On the wheels of rhythm
The ongoing Shree Kshetra Utsav in Puri features a kaleidoscope of some of the best talent India has to offer.
THE PERFORMERS Kiran Segal
Shreekshetra or Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath enjoys a plethora of colourful festivals round the year, including the famous Ratha Yatra, the biggest religious spectacle, when lakhs of frenzied devotees pull the huge chariot of the deity to the accompaniment of deafening chants and incessant beating of drums and cymbals. Shree Kshetra Utsav, a 12-day extravaganza of art, culture and religions, offers the finest of handlooms, handicrafts, food, music and dance from the State to familiarise tourists with the little-known facets of this captivating city.
The Shree Jayadeva Odissi Sangeet Samaroh, a part of the Shreekshetra Utsav, was organised jointly by the Department of Tourism and Culture, Government of Orissa, the District Administration - Puri and the Orissa Sangeet Natak Academy recently. The open-air theatre adjacent to the Dashaavataar Mattha on the Saradhabali of Puri was the thoughtful venue, where Jayadeva the legendary poet lived and wrote the musical epic Geetagovind in the 12th Century. Shree Jayadev Odissi Sangeet Samaroh was conceived and presented in such a way that it showcased not only all the three aspects of sangeet, that is geetam (vocal music), vadyam (instrumental music) tatha nrityam (and dance), but also sahitya, literature.
The festival was flagged off with "Shrita Kamala... " from the Geetagovind, presented in chorus by the Orissa Sangeet Parishad, Puri. This was followed by Janana presented by the Orissa Sangeet Natak Academy. Typically Oriya in content and flavour, Janana speaks of the spiritual bonding of the individual soul with God. These devotional songs were presented soulfully by Sikandar Aalam and Tripti Das along with other artistes of repute.
The traditional mahari (similar to devadasi) dance presented as an offering to God in the temples of Orissa in olden times was revived and presented by the Udayan Sanskritic Academy under the guidance of Shashimoni and Parasmani, the last living maharis.
The dancing group even felicitated the two women who had painstakingly guided them even in their authentic aaharya (dress and ornaments). The evening concluded with Madhavi Mudgal and troupe, who mesmerised the audience with the elegance and sophistication of their Odissi dance choreography, from the opening Jagannathashtakam to the concluding Moksha.
There was a rich variety of vocal and instrumental music throughout the festival with virtually no repetition. Each evening started with a chorus invocation from the Geetagovinda to malashree, a typical form of poetry. Apart from the Janana Sandhya presented the first evening, there was a Bhajan Sandhya, an evening of devotional songs, besides a Chhanda Sandhya that belonged to Panchali lyrics and ballads emphasising the literary potential of the poetry. Then there was Jaga O Akhada Sangeet Sandhya, a unique feature of the holy city of Puri, and the Champu Sandhya based on the champu kavya of Kavisurya Baldev Ratha, where each song starts with a certain leter of the alphabet from `Ka' to `Ksha'. The songs are set to classical ragas, the style of singing is traditional and the champus are an integral part of Oriya literature and the Odissi music tradition.
The Odissi Vadya Vichitra comprising banshi, veena, mardala and khol, presented by Mohini Mohan Patnaik and group, and the presentation by eight talented mardal players of the Mardal Academy, Bhubaneshwar, under the able guidance of Guru Dhaneswar Swain, were the highlights of the instrumental music presented during the Samaroh.
The Gotipua Nritya by the Abhinna Sundar Gotipua Nritya Parishad was amazing in the breathtaking acrobatics of their bandha nritya. The Odissi dance drama `Kanchi Vijaya' presented by Bhanja Kala Kendra, Rourkela, was a neat production. The Shree Jayadev Odissi Sangeet Samaroh concluded with an Odissi presentation by Kiran Sehgal and her troupe, but the Shree Kshetra Utsav continues with Shrimad Bhagavata Parayana, the food festival Bhojan, the handicraft expo Chandua, the handloom expo Khandua and the Sand Art Exhibition till December 25.
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