Friday, March 11, 2011

Baajlo Tomar Alor Benu

The traditional six day countdown to Mahasaptami starts from Mahalaya. Goddess Durga visits the earth for only four days but seven days prior to the Pujas, starts the Mahalaya. Sarat in its bloom,mingled with the festive spirit of Durga Puja reaches its pitch on the day of Mahalaya.

This day bears immense significance for the Bengalis. It is according to the myths that Sree Rama hastily performed Durga Puja just before he set for Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana.
According to Puranas, King Suratha, used to worship goddess Durga in spring. Thus Durga Puja was also known as Basanti Puja. But Rama preponed the Puja and worshiped Durga in autumn and that is why it is known as 'Akal Bodhon' or untimely worship. It was considered untimely as it is in the myths that puja was performed when the Gods and Goddesses were awake i.e. "Uttarayan" and was not held when the Gods and Goddesses rested ie."Dakshinayan". It was on the day of Mahalaya,the beginning of "devipaksha",the Gods and Goddesses woke up to prepare themselves for Durga Puja.

“Mahisasura Mardini “is a hugely popular early AIR programme which is being broadcast (first on Akashvani, Kolkata) since 1930. It is a beautiful two-hour audio montage of Chandipath (chanting from Chandi) recitation from the scriptural verses of Sri Sri Chandi or Durga Saptashati, Bengali devotional songs, classical music and a dash of acoustic melodrama.
This programme, which began in 1930, is aired every year at day-break on Mahalaya even till today. The programme, which started off as a live-performance has been broadcast in its pre-recorded format since the late nineteen-sixties. However, its great popularity remains undiminished even till today.
This program has almost become synonymous with Mahalaya which is celebrated to usher the Debipaksha lunar fortnight and the Durga Puja . To this day, the whole of Bengal rises up in the chilly pre dawn hours, 4 am at morning to be precise, of the Mahalaya day to tune in to the “Mahisasura Mardini” broadcast.

The person who will always be remembered for making Mahalaya memorable to one and all is Birendra Krishna Bhadra, the magical voice behind the “Mahisasura Mardini.” The legendary narrator recites the holy verses and tells the story of the descent of Durga to earth, in his inimitable style.
Bhadraji passed away long ago, but his recorded voice still forms the core of the Mahalaya program. In a sonorous, reverberating voice Birendra Bhadra renders the Mahalaya recital for two thrilling hours, mesmerizing every household with the divine aura of his narration, as the Bengalis submerge their souls in quiet moments of prayer.
Mahisasura Mardini is a remarkable piece of audio drama matchless in Indian culture. Though the theme is mythical and the mantras Vedic, this program is a landmark composition. It's scripted by Bani Kumar, and narrated by Bhadra while Dijen Mukhopadhya, Manobendra Mukhopadhya , Sandhya Mukhopadhya, Arati Mukhopadhya, Utpala Sen, Shyamal Mitra and Supriti Ghosh sang in their melodious voices. The enchanting music is composed by none other than the immortal Pankaj Mullick. As the recital begins, the serene morning air resonates with the long drawn sound of the sacred conch shell, immediately followed by a chorus of invocation, melodiously setting the stage for the recitation of the Chandipath.

Set to Raag Bhairavi, Bajlo Tomar is the first song that is beautifully rendered by Supriti Gosh.

I was first introduced to Bengali music and culture by my music teacher in school -Mrs. Shaili Banerjee. It was due to her that my passion and love for Bengali songs grew. She was someone who stood by, supported and watched me grow from a shy school girl who was terrified of the mic to a confident young girl who started loving the stage as a second home. Being a South Indian, I was naturally worried about picking up a Bengali song and that too to be performed during Durga pooja to an entirely Bengali audience. But Mrs Banerjee was confident and pushed me to perform it. It turned out to be one of the most memorable performances for me. The love and affection showered by the Bengali people when they heard the song was overwhelming. After that ,I was invited to perform the same song at several Durga Pooja funstions. And everytime it was a new and exhilarating experience. Surprisingly wherever I have performed this song ,despite the language barrier people would sway with devotion and be enraptured by this beautiful composition.

This recording was a performance I gave at Subramanya Samaj in Mumbai. Though the audience was primarily South Indian, most people came up and specially mentioned this song post the performance.

Over the years I lost in touch with my teacher, but her love and her genuine interest in my music lingered in my heart and will always be cherished wherever I am.

Mrs Banerjee, This one is for you Ma'am :) Thank you :)