Posts Tagged ‘singing’

The itinerant religious singer, Bhutanahalli, 170619

June 18, 2019

I clicked this photo of an itinerant religious singer, with my young friend Prem, while we were watching the Baya Weavers at Bhutanahalli koLA (pond):


Since he was singing about the maleficient god Shaniswara (the planet Saturn), I clicked him in front of the shrine:


I also saw Krishnaveni’s husband and her son Punith (they run Ravisutha Hotel, where we generally have chai and brefus when we are birding in the area) give alms to the singer:

I posted on FB and asked if such a singer would have a specific name, and got a very detailed reply from Rajpal Navalkar:

“This one is Kamsale. Most of them can be found in North Karnataka. In Maharashtra, too, we have these semi classical and even classical Buas (called Bauls in Bengal) who go around singing Bhajans and Bhavageet.”

He went on to add, in detail:

Religious singers are of five groups: (1) Kamsale (2) Neelagaru (3) Chowdike
(4) Gorava (5) Gane.

Professional religious singers sing only those songs which concern their chosen gods, pilgrim centres and temples. Their main purpose is to propagate the supremacy and philosophy of their particular religion to inculcate values and norms in the community. Professional singers are characterised by traditional colourful costumes and conspicuous musical instruments. They command great respect and take active participation in all the religious celebrations of their community.

(1) Kamsale

Kamsale: ‘Kamsale’, popularly known as ‘Devadraguddas’ are the disciples of Lord Madayya. ‘Kamsale Mela’ is a popular folk song which deals with the history of ‘Mahadeshwara’ (the presiding deity of Malai Mahadeshwara or MM Hills, a renowned pilgrim centre, situated in Mysore district).

The name ‘Kamsale’ is derived from the traditional musical instrument. It is a unique musical instrument consisting of two bronze plates. The bronze cymbal is in the form of a cup with a broad base. The other plate is a flat structure with a tassel tied in the centre. The cup is held in the left hand and with the help of the tassel the flat plate is held in the right hand and the singer clashes both of them rhythmically during the performances.

‘Kamsale’ singers sing either individually or in a group. when in group, this form becomes a mela and consists of three members. The main performer plays the ‘Kamsale’ instrument, supported by two artistes in the background playing an instrument-the ‘Dammadi’ and the ‘Yekatari’-single-stringed musical instrument. The performance consists of narration by the chief singer, who pauses in between to interpret the story. The Kamsale artists do not wear any traditional costumes.

Their dressing is simple, they wear ‘Rudraksha’ beads, which is their religious emblem, and carry a satchel. They are illiterates and have no printed literature. They learn those songs orally. They participate in fairs, which are held in Mahadeshwara hills during ‘Diwali’, ‘Shivaratri’ and ‘Ugadi’ festivals and are found extensively in Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore districts of the state.

Thank you for all the information, Rajpal. Just a few minutes of that song had so much of a story behind it! Here’s some more of the KamsALe, with more of dance:

Children, STL, 230814

August 24, 2014

When I say my grandson is de-lightful, I mean it!

After this, he started figuring out how to open the front door, and make good his escape…

And here’s KTB,singing a very old movie song:

The original, with the horrific images of the man of the house beating up his wife and kid, here:

I’ve not taught Boodi Ma the 2nd stanza, talking about how the father, after his bout of anger, will call the child..I am deeply disturbed by the culture that this song shows.

The Booda is not yet very verbal, so his singing videos will have to wait…

She’s learnt other lovely songs, too….

March 23, 2014

she’s been learning more songs at Urban Sprouts, her day care….

I ‘d LOVE to sit by her all the time!

KTB’s nonsense “Indian” singing

November 5, 2013

AM writes to a friend, who says she’s had a quiet Deepavali:


Quiet would indeed be lovely. Please enjoy these last moments of quiet and make them last for 10 years.

I get an earful of Parva-lay-mathi-klakka-klakka daily, this is Kavya’s new nonsense bhajan. She has figured out how to make Indian sounding words and practices this skill as often as she can, loudly and insistently. Her brother eggs her on in gleeful fits of giggles each time, sending her into a tail spin of loud and braying giggles as well, into which the last two klakka’s are dissolved. The only saving grace is that it is better than her other bhajans which includes, “I love my booty body”, learned from older friends.

Yeah, yeah, It sounds funny and cute now, but after the 100th Parva-lai-mathi-klakka-klakka, associated braying and baby trying to join along in his own capacity, I am seeking to vicariously live those quiet moments.

Today morning’s latest was Pangalaathi-pongalam.

I write this because it sounds more fun with some distance.


Ooooh…HOW I miss my Boodi and Booda! Here I am with them, preparing to leave them and go off, far away…


A lovely song, well sung

November 5, 2013

Listen to my very talented nephew, Rakesh Raghunathan:

Apart from his great musical talent, he also runs a take-away wrap business, called Petawrap (mostly vegetarian, I think)in Chennai, with a chain of outlets, and runs a cookery show on one of the TV channels…all very successfully!

A versatile guy…and a very likeable person, too. Rakesh…your nickname is “Rock”…and you rock!

KTB gets creative…

September 19, 2013

It’s most enjoyable when children develop their own personalities, and give their own spin to things!

Here’s KTB, singing the original words (with exaggerated expressions, ofkose)

and here’s her positive version:

Memories from my college days

June 7, 2013

Kanian Chatterjee sent me a rendition of Robindro Songeet.

