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Meeta Pandit enthralls with her thumris and horis

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The festival of colours is an integral part of our traditional culture. So much so that even the Moghul court hosted and joined the festivities on the occasion of Holi.

The Emperor and his court actively participated in the colour spraying and the dance and song sequences which accompanied it. Traditionally, Holi in Vrindavan, which is supposed to be the abode of Lord Krishna, forms the backdrop of the festival of colours. Lord Krishna, his consort Radha, as well as other maids who are also called 'gopis' indulge in the game of colours. This forms the main theme of Holi songs which are sung by Hindustani singers.

The austere 'dhrupad' form of music begins with an elaborate 'alap' which portray the raga. Yet it is followed up with a 'dhamar' song which is set to a 14 beat 'dhamar taal'. This songs describes the fun and frolicking in which the Lord and his female friends engage.

The Vallabh Ashram at Sion has been an old venue and a centre of classical music. It decided to host a concert on the occasion of 'Holi'.The artiste they had selected was none other than the doyenne of the Gwalior 'gharana' Meeta Pandit. She is the grand-daughter of the great Krishnarao Shankar Pandit and daughter of the eminent vocalist Laxmanrao Pandit. Meeta has inherited a great tradition and she carries it with a due sense of responsibility and dignity. She sang an unusual Holi song which depicted the colour spraying in which Lord Ram and Seeta indulged. It is called 'Avadh Ki Hori'.

Like many 'hori' songs , it is based on the raga 'Kafi'. Meeta nicely explored the aesthetic content of the song and communicated the same to the listeners. Her voice soared to the highest note without any difficulty and the 'murkees' and 'khatkas' which characterised her illustrious granfather's music were all there. She began with the raga 'Puriya Dhanashree' in which she sang a breezy composition and a 'tarana' by Ringeguruji.  Mandar Puranik on the tabla, Sangeet Mishra on the sarangi and Niranjan Lele on the harmonium lent superb support.

'Mahila Sangeet Sammelan' conceptualised by another Gwalior 'gharana' veteran Neela Bhagwat was a roaring success. It began with a santoor recital by young Manali Dani who played the raga 'Yaman'. Traditional 'thumris' were given a new interpretation and rendered by Vedantika Mukherjee, Vidya Khandwe and Neela Bhagwat herself. Percussion support was given by Mukta Raste, Dhananshree Nageshkar Wagh and Nupur Kulkarni. The programme was ably compered by Kavita Shanbhag.

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