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An ageless music from Girija Devi marks her tradition
CHENNAI, November 19: The Hindu Friday Review November Fest began at the Music Academy here on Friday (November 14) with an elegant vocal presentation of Girija Devi, hailing from Benaras Gharana. Vocalist Sunanda Sharma accompanied Girija Devi. It was a fabulous evening. And, each and every moment was enjoyable. The fact that Girija Devi was a little short on energy didn't make the music any less energetic. She did ask for a break. The post- break session, too, saw refreshing music from the artiste. Girija Devi began the concert with a Saraswathi vandan "Ya Kundentu Tushara Hara Davala" This was rendered eloquently and with dedication.

Girija devi did a raag alaap in Bhoopali, equivalent to Mohanam in Carnatic music. She presented a Kayal and a bandish in ektaal, vilambith (slow) as well as in madhya tala (medium). The swaras flowed slowly with ease. Kamaal Sabri on sarangi followed her closely and tabla artiste Sanjay Adhikari displayed his prowess while playing for bhol tans especially for "Hey Mahadev Maheshwar" in madhyalaya. As she sang akaar tans, Girija Devi brought out the raga swaroopa at its best.

She finished off raag Bhoopali with Tarana "Tim Tarana"in Jaap tal. Girija Devi's rendering spoke volumes for the kind of voice culture and practice she must have had for such an incredible presentation. She then sang a Tappa in Mishra Kafi "Miyan Nazare Nahi Aanda". Girija Devi explained that Tappas were of Punjabi origin. These were sung differently in Gwalior and Benaras Gharana, she elaborated.

She then presented a Thumri in Misra Kamaaj raag. This song is a binti (a request) to God as "Araj Mori Maan Le Ho Piya Binati Karathi" and a holi (hori) song "Rang Daroongi" in Tilak Kamood raag ( a raga closely resembling Desh )in Kacchi Hori in Deepchandi Tala. Pakki hori, however, is sung in Dhamar Tala, consisting of 14 beats. This song brought all the accompanying artistes - tabla(Sanjay Adhikari), harmonium(Kapil Sharma), sarangi(Kamaal Sabri) - together and the music flowed ever so beautifully.

As Girija Devi delved deep into the music with her rich voice defying her age, it was absolutely riveting as she sang one of the Jhula songs "Ram Siya Jhule Lakhan Jhulave," where Lakshman rocks the swing seated by Goddess Sita and Lord Ram. Girija Devi gave full expression to the song as Sunanda Sharma followed her. Girija Devi was brimming with enthusiasm and out of blue expressed her wish that dancer Vyjayanthi Mala, present among the audience, danced for this song. This was one of the refreshing songs she sang after the break. She then went on to present a dadra "Diwana Kiye Shyaam, Kya Jadoo Dala" (Mishra Kirvani). She signed off the evening concert with a Meera bhajan "Kahe Preeth Lagayi Hari Tum" (Bhairavi) in Kaharwa tal. Someone among the audience wished to hear one of her favorite songs after this bhajan. Girija Devi, however, politely said that it was quite against the concert tradition to sing it after the bhajan.