Sunday, January 07, 2007

Banganga Festival 2007


I kept going to Banganga since my childhood days as my aunt stayed in the building opposite the temple tank. Though I have not been to Varanasi, I feel it must be like the city next to the Ganges from whatever I have read of the city.

Banganga is said to have as legend goes formed because of the ‘bana’ (arrow) shot by a thirsty Lord Ram while passing through. It is a temple precinct with around eight temples which are surrounding a rectangular tank with stone steps. It is situated at Walkeshwar. You have to go down from Teen Batti and then take the first lane on the right as you go away from the bus stops towards the Governor’s residence and then follow the stone steps down. Will write more about Banganga and the temples around it in a later blog but yesterday I went to attend the Banganga Music Festival.

The Festival started in 1992 and is a must-see for classical music enthusiasts or for people who need a reason to visit Banganga or for those who want to hear music in an amazing environment. I am sure many first timers to the festival were also first-timers to Banganga. The stage for the performance is erected in the middle of the tank and the place is lit up. People watch the performance sitting on the stone steps (carpeted for the festival) around the tank. The tickets this year were priced at Rs 200 and Rs 75. The money raised would be used to conserve and restore the tank and the temples around the precinct. Previous concerts have seen performers like Shubha Mudgal, Rajan and Sajan Misra, Kishori Amonkar, Bhimsen Joshi, Gundecha Bros, Ustad Imrat and Nishat Khan, Pt Shivkumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Veena Sahastrabuddhe, and many others.

There was no festival held in 2004 due to the court order passed by the Bombay High Court on loudspeakers not being allowed in certain designated areas. Thus, the organizers started using ‘diffused sound’ from the festival of 2005. Philips radios were spread out around the periphery of the tank and became a source of the ‘alternative’ sound distribution without the use of loudspeakers.(As seen in the adjoining photo). This year, the same technology was used but because of some technical problems, the sound quality was not good and mid-way they had to turn off the transistors. The silence in the area allowed the audiences to hear the music very well.

Yesterday was the first day of the festival where Rahul Sharma enthralled everybody by his santoor and ended the concert with a Pahadi tune. He was accompanied by Anuradha Pal on the tabla.

So if you want to see a live classical music performance in the serene ambience of an ancient site, head there today as the second day has Vasundharatai Komkali and Kalappini Komkali performing a Sahagaan from 7 pm to 9:30pm or if you miss it, you can still go sometime to the Banganga area and absorb its serenity and heritage!

7 comments:

Yogesh Kolte said...

Hi,
Such a wonderful piece on the Banganga Festival 2007! and the snaps are too good!
Great work indeed!
I was also present at the Festival and enjoyed the music...

Yogesh Kolte
ishancom@gmail.com

Matt said...

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matt@melodytrip.com

uma said...

Nice! Are you coming to Janfest?

Abodh said...

yogesh : thanks... glad you were there too. The place is amazing and so was the music


Uma : Yes , I am - but may not be able to on both days though. What about you ?

Anonymous said...

This is a great article, would you mind if i posted this on our Yahoo SantoorFans group? This group is dedicated to all those who love the Santoor. Please reply at:

trusantoor@yahoo.com

Thanks, TRS

Abodh said...

anon : no problem

Anandham said...

Some more photos from Banganga Festival 2007. Please chk at this link
http://anandham.blogspot.com/