Celebrating the season of mellow fruitfulness

Celebrating the season of mellow fruitfulness

classical notes

Popular cultural organisation Praxitelean celebrated its annual programme based on the theme of ‘Basantotsav’ at Alliance Française de Delhi recently. The colourful spectacle highlighted the different aspects of celebrating Basant in India, including the sufi tradition.

“Scientific rationality and cultural aesthetics and social relevance - these we are trying to build in a complex chemistry,” says Subhendu Ghosh, founder and director of Pratidhwani. 
The first part of the event, which was conceptualised by Yousuf Saeed, covered a select number of compositions of Amir Khusrau, popular for his poetry that contains the tenets of Sufism as well as the colours of human nature. The rendition was by Subhendu Ghosh who was accompanied by Abhijeet Aich on tabla and Zakir Mahmood Dholpuri on harmonium.

Apart from Khusrau, other compositions related to the season were presented, such as one on Holi composed by Gauhar Jaan, the popular singer of the 19-20th century and Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Ghosh who studied under Late Ustad Hafeez Ahmed Khan of Rampur Gharana expressed concern about the growing tendency to give “all events and festivals a communal or religious tone”. Therefore, in this particular event he emphasised the “secular tradition associated with the season of celebrating the coming mellow weather after the harshness of winter.”
The event marked Basant Panchami, the day associated across northern India with worship of Saraswati, the goddess of learning. Classical musicians and dancers are among those who pay homage to Saraswati as the embodiment of knowledge rather than as only a Hindu goddess. Heedful of the dual association of the day, the other performance of the evening was an Odissi recital by Meerambika Mohapatro, a disciple of Guru Kumkum Lal. 

Mohapatro commenced her performance with Manglacharan, an attempt to celebrate Basant Panchami with a Saraswati vandana.  It was followed by Shankravaran Pallavi, an exposition of lyrical and graceful movements, music and rhythm. In the finale Moksh, the dance moved into a crescendo to liberate the soul. Finally, she concluded with a song by Amir Khusrau to rejoice the confluence of secular knowledge and art that co-exists without boundaries. Sharon Lowen, renowned Odissi dancer who has performed and choreographed for films and television and presented hundreds of concerts throughout India was present as the chief guest for the evening.