The larger than life size golden statue of Hanuman sitting in a meditative Mudra, at the Chitrakoot Dhaam located in the lush greens of Talgajarada, a small village of Mahuva, in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, has become a platform for music of world-wide repute for nearly four decades. The remote place has been attracting large crowds during their annual music festival, concluding with Hanumant Award Celebrations on Hanuman Jayanti, honouring stalwarts from the field of art and culture, including Indian classical music under the categories of vocal and instrumental music, percussion and dance.
Under the auspices of Morari Bapu, the renowned Ramkatha scholar, exponent and connoisseur of Indian classical music; Asmita Parva, a four-day festival of Saahitya (literature) and Sangeet (music) is being organised since 1980. Bapu, who associates music with divinity, has lent his unconditional support, inspiration and blessings to organise this four-day conclave concluding on Chaitra Purnima,the auspicious day of Hanuman Jayanti, honouring the Titans of Indian classical music, art and culture with the Hanumant Award, which was instituted to felicitate them for their lifetime contributions in their respective fields.
The Hanuman Jayanti Mahotsava-2015 saw the Hanumanta Award being bestowed upon Dr Balamurali Krishna for Carnatic vocal,Ustad Amjad Ali Khan for instrumental music, Shivamani for percussion and Helen for dance. The other awardees comprised Asha Parikh, Jitendra and Aanjan Srivastava for their contributions in Indian Cinema and Television, Jhaverilal Mehta for photography, Ghanshyam Nayak for Bhavai folk theatre of Gujarat and Upendra Trivedi for literature.
The Hanuman Jayanti celebrations opened with Sundar Kand Paath(recitation),composed in different ragas, rendered by the Bapu and his musical orchestra along with the whole audience, a rare sight of such a tuneful community singing, involving one and all. This was followed by a melodious surprise, when Anupama Bhaagwat took out a Sur-Bahaar like huge Sitar from the golden Gada of the Hanuman statue and played a meditative Aalap and a Teen-Tala Bandish in raga Basant Mukhaari, concluding with a bewitching Bhairavi.
The music festival preceding Hanuman Jayanti from 31 March to 4 April featured Balamurali Krishna and Pt Ajay Chakrawarty in a jugalbandi (duet) of Carnatic and Hindustani classical music. Opening with Guru Vandana, they performed an invocation to Hanuman, composed by Balamurali Krishna, where the alphabet "Ma" always sounded the swara "Ma" or Madhyam. Raga Hansadhwani and a Tillana in raga Kadan Kutuhalam, composed by Balamurali Krishna also mesmerised the audience.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, accompanied on Tabala by Mithilesh Jha and Anuvrata Chatterjee,played his own creations like raga Ganesh Kalyan and Aahuti apart from Ragas Zila Kaafi, Durga, a Tarana in Bahaar and "Vaishnava jana to…", "Raghupati Raaghava…", Bangaali Keertan,Bihu song from Assam,Tagore&’s "Ekla chalo…" et al before concluding with Bhairavi. There was an interesting Sawal-Jawab session of duet between both the Tabala players too.
The festival had opened with a mind-blowing concert by the ace percussionist Shiv Mani accompanied on Key Board by Sathya Narayana and vocals by his wife Runa. The Prince Group of 26 dynamic dancers from young street children of Odisha, followed his performance on the inaugural evening. Manara Chopara and her group from Mumbai danced to some film songs. The classical dance segment was represented by Mahua Shankar and her troupe of talented musicians from Delhi.
They performed Divinity by Seven Essence, a musical treat comprising seven gifted artistes with Mahua Shankar in Kathak, Akram Khan on Tabala, N Padmanabhan on Mridangam, Murad Ali on Sarangi, Fateh Ali on Sitar, Shoeb Khan in vocal and Nupur Shankar on Parhant. Opening with a Bandish in raga Kedar "Kaanha re Nand-Nandana…", an invocation to Krishna, they performed "Naad"a duet in Pooria Dhanashri on Sarangi and Sitar,"Anahad" Kathak on the difficult Aada Chautala by Mahua, "Roohe Humqalaam", a duet of Tabala and Mridangam, concluding with a Ghazal by all of them together.