Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Color Me in Song - Aaj Biraj Mein Hori re Rasiya

Holi and Music

A group of boys and girls in ragged clothes, were asking for money and mithai, drenched in colors that would frustrate any environmentalist – red, silver, green, walking through the gali-koocha of dilli nagari’s DDA colonies. While this asking for Phagwa was not exactly Braj Ki Hori, but the dholak and the fairly high pitched ranting along with it was intriguing – I was quite taken aback with what I managed to make out. They were actually singing the trademark Holi song – Aaj Biraj Mein Hori re Rasiya. But to my mind it also brought out the core idea of this festival –it transcends many boundaries in the way it gets celebrated. And a uniting theme in all of this is the music that is so intrinsically linked to Holi – I definitely do not refer only to the Bollywood staple Rang Barse here.

Celebrated throughout northern India by the privileged and the commoner alike, the music around Holi suggests how folk and the classical traditions co-exist, how color and music come together and how traditional festivities can overlook religious convictions. Whether it is the songsters on the streets, the sonorous strains of legends like Thumri singer Shobha Gurtu or the Qawwal Jaffar Hussein Badayuni, there is so much music in Holi and this is just a glimpse into that world.

What is really the connection between color and music? It is actually an unusual one. Color can be seen, is perceivable while music exists on another plane – more abstract, more intangible. Yet the two are closely connected. The strains of Kafi, Pilu, Tilang or Bhairavi, some common Raag in which Holi songs are sung, do elicit moods of love, celebration, belonging, separation and sensuality. These Raag have mostly risen from folk tunes - with their origin in folk music. Although over time they have come to be formalized into Raag in the classical genre, they remain relegated to the domain of “lighter” Raag. In fact the folk element in the semi-classical tradition of Thumri is the most evident in the sub-genre of Hori. And therefore a lot of us grow up with these tunes in our conscious; the familiarity making it all the more enjoyable.

A more obvious connection between color and music is the rich text that comes through Basant, Holi and even Sawan where moods and colors merge into a beautiful tapestry. References to Hari Chudiyan (green bangles), Gori baiyyan (fair skinned arms) Kumkum (vermillion), Kesar (saffron), Gulal (red color), Daph and Shehnai, Rang Rez (the Dyer) and Chunariya (the Stole) come to mind straight away. Even today people relive legends through these songs; celebrate the exasperating, but highly charming ways of Krishna as he drenches the Gopis in color and love; songs associated with Radha and Krishna and with games and pranks that young Krishna played with the Gopis. You can feel the romance in the intent of the lyric, like in this traditional Thumri:

Vanshi wale Se Khelungi mein Holi;

Mohe rang mein kari aur jhakjhori;

(With the Flautist will I play this Holi,

He who drenches me in indefatigable color)

In fact there is a song for every mood in Holi including the Nayika in Viraha – or the heroine distressed by separation in rare Thumris and Dadra’s:

Hori Aaj Jarey Chahe Kaal Jarey, Mora Kunwar Kanhai Mose Aan Mile

Jar Jaye Hori Piya Ghar Naahi, Abir Gulal Mein Aag Lagey

(Referring to the pyre that is lit to signify the triumph of the good over evil, this traditional Dadra is the voice of a lonely heart pining for her lover, Krishna)

But the real mood is having fun and being naughty (haven’t we heard of Natkhat Kanha!) - a time to flirt and let your hair down. These fun songs bring out the risqué in the celebration. Aayi Hurdangon Ki Holi Ayi – here comes the riotous Holi, as a popular Bihari folk song aptly describes it. Barsana where Lathmaar Holi is traditionally celebrated finds mention in a lot of the Phag and Holi text. Women pick up sticks to beat men who do not retaliate – all done playfully! There is also a tradition where women let out Gaari’s (literally meaning abusive words), giving women a slim opportunity to let go just one day in a man’s world! Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar who couldn’t resist joining the fun used Braj Boli to write:

Kyon Mo Pe Rang Ki Maari Pichkaari
Dekho Kunwar Ji Doongi Mein Gaari

(Why drench me with color, now Kunwarji I will let out a Gaari!)

This fanfare and gaiety also entered art music – Khayal and Dhrupad - not something you would see for instance in Diwali. Dhamar, a sub-category of Dhrupad, is specifically related to Holi and thematically has nothing to do with either the ritualistic context or the feudal aristocracy that Dhrupad so represented. A popular Dhamar which infuses both sensuality and spirituality at once:

Khelat Hari Sang Sakal Rang Bhari Hori Sakhi

Kanchan Pichkari Karan, Kesar Rang Bori Aaj

Bheegat Tana Dekhat Jan Atii Laajat Mann Hi Mann

Aise Dhoom Brindavan Machi Hai Nandalal Bhavan

That music in Holi satisfies an emotional bonding with the listener -no use for worldly wisdom here - comes through in the secular aspect of the festival. Major traditions of devotional music in India such as Sufi and Bhakti Sangeet come to mind in this regard. Whether it is the Bhakti poet Surdas’s pada “Tum Chalo Sabahi Mili Jaaye Khelan Horiyan” or the ‘Muslim’ Krishna Bhakt, Ras Khan’s “Aaj Khelen Hori Braj Gori”, the mood, the enthusiasm and the underlying intent of love and devotion is very comparable. The great poet, Amir Khusro has written hundreds of Holi verses addressed to his spiritual mentor Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, whom he compares to Krishna: Mohe suhagan, rang de Khwajaji, Aao, Sufiyon sang Hori khelo.

