The 7th Parampara Festival
- Tapati Chowdurie
June 18, 2017
Abhinaya Society in collaboration with Directorate of Cultural Affairs, Assam, presented the 7th Parampara Festival of Music and Dance on the 22nd and 23rd of May at Rabindra Bhawan, Guwahati, amidst great fanfare. The festival was a part of Abhinaya Society's endeavour to build bridges between artists and audience.
Assam has a rich tradition of music. Srimanta Sankaradeva, the bhakti saint, had composed the first Borgeet in 1488, almost at the same time that Dhrupad had started in the court of Mansingh in Gwalior. Borgeets are devotional lyrics set to different ragas. Prasanta Rajkhowa who has trained in Sankaradeva Sangha and has honed his skills from Late Guru Murari Mohan Sharma is an excellent singer of Borgeet, who gave an auspicious start to the program by evoking the spirit of devotion. The Borgeet was by Madhavdeva, disciple of Sankaradeva, in raag Shyam and taal dumani pori and sutkala.
Odissi dancer Dr. Anjana Moyee Saikia was the next to take the stage. She made a mark in the very popular piece "Ahe nila saila" by Salabega, a choreographic work of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. She deftly related three different episodes from the life of Krishna entreating him to shower his blessings on him and release him from his pains, just as Gajaraja, Draupadi and Bhakta Prahlad had been saved by him. Vocalist Joyprakash Medhi, a Bhatkhande product, sang in raga Megh Malhar, because of the season's proximity to the monsoon, in his wide ranging melodious voice.
Vidha Lal, a Jaipur gharana Kathaka and a disciple of Geetanjali Lal, put the stage on fire along with Sattriya dancer Anita Sharma, a disciple of Nrityacharya Jatin Goswami. The duo paid their obeisance to Krishna in their respective styles using the motifs of Krishna such as the peacock feather that adorns his head and vanamala worn round his neck etc. Their admiration for the little boy Krishna through the song "Sundara Gopala nayana vishala, gale vanamala" appealed to one and all. Kathak bols and Sattriya talas were interwoven into a fine tapestry using the usual imagery of Krishna, the butter thief reprimanded severely as well as intensely loved by Yashoda. The strut of the peacock was shown by Vidha Lal in a telling manner. Stories from Krishna's life were etched beautifully. Kathak dance, unlike Sattriya, takes a speed in its whirls and pirouettes, but the Sattriya performer matched the speed in a miraculous manner, which was rather remarkable. Both dancers performed shuddha nritya or pure dance in their respective genres consisting of Ramdani and bol ki bandish. In Kavith, the dancers drew attention to the similarities and the differences of the two forms again drawing reference to happenings in Krishna's life. Both the dancers going in endless circles reminded one of whirling dervishes.
Mandira Lahiri, a top disciple and daughter-in-law of Pandit Chinmoy Lahiri, endowed with a rich voice capable of delivering intricate nuances of whatever she sang, swept the audience off their feet vocalizing the fairly new raag Gorakh Kalyan, which is generally sung in the South system of ragas. Gorakh Kalyan is an Audav jati raag where five notes are applicable. She followed this up with Chaiti, since it was the month of Chaitra between Holi and Ram Navami when Chaitis are sung. Chaitis belong to the category of light-classical genre and are generally from U.P. and Bihar. She sang soulfully in Dipchandi taal "Baaj uthi sahnai ho Rama Chaitahi mashe." Mesmerized listeners could have continued hearing more, but Mandira concluded the evening with a Meera bhajan "Sanwara re mhari prit nibhajo ji" in Maand raag. Blessed with a melodious voice she sang her way into the hearts of the rasikas.
Sattriya dancer Meernanda Barthakur who has honed her skills from Nrityacharya Jatin Goswami opened her dance recital with 'Nandi' and "Aare nirantaro Hari bolo." She is at ease in both pure dance and expressional dance. Dance lovers thoroughly enjoyed her rendition of 'Usha Parinaya'-Wedding of Usha - because of her ability at storytelling through dance. Manoj Baruah who regaled the audience playing violin solo, is from a family of musicians associated with Maihar Gharana. Initially trained by Sulaya Banerjee, he further gained proficiency under Sisir Kana Dhar. His music touched the hearts of the rasikas.
