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Beats of rhythm and synergy

Beats of rhythm and synergy
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It is but a common sight in Maharashtra, especially at the Ganesh Pandals and during the Ganesh Visarjan processions, where groups of youngsters clad...

It is but a common sight in Maharashtra, especially at the Ganesh Pandals and during the Ganesh Visarjan processions, where groups of youngsters clad in white clothes and saffron turbans, girls wearing their nath too, the quintessentially Maharashtrian nose pin, carrying the heavy Dhol and the smaller percussion instrument Tasha, in unison, play with all energy and gusto a rhythm that has been passed on as tradition. And, along the way, they chant and sing adding to the festive fervour.

The Dhol Tasha Pathak (group) are many, and they practice for at least 90 days, every day before the Ganpati festival to be able to play in great rhythm and synergy. The playing of the drums interspersed with chanting lifts the spirits of the devotees and the whole performance is nothing short of a spectacle. It was in 2015 that Ambrish Lahankar, a Hyderabadi-Marathi started Dhol Tasha Pathak with just 10 of his friends.

“I have been following Dhol Tasha performances on YouTube and was harbouring this idea of starting a group and learning to play Dhol in Hyderabad too. Finally, on August 15, 2015, we started our group ‘Mitraangan’. Our disadvantage was that we did not have anyone teaching us. Whatever we learnt has been from the online videos. In the first year, we bought six Dhols and asked the members to get comfortable with their hand on the Dhol. Once they began to get better at playing, we asked them to buy their own Dhol,” explains 37-year-old Ambrish, who works in advertising as a designer.

Hyderabad has a significant Marathi population, who have been in the city since the time of the Nizams. Ambrish is the third generation Marathi, who is more a Hyderabadi. He and several youngsters wanted to recreate the popular spectacle of playing Dhol Tasha, which is also a major part of the tradition in the pearl city. ‘Mitraangan’ grew from 10 to 25 in the second year. However, it was only in 2018 that they found an expert trainer.

Sumit Khatavkar moved to Hyderabad for employment and he began to teach ‘Mitraangan’ the intricacies of playing Dhol Tasha. “The group has grown into 40 members; 20 of them are women. Sumit totally changed the way we were playing. He taught us the hand movements and how variations are taken on Tasha. Several chants and rhythms like Shiv Garjana, Shiv Ghoshana, Vakratunda Mahakaya and Ganapati Aarti are part of the Dhol Tasha repertoire. Further, there are seven different ways to play the Dhol and many more for Tasha. We are not able to learn at the pace we would like to as we have permission only on Sundays, a few months before Ganpati festival.

We chose an empty ground in a commercial locality. Training can get noisy for the residential localities. In Pune or Mumbai its part of their tradition hence it's different. But we have been able to learn five out of seven hand movements. We are making progress. We began performing at Shilparamam and for a few government functions,” relates Ambrish. For the just concluded Ganesh Chaturthi the group performed for Rachakonda Police Station Ganpati in Saroornagar and at the Khairtabad Ganesh Pandal too. On the last day, they perform at their own Mitraangan Ganesh in Badi Chowdi.

The members of the group are working professionals from the IT field, pharma companies, teachers, students, etc. It is where Ganesh Festival is observed with all fervour. The group aspires to grow, expand and train others in the city too. And it will not be long before the Dhol Tasha Pathaks will liven up the Ganesh festive spirit alongside the teen maar beats of Telangana.

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