Celebrating monsoon with Raag Malhaar

Celebrating monsoon with Raag Malhaar

Celebrating monsoon with Raag Malhaar

In India, rains, especially monsoon showers, are a cause of joy and happiness. There is no better way than welcoming the rain than with music and dance as it has a special place in our hearts.

Classical music and dance lovers had an audio and visual treat with legends of Hindustani classical music and dance invoking the gods of rain with their performances based on Raag Malhaar.

The three-day Malhaar Festival, organised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), concluded with mystic and magnificent performances by Hindustani classical vocalist Madhumita Ray and a multi-faceted Kathak exponent Vidha Lal.

Jam-packed Kamani Auditorium was filled with thunderous applause as Madhumita started singing compositions based on the Raag. While there was expression of love and joy associated with monsoon in her compositions, she also presented a song based on pain that comes with having parted from the loved one.

As she finished singing a Kajri, barsan lagi sawan bundiya, shyam bin laagy na mora jiya, the audience belonging to all age groups could not stop themselves from asking for more.
On popular demand, this performance was followed up by the semi-classical composition of a jhoola – dheere dheere jhoolao. All these compositions were based on Malhaar, which is performed from June to September. Though Madhumita has experimented with other genres like fusion, her performance this time was based mainly in conventional genre.

Her hour-long performance was followed by Kathak dancer Vidha Lal’s classical moves. Vidha’s performance opened with the thundering sound of lightening and beautiful effects giving a magical heavenly ambience in the auditorium. An exponent  of Jaipur gharana Vidha holds the Guinness World Record for maximum Kathak dance spins or chakkars (103) in one minute. Here also, she spun the magic of her chakkars much to the delight of those present.

The festival, which is being organised by ICCR since 2004, opened with the performance of Hindustani vocalists – Meeta Pandit and Bharatanatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan. The second day had Uma Garg and Odissi dancer Shubhada Varadkar.

The festival is organised every year at the beginning of the monsoon to lure the God of rain. Many great artists of medieval period and much earlier period used to sing this raag. Mian Tansen, Baiju Bawra, Baba Ramdas, Nayak Charju, Mian Bakshu, Bilas Khan (son of Tansen) and Meera are among the singers who are said to have been capable of starting rains using variations of Raag Malhaar.

Raag Malhaar has been popular in Hindi films too. K L Saigal sang Diya Jalao (raga Deepak) for the film Tansen in 1943 after which he sang Baagh laga doon sajni in Raag Malhaar. Naushad Ali used it in Mother India to herald the rainy season with the song Dukh bhare din beetay re bhaiya, ab sukh aayo re. Songs based on Malhaar also be found in Sai Paranjpe’s Chashme Buddoor.

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