ITC SRA Holi Milan 2015
When spring has sprung and the cuckoos have started cuckooing incessantly, the gardens of the ITC Sangeet Resarch Academy come alive with splendid blossoms of the season. But colours do not appeal to one’s visual perception alone. Holi, the spring festival, is as much about spraying ‘abir’ on one another as it is about rejuvenating the soul with the many hues of nature.
The Holi Milan programme at ITC SRA is the byword for the spirit of spring.
The 86-year-young Girija Devi, doyenne of the Benares gharana and undisputed Empress of Thumri, presides over its Holi celebration.
Like every year, this year too she was at the centre of the festivities, singing, laughing and affecting everyone with her cheerful magnetism. In a rose pink silk sari, the diamond on her nose and her paan-lined lips mocking at her lovely long white braided hair, Appaji – as she is referred to by everyone at the Academy – presented Horis and Kajris with an energy that only she can conjure up.
For the large audience gathered at the Academy’s auditorium on Sunday, 8th March, it was as though colours had taken on distinctly auditory overtones. Not only did she sing herself, she also presented some of the Academy’s scholars. The youngsters did justice to the traditional numbers which are deeply rooted in classical ethos but have the spontaneity and emotional content of folk art forms. Nirbhay Saxena and Sripad Limbekar rendered ‘Nain gulal’, a Hori in Kafi, with commendable aplomb.
Sucheta Ganguly, Shoumi Roy and Piu Mukherjee, who gave vocal support to Girija Devi, impeccably trained by her, invested a lot of passion into ‘Dhum machi hai’, ‘Urata abir gulal’ and Holi khelana kaise jaun’. But, as expected, it was Girija Devi ji herself with her nuanced ‘bol banawat’ and her remarkable command over Ragas who communicated vivaciously to all members of the audience. She completely claimed the morning for herself.
And she saw to it the colours of spring flooded the hearts of all those present in the ITC SRA auditorium that was ready to burst at the seams.