Banganga Music Festival

Banganga Music Festival

I had thought of putting a foreign locale as my first working post here but as luck would have it, it had to be a place where I live. Yes, it is about Mumbai.
Yesterday I went to see Banganga music festival. It is a ritual every year in January, to have a cultural extravaganza at Banganga, where top artistes from around the country perform live Hindustani classical music concerts. Cultural enthusiasts attend the festival and feast the soul as well as the mind as the sun sets.

Banganga Music Festival

For the last two years I have been thinking of attending this but for some reason or the other, the lady luck denied me such an opportunity. This year I didn’t want to miss it at any cost. When I came to know of the dates of this festival (6th and 7th Jan), immediately made my plans and blocked my agenda.

Normally the festival is for two days. Yesterday was THE day when my dream was about to come true. We started off on time, took a local train for Grant road (as far as possible I prefer trains to cars/cabs for obvious reasons), took a cab for Walkeshwar, the place of happening.

That area of city is always under strong breeze for two reasons-one it is on hills (Yes, I am talking about Malabar Hills.. one of the classy localities of Mumbai), two-it is like a peninsula surrounded on three sides by sea.

But many of the roads on this route are only 1 + 1 lane, so you can imagine the rate at which traffic moves. We were more worried because we couldn’t book the tickets in advance. Anyways, reached there at 10 minutes to seven, the official start time. Luckily tickets were available (Rs. 200/- each).

We bought some packets of Lays and water and off we went to the seating area. No, the one in pic was reserved for special invitees.

Before I describe further, something about Banganga.

Mythology has it that Lord Ram on his way to Lanka in search of his wife Sita, stopped on the hillock of Malabar Hills. His followers were worshippers of Shiva. Thus, he wanted to build a Shiva temple for them, sent his brother Lakshman to Benaras to get a shivalinga to be established here. Before it could be brought, he had an alternative constructed from sand.
As I said, it is a peninsula, there was no dearth of sand. The followers formed a shivalinga from sand and called it Walluka Ishwar –
‘walluka’ meaning ‘sand’
and ‘Ishwar’ meaning ‘the God’ in Sanskrit. Hence, the temple Walkeshwar temple.

Though surrounded by water from all sides, the people could not find fresh water to quench their thirst or perform daily puja. Seeing this, Lord Ram shot a baan (arrow) into the ground and sprouts of fresh waters of the holy Ganges sprang from that spot. Centuries later, one king built a large and beautiful tank in stone, to store the water of this Banganga. Needless to say, the tank always has fresh sweet water despite being located just a few meters away from the sea.

One can see numerous, beautifully sculpted four hundred-year-old temples of various deities and modern skyscrapers around the sacred tank. Nowhere are Mumbai’s paradox more evident than at Banganga. On pious occasions, thousands turn up to take a ritual dip in its waters.

Now about the festival. On first day, Santoor Player Rahul Sharma (son of Pt. Shivkumar Sharma), First Indian Lady Tabla Maestro Anuradha Pal and Bhavani Shankar on ‘Pakhaawaj’ were to perform.

The surrounding was amazingly beautiful with all decorations and lights. The said stone tank which is actually the size of a small pond looked beautiful with ducks swimming around oblivious of the surroundings.

The stage was constructed on one side of the rectangular tank, on the steps protruding over the tank waters.The sky had been blown clear by a cool steady breeze that set in after sunset.

And for a change I didn’t mind waiting for the chief guest D.K. Shankaran, Hon’ble Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra who was to inaugurate the function. He didn’t make us wait for long and the function started off at 7:20 pm.

First Rahul Sharma and Bhavani Shankar played a composition together for around 20 minutes. Then for next one Anuradha joined them to make it a superb composition.

This year also, with restrictions of silence zone, organizers had introduced an innovative sound solution for the Festival. There were no loud speakers. Instead they had installed transistors at every 4 meters and the sound emanating out of them were very soothing to ears.

Later, all three played a composition called ‘Celebration Kashmir’. It was magnificent. Felt like sitting in a ‘shikara’ (a Kashmiri houseboat) on Dal lake. You might be knowing Santoor happens to be an instrument of Kashmir.

