Vasant Panchami

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Since  early times Indian classical Music has emerged as a social art. At all times  its use and purpose has been to retain the culture i.e. a part of the social  heritage, which supports emotional and aesthetical aspects of life. The  artist’s creation has much been in the form of tones, tunes, melodies and  rhythmic patterns which are interwoven in a particular repertoire in accordance  to particular seasons, occasions and festivities, shining as a musical piece  that creates a pleasing artistic atmosphere, expressing a particular Expression  and Rasa. For instance the cycle of seasons provides events and rituals along  with the literary component of music. This gave rise to the concept of seasonal  ragas (Ritu-Pradhan Ragas) in Indian music terminology. It prescribes ragas  ‘Basant & Bahar’ particularly to be performed in Spring…. The lord of all  seasons…“The Rituraj Basant” performed at the spring festival “Vasant Panchami  “the ceremonial welcome of the spring season is celebrated on the 5th  day of the month of Magh from the Hindu Lunar Calendar.

Vasant  is the season when nature is at its beautiful and bountiful best. Flowers are  in full bloom and trees sprout new shoots. It is a season when nature  regenerates and everything is fresh and new. In North India the cool morning  air is laden with the faint smell of Mango blossoms. Shrill loud calls  of the Koyal (Cuckoo bird) pierce the tranquility of the mornings  without in anyway disturbing it! Wheat and other crops enliven with new life  and vitality. Mustard fields turn into a heady mix of yellow and green  as the blossoms add color, poetry and romance to life.

Vasant  Panchami commemorates the birth of ‘Saraswatiji’ The goddess of knowledge and  wisdom. The beautiful goddess is portrayed in white attire, playing Veena a  string musical instrument, sitting on a white swan that symbolizes Satwa Guna,  which encompasses Learning, Wisdom and the Fine Arts. While the masses offer  prayers and rituals, Indian Classical Musicians celebrate it by rendering  various spring ragas to seek her blessings.

“Ambua phooli re daar  daar, tesu phoole ban ban bahar” a traditional bandish in Raga Bahar in  Teentala, depicts the galore of the Vasant ritu. This portrays the beauty of mango  grooves and lush yellow fields spread across the horizons where Tesu flowers  blossom which marks the arrival of the spring season and brings with it a sense  of joy and anticipation. This is a beautiful piece which has all the elements,  colors and shades to depict the Shringar Rasa, the basic mood of the spring  season that an adept performer in raga rendition envisages by amalgamating both  the pictorial and poetical quality that the bandish portrays.

Spring  is the season of renewed hope, joyousness, colour and festivities. Thus Indian  Classical Musicians celebrate Vasant Utsav by rendering a bouquet of  spring ragas such as Basant-Bahar, Basant bahar, Bhairav bahar, Lalit bahar,  Jaunpuri Bahar, Basant kanhara, Paraj in front of the goddess herself. It is  done along with Semi classical and folk genres and many other ragas ragas,  wherein the compositions explore the galore and splendor of the Vasant Ritu.

It  is interesting to know that the Raga Vasant is connoted as the raga of spring  and is depicted in the Ragamala paintings as Lord Krishna dancing with the  maidens, evoking the aura of romanticism and the mood of love (Shringara). The name Basant is from Sanskrit "vasant"  meaning "spring". During this season of the year, Raga Basant may be  performed at any time of the day or night.   The Raga mala paintings are a series of illustrative paintings, an art form ‘interpreting sounds on canvas in  colours'   based on Ragamala or the 'Garland of Ragas'. They  depict various Indian musical nodes, Ragas and stand as a classical example of the amalgamation of art,  poetry and classical music in medieval era. The Vasant ragini is a delightful  audiovisual extravaganza depicting the Vasant (or springtime), when hope  springs eternal. In this ragamala painting the mood is light and joyful. Men  and women are out to celebrate spring, with a women playing the dhol and  calling other maidens to come along to witness the beauty of brij in the spring  season as depicting the  traditional and  popular bandish in Raga Vasant. “Phagawa  brij  dekhana ko chalo ri”…

File:Vasant Ragini, Ragamala, Rajput, 1770.jpgVasant Ragini,  Ragamala, Rajput, Kota, Rajasthan. 1770.

Many  hearts are uplifted when experiencing the renewal of life that springs forth  from the cold and barren ground of harsh winter to bring in nature that is at its  beautiful and bountiful best. There is a song on every lip with a new  confidence in every heart to chart a new course. This is a time when everyone  gets together to romance with life as an old Hindi film song says, "Aayee  jhoom ke Basant, jhoomo sang sang mein" saying, ‘The merry spring is here  and let us sway together’.

Also read:
Significance of Basant Panchami