India’s Light Classical Music Treat

The Light Classical Ghazal and Thumri singers performing at Westwood International School recently .PIC: KAGISO ONKATSWITSE
The Light Classical Ghazal and Thumri singers performing at Westwood International School recently .PIC: KAGISO ONKATSWITSE

The Light Classical, Ghazal and Thumri singers treated the Indian community in Botswana and the public to spectacular performances at Westwood International School recently.

Shaila Hattangadi and her sisters, Nirmala Jaishnkar and Shobhana Rao treated the audience with breathtaking and spiritual music pieces. The sole light classical, Ghazal and Thumri male singer Arun Gulwali accompanied the performers.

Before the show started, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng, who was accompanied by the Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness, Dikgang Makgalemele, and the India High Commissioner, Ketan Shukla, lit a lamp. The lighting of the lamp is part of the Indian spiritual belief. It is said to cleanse the mind and bring purity to it.

After the lamp was lit, Hattangadi and her group started the show with a relaxing light classical performance. Their songs mainly focused on thanking their gods for the various roles they play in their lives.


“In the trinity of our gods, Lord Shiva holds everything. He can destroy the earth and recreate it to the pure world. On the other hand, one of our songs title, ‘The Return of Ram’ in English is sung mostly during the celebration of Diwali. This song is sung in Hindi. It tells a story of Lord Ram who vanished for 40 years. He was a tremendous and great man but his ego overpowered him to the point that he vanished for years. Upon his return, his people were happy and started singing this song,” Hattangadi said.

Their Ghazal music, which is a narrative poetry, got the audience cheering in happiness as some sung along the melodious rhythms. They also sung India’s famous Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Ghazal “Dil Mein Ab Yun” and the Nazm “Chal Padi Phir” composed by legendary music director Jaidev.

When addressing the gathering, Shukla India said the heptatonic scale (a musical instrument composed of seven musical tones) and the special instructions for the hymns of the Sama Veda (Hindu gospel) show the style of worship singing in the Indian religion Vedic times (3000 BC).

“Anyone who has heard a performance on the Vina by a good Indian musician has probably heard music much as it was played over a thousand years ago. Response to music or failure by its ability to move us, to stimulate us, to entertain us, to perplex us, to illumine us, to delight us or to enlarge our capacity for spiritual experience,” he said.

He said music is art, which enables people to reach and share intimate thoughts and emotions. He added that the basic scale was heptatonic and its seven notes corresponding approximately to those of the European major scale.

“They may be elaborated with half-tones or quarter-tones. There are 22-quarter tones in the octave, which occur in the following order. Sa rig a ma gha ni sa. The notes sa, ma, pa may have as many as three degrees of sharpness. As well as scale based on the note sa, corresponding to the European major, other scales may be based on other notes of the seven, thus resembling the modes of ecclesiastical music,” he added.

The commissioner also stated that there was no harmony in Indian music, and the melody, which usually proceeds by conjunct intervals, never suggest a harmonic basis, as do European melodies. He said the Indian music was and is still an improviser.

Furthermore, Shukla added that during BOT50, the Indian community and the Botswana citizens participated in large numbers during the launch of ITEC alumni website, charity event coinciding with the celebration of Indian Art Exhibition, 2nd International Yoga Day in Gaborone, Francistown and Kasane.

He added that the Indian community had always been in the forefront of charity functions and socio-economic upliftment in Botswana.

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