The occasion of Maha Shivratri was made all the more special by Vrindan Foundation of Culture & Art with a musical baithak. An intimate setting of not more than 15-17 people, musicians and audience sitting together with no barriers in between and what followed was an evening full of music and devotion.
The name of the event was 'Damru', a perfect ode to Lord Shiva.
This was sort of my initiation into Hindustani classical music. The conventional illusion of Hindi Classical Music being boring and slow broke for me that day. With every beat of the tabla, every string stuck of the Mohan Veena and every tune coming out of the Flute, it was as if every cell of your body understands the music and surrenders to it.
My understanding of spiritualism and religion is shaken, however, while listening to that music, it felt like there was a higher place somewhere called 'swarga', this is the music that must be played there and if there was any way of connecting with self, it has to be this. It made me believe that music is much more than mere entertainment, it possesses the power of healing and it indeed is important for one's well-being.
The event started with an invocation of Lord Shiva through a Kathak piece by Archana Singh, a well-known exponent of Kathak. This was followed by Aruganshu, one of the founders of Vrindan, addressing the gathering. According to him, the event and all the other projects by this foundation are not to promote Indian classical art but to maintain the well-being of every individual through the medium of music. By the end of the event, it became very clear what he meant.
The first event of the evening was 'Drums of India' by Mani Prasad on Nakkara, Sujoy Chakravarty on Srikhol and Aruganshu Chaudhary on Tabla. Through this piece, the percussionist's trio tried to replicate the sound of Damru, the instrument to which Lord Shiva danced and that's exactly what they did. Every beat was deliberate and perfect, the speed with which their fingers worked was unreal. Music certainly has the power to take us to unknown places, make us feel things we didn't know we could feel, and no matter how much you resist it, your body starts grooving to the rhythm of tabla beats. What played a major role in making that music so impactful was there was nothing between the artist and the audience. No speakers, no amplifiers, just pure music emerging from the acoustic Indian classical instruments and traveling straight to the audience.
The next section of the event was named Blue Moon by Dipankar Roy on Mohan Veena, a Hindustani Classical innovation of sliding hawwain Guitar and Saubhagya Gandharv on flute ably supported by Sujoy Chakravarty on Tabla. While Tabla was the hero in the previous piece, here, the other two instruments took over. The trio played Yaman Kalyan Raag and it seemed as if Mohan Veena and Flute were conversing with each other with the backdrop of consistent tabla beats. That music, with eyes closed, was euphoric.