The breeze was very cold and by 8 PM, though I was wearing a full sleeved top, I was feeling very cold. There was nothing to cover myself except a scarf.
The evening was soon harmonized in a beautiful awesome night. The entire area surrounding the pond was full. Pin drop silence from audience and only the soothing music to fill in ears, it was definitely a priceless evening. By 9:30 I was shivering with cold but no way had I wanted to leave the place.

And when it finished, I think I was the most contented person.

While walking back to the main road I saw the most colourful minar (tower) in my life.

Note:-All the pictures are taken by me and I am no professional photographer. When the concert was on, the entire area except for the stage was in dark, making focus very difficult, and so bear with me.

20 thoughts on “Banganga Music Festival

  1. Aditi,
    Awww.. I didn’t know that, would have at least asked for his autograph for you. 😉

    Mridula,
    Welcome here. 🙂 I know you are going to be a regular here. Thanks.

    Akshay,
    Welcome to my blog. Glad that you could enjoy the festival through my post. And many thanks for nice words. Keep coming.

    PM,
    Welcome. I am glad I could make it this time. It was a magnificent experience. Till two years back I didn’t even know about Banganga. Still exploring the city. Thanks for the link, I’ll check that. And thanks for so encouraging words. 🙂

  2. Now we are talking the same language. Not music, I guess I am tone deaf but travel. Wonderful that you started this blog.

  3. I so wanted to go for this on Saturday but couldn’t make it. Thank you for the post so that I could enjoy Banganga vicariously.
    Great pictures. BTW

  4. his shankaracharya is .. i dont have words for it..
    man i am sorry for having missed it but i am glad someone i know could make it

  5. Aditi,
    i am glad someone i know could make it.. This was my first time to see him live :))

    Prashanth,
    Thanks a lot. Hmmm Please, at least you don’t talk about photos. Know what ? While posting them, I was thinking about your pictures & didn’t feel like posting mine but somehow gathered courage to post.

    Sigma,
    Thank you very much. Hmmm.. You too ?? I’ll have to see them again. :))
    Keep coming.

  6. What do you mean by “you too” ? I really think they are beautiful, though they could be clearer 😀
    I especially liked the last one, but perhaps thats just the minaret ?! 😀

  7. Sigma,
    Ha Ha.. Living in the vicinity of Qutab Minar everything will look small. Yes, it is a minaret by that standard, I think slightly less than 20 feet. But resizing for this post has made it look even more shorter.

    About the quality of pictures.. I had to reduce the pixels drastically for uploading them. If you want to have a better look, right click them and see in a separate window. Reduced quality but better than seeing in the post ( I liked the one with reflected colored lights in water) . 😉 or see in the flickr I have or slide show in the map. Choice is yours. 😉

  8. Lol! It somehow didnt look even that tall in the pic … looks more like 8-10 feet, I dont know why …
    Ya, I liked the one with lights reflected in water too, and the one with ducks.

  9. Thank you for visiting my blog again. 🙂
    Congratulation on your new blog adventure! I look forward to learn more about your beautiful home country. Haven’t been there (yet!), but I hope to visit one day.
    Greetings from Vienna,
    Merisi

  10. Sigma,
    Thanks once again. :))))

    Merisi,
    Welcome to my blog. Keep coming and you’ll get to know more about my home country.

    Plan and come over sometime, be my guest. :))

  11. Yes u are rite. I was siting in the Rs 75 stairs. U r rite that Rs 200 stairs exactly opposite to the stage.

    Ans to ur ques:
    1. I own Canon S2 IS camera
    2. I was little lazy to put up my blog. If u would have noticed this is my first post 😉

  12. She attends Banganga Music Festival in Mumbai and comes back with pictures and a post.

    Yesterday I went to see Banganga music festival. It is a ritual every year in January, to have a cultural extravaganza at Banganga, where top artistes from around the country perform live Hindustani classical music concerts. Cultural enthusiasts attend the festival and feast the soul as well as the mind as the sun sets.

    Linked by mridula

  13. Enjoyed the music festival without being there. There were no loud speakers you said, still it is all music to me. Your description about the importance of the place as such was a bonus.

  14. I too have been trying to attend this festival – atleast visit the lake once…havent been able to yet. Nice pictures though.

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