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Newly Formed Dhol Tasha Lezim Group Has Folks Dancing In The Street

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Newly formed Dhol Tasha Lezim group has folks dancing in the street

As many members of the India Society of Worcester (ISW) and others from the local MetroWest communities came together to celebrate Ganeshotsav, an occasion celebrating the arrival of the Hindu Lord Ganesha, a deity associated with new beginnings and as the remover of obstacles, a new sound was heard at the recently expanded ISW India Center. Dozens of colorfully garbed celebrants danced around the center ground to the sounds of cymbals clashing and massive drums setting a steady beat. The Ganeshotsav event, celebrated in the fall in India, had been hosted at the ISW for over a decade but this year was special as it introduced the newly formed Dhol Tasha Lezim Pathak group. 

Named after the instruments played – Dhol a heavy bass drum carried over the shoulder, Tasha a smaller snare drum worn around the waist, and Lezim a set of small cymbals tied to a wooden handle – the Dhol Tasha Lezim group was formed as part of ISW’s new Symphony initiative. “The sounds might be new in MetroWest,” said Rajesh Khare, one of the organizers, “but the dance and music traditions are centuries old and are a part of celebrations and religious festivals, like Ganeshotsav, in many parts of India.” 

While there are many dedicated groups in New England that support classical Indian music, traditional folk music groups are hard to find. A group of enthusiasts hoping to carry forward the traditional folk music and dance tradition in their new home decided to launch this group. Ashok Kale, a Shrewsbury resident, coordinated the purchase and shipping of the massive drums from India, and the group met in his garage initially to practice. With five large dhols and many other instruments, the group is now well stocked for its performances. It is open to anyone interested in learning about this drumming and dance tradition. You can sign up for the workshop on the ISW Website. 

“We are planning to run workshops where anyone, kids and adults alike are welcome to learn,” says Sarita Deshpande, Chair of ISW Symphony. “We want to spread the happiness and positivity that music brings.”

In addition to the festival, the ISW Dhol Tasha group has also performed at India Day, celebrating India’s Independence, and was recently invited to perform in Connecticut. The word of the group's dynamic performances has spread fast and it is fielding invitations from many other venues. “Our newly expanded community center in Shrewsbury allows us to introduce these new art forms from India to the MetroWest community. We are building a strong foundation for the next generation with great support from community members for such initiatives,” shared Puneet Kohli, President of the India Society of Worcester.

“Dhol Tasha Lezim takes me down the memory lane to my childhood, to the Ganpati celebrations and processions all over the town!” said Shilpa Kulkarni Nikte, who led the Lezim performers at the celebrations. “It's impossible to stay still when you hear Dhol-Tasha, the traditional drums of the western Indian state of Maharashtra.”

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