This music is pure inebriation infused with the magic and power of imagery. Best savored with your Gujia, Gulal and Gaari!

For the Bhil tribals Holi is a celebration where they really let themselves go as traditionally they used to have money to splurge only at this time after the harvest was in. That is why they have a celebration of Holi over a whole week in the weekly haats. And as with the celebration of Holi elsewhere there is a riot of romantic colours. What is life without romance. Society to save itself from chaos tries to restrict romance but romantic hearts defy such barriers and this is expressed eloquently in the music around Holi whether of the folk or classical variety.

Credits/Source; Internet;/Vidya Shah(Arts-Dance & Music)/Rahul Banerjee(Social Activist

Monday, February 22, 2010

'Azaad 26/11'

Shot Ok Motion Pictures &
Subhash Ghai's Whistling Woods International Presents'Azaad 26/11'

Starring Chris Bhansali with Isha Koppikar, Gul Panag, Celina Jaitley, Javed Jaffery, Aushima Sawhney, Meenal Jain, etcMusic by Rahul BhattDirected by Manish JainSynopsis;-'Azaad' is a 26/11 tribute music video which portrays the marathon journey of a little kid running across all the 26/11 locations - Taj, Trident, Cama hospital, Nariman House, Cafe Leopold & CST. With an indomitable smile & the red rose held up high, his heart-felt desire is to spread vibrations of Love & Peace. It puts together the undaunted spirit of the city in a blend of a highly emotional song which reflect the sentiments of the mass at this point in time.Let Spirit RiseLet Peace PrevailLet Hope Survive Let Humanity WinLet Mumbai Live.

Acclaim and Appreciation:AZAAD 26/11 was aired on all the prime TV News channels on the anniversary of 26/11... AAJ TAK, STAR NEWS, TIMES NOW, CNN-IBN, HEADLINES TODAY, TV9, LIVE INDIA, STAR MAJHA, etc played the video...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Hotel YOGA SPA Catering to a GAY CLIENTELE set to open in COSTA RICA

'New York City Gay Men's Yoga' Owner Aaron Star Is Preparing To Open 'Blue Osa'- A Beautiful New Gay-Friendly Beachfront Hotel & Wellness Center in Costa Rica

Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica- January 17, 2010 - There will soon be a new addition to the Osa Peninsula- the 'Crown Jewel' of Costa Rica- when, after three years of careful planning and construction, 'Blue Osa', the Osa's first and only beachfront hotel offering full spa and wellness facilities is opening and welcomes it's first group.

For the past three years, New York business partners Adam Dolle & Aaron Star have been working on and pouring over every last detail, as they work to perfect their vision of Zen in the jungle with refined style and elegance. "Blue Osa is going to be an extension of the work that I am doing in New York City. Our vision is to create a yoga sanctuary and spa for the gay community that will help us to spiritually reconnect to ourselves and each other in an environment that is akin to a paradise," says Star.

Now, their dream is set to become a reality with the opening of Blue Osa, a beautiful new oceanfront "Yoga Sanctuary and Spa" that will offer full hotel, restaurant, spa and wellness facilities, and that represents the fruits of both mens' labors and the culmination of two lifetimes of work.

Offering it's guests "peace and tranquility in an idyllic setting", the eco-friendly Blue Osa will feature full spa facilities, complete with 70 foot lap pool, gym, large open-air yoga studio, oceanfront restaurant and comfortable, beautifully decorated cabinas all surrounded by pristine rainforest and situated on one of the most glorious beaches the Osa Peninsula has to offer.

Officially opening shortly into the New Year, Blue Osa is hosting it's first Yoga Retreat Group on January 31st, followed by Gay Men's groups such as Body Electric and Hot Nude Yoga. Blue Osa is welcoming both individual and group reservations and extends an open and happy invitation to all gay weddings, reunions and all others who would like to come and experience this carefully and lovingly constructed vision of peace in paradise.

Those interested in visiting Blue Osa will find getting to the Osa Peninsula to be both simple and reasonably priced. Flying time is typically no more than 4 - 5 hours from the Continental U.S. Upon your arrival in San Jose, it is nothing more than a quick 50-minute flight to to the town of Puerto Jimenez on Sansa Airlines, Costa Rica's most trusted domestic air carrier. Once in Puerto Jimenez, there are numerous friendly taxi drivers ready, waiting and available to take you the twenty-minute ride out to Blue Osa.

If you would like to know more about Blue Osa, or are interested in either inquiring about or visiting us, please contact Aaron Star at 'aaronstar@Blue Osa.com'. Or, visit the website at 'www.blueosa.com', which features an extensive photo gallery for your viewing pleasure.