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Moods of “Ashta Prahar” Musically Unfolded by CICMH

By Sunil Pangarkar

HOUSTON: On November 19th at the Old Stafford Civic Center, the Center for Indian Classical Music of Houston (CICMH), in its biennial “Saadhana Unmesh” concert focused on a special aspect of the Time Theory of Hindustani classical music. Pandit Suman Ghosh has been holding Saadhana Unmesh programs in Houston since 2004 to mark, celebrate, encourage and present the blossoming of his disciples in Hindustani classical music. The impact and following of Panditji’s activities grew to a point where it was appropriate to establish an organization dedicated to the cause of Indian classical music and musicians and since 2009, the Saadhana Unmesh program has been organized by CICMH, founded by Pandit Suman Ghosh.

‘Unmesh’ is symbolically the blossoming of a flower. Saadhana Unmesh as a program itself has blossomed over time. From a few early stage buds, the program itself is developing into a brand like the Shalimar Gardens. Any person, who knows anything about gardens and blossoming of beautiful flowers, knows that it takes a lot of effort and attention to details before the colors and fragrances become captivating.

The 2011 Saadhana Unmesh in the words of the discerning audience left no stone unturned in that respect. It was a complete event!

The theme of the performance was depicting the vista of the Time Theory of Hindustani classical music. Around 90 students in ages ranging from 4 to 84yrs and seniority ranging from 6 months to 8yrs performed. They performed in four groups called Sthayi, Antara, Sanchari and Abhog – just as a traditional Hindustani classical composition progresses. The first group sang the early morning raags in a time sequence as per the “prahar” and its mood and the second group sang the late morning raags. The third group sang the afternoon to early twilight raags and added the seasonal dimension of Monsoon to the vista – an additional mood-based categorization in Hindustani music.

This composition by Pandit Suman Ghosh on raag Miyan ki Malhar added a completely new and fresh complexion to the lyrics of “Vande Mataram”. The final group sang the dusk (late twilight) to dawn raags, thus completing the 24 hour cycle or the “Ashta Prahar” (eight prahars: each of 3hr duration).  True to the traditional free flowing style of rendering in Hindustani music, Pt. Ghosh himself joined the singing, to the audiences’ delight, and also provided the support on harmonium. All groups were accompanied on Tabla by Shri Nishad Kanhere, another fellow Houstonian with a musical lineage.

Over 400 audiences was spellbound for 4 hours and remained glued to their seats other than few standing ovations and an intermission. This was indeed due to the spectacular music performance, thought, planning, effort, décor and flow of the program. The program reminded me both of the beautifully choreographed fountains of Vrindavan Garden and the totally temperamental Monsoon rains both with a charm of its own. When Pandit-ji initially planned for the program, the singing part was to be a compact 90min affair. As happens in any lively program – it extended to over 2-1/2hrs of singing.

Pt. Ghosh was presented with a proclamation from the city of Sugar Land by City Councilman Harish Jajoo, recognizing his contribution to music. Sonal Bhuchar, president of the Fort Bend School Board of Trustees, thanked him for giving the gift of India’s rich tradition of music to the youngsters.

While praising the performance, Ajit Thakur, CPA and President-elect of Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH), added humor by recommending Pt. Ghosh to take his music to a partisan U.S. Congress, to unify them!  Ajit-ji had hit on a very subtle point through that humorous remark.

CICMH and Pandit Suman Ghosh has been the glue in unifying Americans of Indian origin to their tradition. Saadhana Unmesh as a program has come to be a true symbol of unity, diversity and growth through creativity.


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One Response to Moods of “Ashta Prahar” Musically Unfolded by CICMH

  1. palangkaraya,kalteng,antara July 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks for some other great post. Where else may anyone get that type of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am at the look for such information.

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