The raags and compositions of festive season – Diwali

IMG_20151011_204641A new trend in cities of Maharashtra like Pune, Mumbai , Thane , Nasik etc, is to have early morning concerts during the festive Diwali season. This has not been a tradition for very long .. It could be less than 10-15 years old.

I was however wondering if the Indian Classical Music (ICM) had any special raags / compositions specially for the festive , joyous , celebratory occasion ?
Some of the arguments that I have encountered against ICM are that :
1) ICM is meant for selected group of connoisseurs with spiritual inclination through music
2) It is more suitable for a spiritual blissful experience than the worldly celebration like Diwali.
3) For celebrations like Diwali in a community , ICM is not suitable and pop/light music makes more sense.
4) The ICM performers are too reserved for a truly community based celebration. They have an attitude and demand special treatment !

While I personally neither agree or disagree with the above arguments , I do tend to corroborate with the fourth point above.
While some ICM vocalists are extremely animated others are stoic. Some perform with stressful overtures , odd facial expressions giving a perception that they are trying too hard beyond their limits.
I personally prefer vocalist that perform at ease without such odd facial expressions. Performing at ease maintaining a consistent level and quality is the true hallmark of a professional performer. Indian Classical Musicians , sometimes take the audience for granted and do not follow this basic tenet of performance. They unapologetic-ally cough , talk , make various noises , pretend as if they are doing a favor to the audience by performing etc. These things takes the young crowd away from them.

Coming back to the point .. what are some of the special raags / compositions that are performed during festive seasons especially Diwali ?
It is well known that ICM has some raags specifically for certain seasons like spring .. Basant. There are also compositions like hori , kajri , jhoola that are considered as light-classical music , performed during the festive season of spring/basant panchami in Northern India.

Therefore , I specifically searched for the raags or compositions that were composed for the purpose of Deepavali (Diwali) celebration having a joyful-playful mood , being light and having a festive feel.
I came up with the following :

1) Parmeshwari by Pt Ravishankar that encompasses Raag  Bageshree and Ahir Bhairav

2) Deepavali by Pt Pannalal Ghosh that has flavors of Yaman and Lalit, also has shades of Puriya Kalyan

3) DhanBasanti by Pt Kumar Gandharva that seems to be a combination of Basant and Sohoni or Bhoop

4) Dhanakoni Kalyan by Pt CR Vyas ( Yaman without Dhaivat , similar to Carnatic melkarta raag Vachaspati )

Other raags that radiate happiness bliss and festivities in some of their bandishes are :

Shivmat Bhairav ( a mix of Bhairav , Bhairavi and Todi)

Basant Mukhari ( Bhairav + Bhairavi )

Gopika Basant ( A mix of Asavari and Malkauns)

Nat Bhairav

Chandrakauns (similar to Parmeshwari and Jogkauns )

NandKauns ( a mix of Jog and Malkauns)

ShubhKalyan (also known as Jansammohini in carnatic) and the ever popular Kalavati that is profusely used in film music. It is said that Subh Kalyaan was a signature raag of Pt Vasantrav Deshpande who created it as a “happy” variant of Marwa !

The other raags that radiate happiness, joy and festivity by themselves are Hindol, Hindol Basant ( a trade mark of Pt Ulhas Kashalkar) and Sohoni. Raag Kaafi , thaat Kaafi in general that includes Bageshree seems to be a primary scale or thaat ,that has the moods of festivities.

Note : The blogpost is not intended to be an academic note but simply an observation of a fan of Indian Classical Music. Any comments /corrections / suggestions are most welcome.


About Prasad Bhave

Clinical Scientist / Healthcare Informatics Consultant
This entry was posted in Diwali, Hindustani Classical Music, Indian Classical Music, Raags of Festive Season and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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