept this tradition alive and represents the 19th generation along with brothers, the late Padmabhushan Ustad Aminuddin Khan Dagar, Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Khan Dagar, the late Ustad N. Zahiruddin Khan Dagar and late N. Faiyazuddin Khan Dagar. His father, the late Ustad Hussainuddin Khan Dagar (alias Tansen Pandey of Kolkata) was his first guru, from whom he started learning at the age of six. After the death of his father in 1963, in Kolkata, he learnt extensively from the late Padmabhushan Ustad Rahimuddin Khan Dagar. Later, he took training under his brothers. He first touched the scent of raga Vihag with raga alap. Having delineated the raga by singing the notes from the lower and middle registers, usually the artiste approaches the notes of the upper register by touching the tar Shadja and then proceeds to the notes beyond, covering those that form the raga, but here, the ustad made the performance simple and vibrant with traditional temple lineage.

Next was the raga Jaijaivanti. Usually, this raga is considered somewhat romantic, played at night. This raga uses the notes Rishabh (both Komal and Shuddha), Gandhar, Madhyam, Dhaivat and Nishad (both Komal and Shuddha) in its scale and thus, can be considered on the border between Khamaj and Kafi thaats. Its important notes are Re and Pa, which are the vadi and samvadi, respectively. There are, however, two types or variants of the raga - one which resembles raga Desh or Sorath, and the other resembling raga Bageshwari. The two differ only in their manner of ascent (aroha), but have similar avaroha. The desh-anga is so-called because its aroha resembles the ascent of Desh (and Sorath.) It is supposed to be the older form, and is used for Dhrupad. But here, the effect was consciously different. That's why, the final touch of raga Adana was also very different. The recital began with the tanpura, followed by the singer taking the note Madhya Sa and holding it for almost a minute, first as the sound Om, and then intoning ananta and so on. The other memorable vocal presentations were raga Kedar by Kailash Pawar, Bhupali and Desh by Salama (disciple of H. Sayeeduddin Dagar) and of Lopamudra Chakraborty, Selina Thielmann and Sanchita Todi. Pakhawaj was well played by Ramakant Pathak, Akhilesh Gundecha and Chitrangana Agle. Chitrangana is the only woman pakhawaj player from Indore. Similarly, Radhika Umerkar played the vichitra veena and Ravindra Narayan Goswami played the surbahar with efficiency.


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