I have just returned from one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Since 8 pm last night, I have been an audience to an all night concert on Indian Classical music and dance. As the last strain of Pandit Jasraj's rendition of Bhairavi fades away, my eyes are misty with sleep, but somewhere inside I am excited enough to run a marathon.
The event was organised by the Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra and we were lucky enough to get guest passes, which guaranteed us cushioned seats in the front row. Those at the back in ordinary chairs weren't disappointed. After all, we had braved the chill to come here for music alone and no obstacles were going to stand in the way.
The evening started with Raag Bageshri presented by Pandit Jagdish Prasad, who hails from Madhya Pradesh. Most appropriate choice; after all Baageshri is the raag to sing at night. Pandit Ji enchanted us with his mellifluous voice and lengthy taans that were executed with apparent effortlessness.
Following him at midnight was Pandit Chitresh Das who is a renowned Kathak exponent. He lives, teaches and performs mainly in North America now. For the layman, this was a great learning experience, as Pandit Ji recited bols (drawing similarities to mathematics with Kathak) and danced along. We were privileged to watch his enactment of Dushyant and Shakuntala's first meeting in the forest. Also on the list was his famous 'Train' performance, where he never fails to thrill the crowds with his simulation of the movement of a train starting from one station, speeding, moving on a bridge and then slowing down at the platform of the next station before screeching to a halt. All this - achieved with a pair of ghungroos and two feet. Needless to say, I was spellbound.
At 2 A.M Ustad Pervez Sheikh performed on the sitar. The silence in the early hours of the morning was invaded by the brilliant tunes that he conjured continuously for two hours. The reticent Ustad, unlike the earlier performers did not utter a word during his entire stay, but his music said it all.
Finally at 4 A.M when Pandit Jasraj made his appearance, we knew that this was going to be a night to remember. Pandit Jasraj performed the Bhairav and the only word I have for it is 'perfect'. Pandit Ji said that music brings us closer to God and in keeping with his dictum; all his kheyals were based on spiritual themes like Radha Krishna, Mahadeva etc. His final rendition was an ode to Maa Kali in Bhairavi and had the audience (including my parents) in tears.
It is difficult to put in words what we felt out there. This is an experience that cannot be shared vicariously. From my personal view, this was the first time that I attended an all night concert and from the way it has been, 'Yeh Dil Maange More'. Every performance was an epitome of perfection in its own way and I do not have a better way to describe it. I shall never forget touching Pandit Jasraj's feet after the show and getting his blessings. I also noticed that in all the performances, the troupe accompanying the maestro was so deeply immersed in the music that they were oblivious to what was happening elsewhere. Their eyes said that they had reached nirvana and we were watching from outside. As Professor Dumbledore put it, music is probably the only magic that needs no charms or enchantment.
Maybe just a bit of love......