Kuchipudi performer Vyjayanthi Kashi performed "Deham Devalaya Proktam" in raga Megh Malhar, which reminded one of the rains. The topic was inspired by the Gayatri Mantra chantings, the concept of the chakras and the rules that guide the opening number of Kuchipudi called 'Poorvaranga.' The choreography of the piece naturally stressed on spiritualism, which infused the dancers as well through a kaleidoscopic rhythm pattern. Every movement of 'anga', 'pratyanga' and body language of the performers mesmerized the audience, who basked in 'adhyatmik bhava' causing positive energy to flow all around. Physical form and life of human beings were explained in the language of dance. Fire was shown as the symbol of courage, air as the symbol of compassion that emanates from the chest and lungs, while the area of the throat is the symbol of space. Above the eyebrow level, ideas are converted into symbols. Intellect is the third eye that thinks and understands. Blissful, enlightenment is truth.
Physical movements are verily manifestations of Gouri. Speech and all forms of music are manifestations of Saraswati, costumes are manifestations of Mahalakshmi. Aatman, the auspicious one, manifests satvika abhinaya. All movements of the right side of Shiva's body are verily the manifestations of tandava and all the movements of the left side of the body are manifestations of lasya of Gouri. Sprouting of rasa is Virinchi, the creator, continuation of rasa is Vishnu, the protector and culmination of rasa is Mahesha, the destroyer of ahankar. Dance itself is the manifestation of the divine srishti-sthiti and laya - the divine game of creation, sustenance and destruction. Body is visualised as the temple where Jeeva the deity resides. The dance overladen with rich symbols was rendered in pristine style.
An abhinaya piece revolving around inseparable Radha and Krishna innovatively and imaginatively depicted sringara rasa. Without Radha, Krishna is incomplete and without Krishna, Radha can never be Radha. The eternal love birds were depicted by Vyjayanthi and her daughter Prateeksha, showing the stuff bhakti is made of. The Tarangam "Pahi pahi jaganmohana Krishna" from the well-known Krishnaleela Tarangini by St. Narayana Teertha is a text that recounts the life and events of Lord Krishna. Various are the literary and musical forms found in it that has been judiciously and aesthetically mixed in the piece. The dancers used various pada karmas and dances on the rim of brass plates. The brass plate is the symbol of 'Karmakanda'- one's field of activity. And the dancer is a Karma Yogi, highly disciplined with deep knowledge brought out through intricate footwork. Dancing on the rim is indicative of the human possibilities of reaching beyond the limits. The sweet strains of raga Amritavarshini made it all the more captivating. The dancers were all praise for Krishna, the delight of Devaki and Vasudeva, Nanda and Yasodha, whose beautiful face is like the full moon, with teeth white as jasmine, curly locks of hair, gentle smile fascinating. The dancers addressed Krishna who made sweet sounds with his anklets while standing on the rim of the brass plate delightfully designing intricate rhythmic patterns in vigorous tandava style in the vocabulary of Kuchipudi. The dancer commented on the humbling effect Krishna's dance causes in the devas. Mother and daughter rounded off their recital with the story of the hunch backed Kubja who gets back her former beauty with the blessings of Lord Krishna. It was quite a novel experience for the people in the North Eastern city of Guwahati to see Kuchipudi dance and enjoy its beauty.
The accompanying artists were Yogesh Gangani and Dibyojyoti Changmai on tabla, Santosh Kumar Sinha on Kathak vocal, Kusha Mahanto on khol, Prasanta Rajkhowa for Sattriya dance vocal and Prasanna Baruah on flute.
Tapati Chowdurie learnt dance for 10 years from Guru Gopinath in his dance institution Natana Niketan in Madras. For a brief period, she was with International Centre for Kathakali in New Delhi. Tapati has a Master's degree in English Literature and Bachelor's degree in Education. Presently, she is a freelance writer on the performing arts.