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Ragas Institute presents Kathak dance and Hindustani classical music at its annual event
If music be the food of love, play on, said Shakespeare, and rightly so.
Music can help bridge a gap between languages, communities and nationalities.
People across the globe acknowledge it as a universal healer and it has no limitations of creed, race or boundaries.
The 3rd annual recital by Ragas Institute at Berwick on 31 October was indeed, food for the soul.
Who would have thought that, miles away from the Indian subcontinent, you could still enjoy the essence of Indian music and dance in this fashion?
Ragas Institute is the brainchild of Pooja Gupta who moved to Australia in 2008. She is a performing Ghazal singer who also holds a Visharad or Bachelor’s degree in music, and is an active member of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.
She also has a Madhyama (Diploma) in Kathak from Bhaatkhande Sangit Vidyapeeth Lucknow. The evening was a beautiful union of Kathak and Hindustani classical music.
Indian classical music has two sub-genres Carnatic (South Indian) and Hindustani (North Indian) genre.
Hindustani classical music is a tradition that originated in Vedic ritual chants and has been evolving since 12th century CE.
Kathak is one of the oldest dance forms in Northern India. The term Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word katha meaning story and kathakka meaning one who tells the story.
There are three gharanas (traditions) of Kathak – Jaipur, Lucknow and Varanasi.
The evening began with Aadi Pujit Ganesh Vandana (on raag Shankara based on taal tevra) by young guns Chavi, Riya, Misha and Hiren.
Paniya Bharan by Vandana (based on raag Tilak Kamod in taal dadra) followed this.
The next performance of Na Manungi by Meghna on Raag Khamaj was about a wife upset with her husband, while the youngest kids, Misha, Hiren and Arjun brought to life Chaturang based on raag Bagyashree.
The students then presented beautiful formations of Kathak on teen taal.
Jab se piya pardes by Parvinder, based on raag Yaman, brought out the angst of loneliness while the same expression was beautifully presented in another Kathak formation by Sejal, Jess and Trisha.
In between, we also heard the stories behind the Raga Institute’s success.
Students shared various anecdotes and incidents from their practice sessions and how Pooja influenced each of them to bring out their best.
Indeed, it takes a good teacher to strike a balance between a full time job, her passion and her family life, to excel in all the spheres of life.
Devyani and Bhumi’s Tarana on raag. Yaman was as beautiful and mesmerising as the Chota Khayal presented by Aussie lad Kishore on raag Bhairav.
Nigel and Sagarika presented the song Hori on raag Kaafi.
Manisha, Ridhima and Devi presented Chota Khayal on raag Vrindavani Sarang.
Manvi, Nikita and Nidhi also excelled in their presentations.
The evening ended on a melodious note with rare gems like Chap tilak and Hazaro khwaishei aisi by the master herself, Pooja Gupta.
The warmth of Indian music filled the air and stayed on till long after.