All those who would love to visit Varanasi, but for some reason haven’t been able to do so, can experience the city right here in Delhi.
The fourth season of the music concert, Under the Banyan Tree on a Full Moon Night, organised by Delhi’s iconic music club Friends of Music, will celebrate the spirit of Varanasi, today.
You will learn about the rich music tradition of the ancient city, now declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and also experience the delectable Benarasi cuisine.
Fresh chaats, soothing thandaai and other mouth-watering dishes straight from the ghats of Benaras will give you a taste of city. A pop-up market will satiate your intentions to buy few knick-knacks.
But first, let’s talk about the main attraction, the music concert.
The 'Under the Banyan Tree' concert series brings a rich and diverse mix of artists from across country and presents it in a traditional baithak style ambience.
The performances are held under a Banyan tree at 1AQ art gallery, where the Qutub Minar’s minarets act as a backdrop, a perfect blend of old and new.
Star performers of the evening will be santoor player Kumar Sarang and folk singer Malini Awasthi, both steeped in Benarasi tradition.
Sarang belongs to the Varanasi and Maihar musical gharanas, while Malini Awasthi is a celebrated folk singer, passionate about preserving India’s oral musical excellence. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2016 for her contribution to music.
“July 13 marks the beginning of Saawan. Keeping the season in mind, I shall perform the kajri, Benaras is famous for it, along with thumri, dadra and other traditions of kajri which are popular in the city, and few rare compositions which are not sung now,” says Awasthi, who promises a ‘lifetime experience’ through these classical and semi-classical renditions.
Keeping the monsoons in mind, Sarang has titled his performance, Phuhar and will perform Raga Megh Malhar in dhrut teen tal and madhyalaya jhaptal as well as Raga Bairagi Bhairav in ekdhun.
“I have some more monsoon songs, which I’ll present depending on public demand,” says Sarang, who will be performing in Delhi for the first time.
This post-grad student at Benaras Hindu University has performed at Swara and Mahindra Kabira festivals earlier.
Looking forward to his maiden performance here, he says, “Despite the rise of fusion music, Delhi honours classical performers as well.”
Adds Awasthi, “Moreover, such curated events which have a select gathering wherein people know what they are coming for makes these very interesting for performers as well.”
Sure enough, the baithak-style evening, where moonlight and music will blend to recreate the poetic charm of a traditional musical gathering, offers a soul-elevating experience for both, the performer and the listener.
“People these days are moving towards classical. I see a bright future for classical music. The very name Classical means it is for a select class – it is growing, it is bound to grow. Even younger generation is moving towards classical music,” says Lalit Kumar, who will accompany Kumar Sarang on the tabla.
This is the 4th season of Under the Banyan Tree on a Full Moon Night, and it is organised by Delhi’s iconic music club, Friends of Music.