With Delhi reeling under intense heat, what better way to invoke the rain gods but through song and dance? With such an aim in mind, the Malhaar Festival is back in the city with its ninth edition. The tradition of Malhaar festival is centuries old. During the medieval days, raag malhar [made famous by Tansen who would sing it to bring down the rains] would be sung to bring about rains. The word Malhaar comes from two words — mal and haar— which means ‘destroying the filth of mind’.
The Malhaar Festival was started by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in 2004 and takes place every year at the onset of monsoons. ‘This year, the festival will give national and international audiences yet another insight into Indian performing arts,’ said Dr Suresh K Goel, Director General, ICCR.
This year, those participating include Hindustani vocalists like Meeta Pandit, Uma Garg, Madhumita Ray, Bharatnatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan, Odissi dancer Shubhada Varadkar, and Kathak dancer Vidha Lal.
‘This festival is all about celebrating the rains. Malhaar is a beautiful composition and the emotions that comes naturally with rain,’ says Hindustani vocalist Pandit, who is participating for the first time.
Pandit, who will be opening the festival, will be singing the Raag Surdasi Malhaar. She will also be belting out ragas like vilambit khayal and drut khayal and songs like Garajat aaye re baadar vaa in tilwada taal, Baadava barasana ko aaye, nanhi nanhi bundana garaja garaja ab in teen taal, and Kajari sawana jhara lage la dhire dhire in dadra taal.
Hindustani vocalist Madhumita Ray will be singing thumri and dadra. ‘The compositions are all coloured in the emotions of the rain, the clouds, the peacock dancing in the rain, the frogs croaking and the pathos of the lovers — all of which is beautiful and frightening at the same time,' says Ray.
Kathak dancer Vidha Lal wants to ring in the rains by performing to Kalidasa’s Meghdoot.
‘It is an expression of the happiness that dawns after the heat, and talk of the flowers that await the rain and longing of lovers — symbolised by the eternal story of Radha and Krishna,’ she adds. Lal also would be performing on megh malhaar and sur malhaar with her mother-in-law, Gitanjali Lal. They will weave in some Kathak as well.
Here’s to the rain, then!
At: Kamani Auditorium, Coprnicus Marg
When: 8 July to 10 July, 6.30 pm onwards