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An Unique Musical Offering To God !!

Pushpa Baskaran

On April 14th 2012, the Dwarakamai Sai Baba temple organized an unique musical prayer event with an all day bhajan utsav.  Several schools/groups in the Greater Boston area were invited to participate in this event.

Bhajans are usually short and simple, so they can be repeated by anyone with minimal or no practice.  The catchy tunes, simple lyrics and repetitions help audience to join in the singing.  Due to their simple nature, even children can chime in with little effort.

The day began started off great, with Smt Shyamala Bangalore and her Bhajan Tarangini group.  The group chose bhajans on different gods, including Ganesha, Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Lakshmi, Sarasvathi, Govinda in several languages to get maximum audience participation.  Several Kannada songs were by Saint Purandara Dasa.

This was followed by Smt Kumkum Sanyal's group.  Several of her students performed bhajans with soulful alapanas with graceful tunes.  The audience was mesmerized by the breath-taking performances and could easily become one with GOD !!

Next came the Acton Sloka group - Under the careful, meticulous guidance of their teachers the group sang several simple, catchy bhajans.  Some of the bhajans they chose were very popular ones in India and brought back great memories.

Next was the dynamic music duo - Priya Anand and Uma Sankar.  Their performance was like a mini-concert and their beautiful voices echoed in the temple.  The music reverberated in the hearts and minds of the audience.

This was followed by Abhyaas school of music.  Under the tutelage of accomplished music veteran Smt Aparna Balaji, the students sang several bhajans.  It was remarkable and touching to see Smt Aparna attend the function despite the fact that she was in crutches.  She went above and beyond to satisfy a devotee when requested to perform (She originally did not plan to sing).  Her 'Gangadharaa' song was well enjoyed and appreciated by those present.

The high-light of the day was Smt Bhavadhaarini's group.  She is an accomplished carnatic vocal singer and has organized several namaSankeertans.  Nama Sankeertan - literally means repeating God's names.  She chose pieces from several Indian languages, from great composers like Kabir Das, Tulsi Das, NamDev, Bhakta Meera to name a few.  She also pioneered projecting the bhajan lyrics on a screen, so audience could read the lines and join in the singing.  It was not only "green", but also increased excitement and involvement from the audience.  The hall was immersed in semi-darkness to allow the screen projection, and only the sanctum was lit by spot-lights.  This created an illusion of being all alone in the presence of the Divine power and one could forget the tribulations of daily life to immerse self with the Almighty.  Some of the bhajans were led by very young kids - the 'Jaya Janardhana' bhajan was musical, well received by the audience and the catchy repetitions helped audience involve themselves in the sing along bhajan.  Smt Bhavadhaarini's solo rendering of "Katrinile Varum Geetham' brought "tears to my eyes and reminded Mrs MS Subbu Lakshmi", according to one of the attendees.

The day ended with the Dwarakamai Bhajan Mandal rendering several bhajans.  Couple Sai Bhajans were sung which brought focus to the main diety in the temple and was enjoyed by everyone.

April 14th being the Tamil New Year's day, Vishu and Baisaki festival - several groups chose songs in different languages and wished the audience a very happy new year with an auspicious start.  It was a great day, to listen and join in the bhajans - and seek blessings from the Almighty.

The organizers had lined up a non-stop sets of volunteers to help with the seating, audio setup, food arrangements, etc.,  Dwarakamai organizes all these events free of charge.  It is up to the devotees to donate anything they wish.

Several people commented that this was an enjoyable, unique experience for them and wanted to attend similar event in future.  What I thought was remarkable and unforgettable was the comments from an elderly couple from Bengaluru - they "hadn't heard such bhajans even in India !!"  What more accolade can one get?

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