I listened to it, and my mind went back…to my college days. I was a student of English (Honours) and Philosophy, for my bachelor’s degree, at Gokhale Memorial Girls’ College. Bengalis being very artistic, we also had a lot of cultural events, and one of them was “bAyishE srAbON”, which is the death anniversary of that giant of Indian literature, Rabindranath Tagore (or to pronounce it the correct Bengali way, Robindronath Thakur.)

We would grind rice paste the previous day, and make “Alpona” (rangoli) on the stage and around it. Bengali girls are incredibly talented at this…and the designs are always exquisite. The white designs were rimmed around with “lAl maati” (red earth), and it proved a lovely counterpoint to the sarees of the college girls…more about that later.

The favourite flower for this occasion was always “rojoni gondhA” (tuberose)…long stalks of these flowers were arranged in tall mud or brass vases on both sides of the stage. They cast their heavy, heady fragrance across the whole hall for days…the name means, literally, “aroma of the night”. These are white, night-blooming flowers.

For the music, we had several people singing, several on the harmonium, and a sArangi player and a tabolchi (tabla player) were men brought in for the evening.

Our college was probably the only one in Kolkata which enforced a uniform; young women always had to wear white sarees with red borders (“sAda shAdi lAl pAt”) always made of cotton (there were hardly any sarees of artificial fibres…it was always more comfortable to wear cotton!)
I w
(There were, of course, many girls who were averse to being regimented like this, and especially for newly-married young women, white sarees were a cultural no-no. I led a strike in the college in my third year, and got the uniform rule rescinded to “only on cultural occasions”. The professors were shocked to find Deepa Viswanath, their star student, who never cut a class, suddenly turning into a “biplobi” or rebel!)

Like a flight of white birds, the graceful young women would settle on the stage. They would tune their voices to the harmonium, and the sweet-voiced singing would begin. I must say, however, that I felt then, and I feel now, that though the lyrics are always amazing, the music of Robindro Songeet is, far too often, dirge-like and very mournful, and used to put me off quite a bit!

As a Tamizh girl, my college was very proud of the fact that I could read and write Bengali, and sing Robindro Songeet. I was always given solo billing for two songs…”kOn AlO” from Chitrangada, and “choroNo dhorithE”.(On other occasions, an AdhUnik (modern song), “kOn sE AlOr sopno niyE”, was a must for me to sing). It was a great point that my Bengali pronunciation was very good, and they took as much pride in it as if they had taught me the language themselves, instead my learning it in my childhood, from my neighbours, our maids, and others around me!

The event over, we would adjourn to the college canteen for some of the traditional snacks….jhAlmUdi, alUr chop, ghUghni, lUchi/AlUr dom, and, of course, jolkhAbAr (bengali sweets, YUMMMMM!). Since I was a star, I could always ask a couple of classmates, and their mothers or grandmother, having merely heard about my singing Bengali songs, would send “peethe”, which was only a home-made sweet in those days.( I was not averse to roso molAi from one of the sweet shops, either!) I can say that my nickname of “baby elephant” when I got married was due to a large part to my love for Bengali sweets. My friends had a project to convert me into a non-vegetarian, and brought chicken and fish in various recipes to tempt me…but to this day, I have not found something tasty enough to convert me into a non-vegetarian. The food was served from large aluminum dishes; we ate them out of stitched leaf-plates. I honestly don’t remember much plastic (except for buckets and mugs and things like that) from my childhood or youth. JhAlmUdi was given in “tOngA”s…beautifully made paper packets. How I love, still, my puchkA and my jhAlmudi, all these years later!

Of course, the food was washed down with “chA”. It was made and served from huge kettles, and drunk out of “bhANd”, the unstable mud cups that could be thrown away after use. The cups imparted such a unique taste to the chA!

Many of the newly-married girls did wear AltA, red dye made from shoe flowers, on their feet; and dancers were allowed to wear it, too. The conversation, always in Bengali, with very little English, would ebb and flow around the hall, with the monsoon often wreaking its thunder and lightning outside, resulting, sometimes, in power cuts. The songs would then cut through the humid heat, and the spiralling smoke from the mud lamps and the agarbathies (incense sticks) would permeate the hall.

Life in college was full of music, dance and culture…I was too young for my years (I started my undergraduate degree in 1970 when I was 16)…. and was often teased unmercifully, but theSe are some happy memories from those years.

KTB gets creative!

May 24, 2013

We usually sing when we are in the car.

Here’s her own positive spin on “Jamaican Farewell”!

She said she’d just made it up 🙂 We were quite thrilled!

Colours of life..and love…

February 26, 2013

Here are the colours of a young life, that I snapped….

cryns stl 230213 photo DSC01004-1.jpg

And that reminded of this beautiful song…

Here’s a friend of mine, singing it with her group:

(She’s the one on the extreme left)

I do love colour!

KTB singing some old Tamizh songs….

May 7, 2012

She’s always been fond of “pAttu pAdavA”, an old Tamizh movie song. So when she suddenly decided to put Wally the walrus to sleep (on top of a measuring scale, for some reason), I asked her to sing a lullaby and she sang the song instead!

When I requested her to sing “jO jO”, a lullaby I often sing to her, she first told me Wally was waking up, but got suddenly interested in the song, and put Wally back to sleep again, singing the lullaby at top speed!

Another favourite of hers is the old movie song from “kAdalikka nEram illai”, the 60’s hit comedy….here she is, singing “ViswanAthan, vElai vEndum!” with great gusto! (The song is sung by the hero who has been wrongfully dismissed by his beloved’s father, and is saying, “Viswanathan, I want a job!”)