By Cynthia Srikanth
I would like to share with your readers an interesting musical event in Paris. The “Groupe de Réflexion Franco-Indien” in France celebrated its 28th annual day on the 13 May 2018, with a musical event on the theme Tithis: Divine days. The event was held at the Indira Gandhi hall in the Maison de l’Inde, Cité Universitaire, Paris.
The music group was launched in the 1990s. The musicians, mostly amateurs and a few professionals, hail from Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, France, India, Sri Lanka and Germany. For every annual event, the members choose a theme and build up a programme with a choice of songs. This year, the songs were based on the festivals that fall on a particular tithi (day)—hence the name “divine days”. Of the fifteen tithis, the Hindustani group, under the guidance of Jayashree Majumder and Aparna Sreedhar, chose to sing songs highlighting seven tithis. Aparna Sreedhar and Deepak Mathur sang mellifluous bhajans for the prathama (Govardhan Pooja), ashtami (Krishna jayanti), and navami (Rama navami) tithis. Jayashree Majumder presented pleasing Rabindra Sangeet for the panchami tithi, and the rendering of Aigiri Nandini by the Hindustani group made the audience’s pulse throb with the vibrations.
The seven tithis rendered by the Carnatic group, led by Srividya Kuruganty, Jayshree Sarma and myself were triteeya (Akshaya triteeya), chaturthi (Ganesa Chaturthi), shashti (Lord Subramanya) , saptami (Soorya), ekadasi (Vishnu), dwadasi (Tulasi), and trayodasi (Sivaratri). These tithis were based on the compositions of Papanasam Sivan, Muthuswami Dikshitar, the Alwars, Purandaradasa and Tyagaraja. The Carnatic group had the privilege of sharing the stage with professional artist Bhavana Pradyumna who enthralled the audience with two songs—Sooryamoortey, a composition of Muthuswami Dikshitar, and Kalyanam Tulasi Kalyanam, a composition of Purandaradasa. The song Pallandu pallandu rendered in Nata raga by the group with chittaswarams was fast yet soulful.
It was interesting to watch twenty musicians, from the Hindustani and Carnatic styles, perform the concluding song Guruashtakam (a composition of Adi Sankaracharya) in perfect harmony and unison. Their performance bridged the south, north, east and the west.
For those of us who have migrated and settled down in different parts of the world, such events are very significant in rejuvenating our cultural ties with India.
It was a joy to be a part of this show, where you get an opportunity to watch and listen to amateurs and mature artists perform. The credit goes to Lalitha Badrinath who works tirelessly to make these shows a grand success.