Pt Durgalal Festival turns 25

The much-awaited Pt Durgalal Festival organised by The Sam Ved Society for Performing Arts and Kathak dancer Uma Dogra is celebrating its silver jubilee year

Twenty five years ago, Kathak dancer Uma Dogra had organised the first edition of the Pt Durgalal Festival in Mumbai. Back then, she was grieving for her late guru, Pandit Durgalal, from the Jaipur gharana of Kathak who died at the age of 42, and sought to pay homage to him through the festival.

Janaki Rangarajan
Bharatanatyam dancer Dr Janaki Rangarajan

Unlike the Raindrops Festival featuring new generation dancers that Dogra and her institute Sam Ved Society for Performing Arts also organises, Pt Durgalal Festival gets masters to take to the stage and showcase both Classical dance and music.

Manganiyar Folk musician Mame Khan
Manganiyar Folk musician Mame Khan

This year, the festival enters its silver jubilee year (Rajat Jayanti Mahotsav). The three-day event will feature a performance by Dogra and her students, a Manganiyar Folk music session by Mame Khan and group, a Mohiniattam performance by Gopika Varma, a Bharatanatyam performance by Dr Janaki Rangarajan, Vilasini Natyam by Swapnasundari, and Seraikella Chhau by Shashadhar Acharya and group.

Kathak dancer Uma Dogra
Kathak dancer Uma Dogra

Actress and dancer Hema Malini will inaugurate the festival. The opening ceremony will also mark the release of the book, In Praise of Kathak, penned by Uma Dogra.

This is Dogra’s first book that highlights her 50-year-long journey in Kathak (she is 57 years old now; she started dancing at the age of seven), her experiences, and feature anecdotes about her family and how she met her Guruji. It will also feature rare images of Pt Durgalal and of performances by Dogra.

Dance and legacy
Speaking about the festival, Dogra says, “I started the festival at a time when my Guruji passed away; I was devastated but resolute that I would not let his name and contribution to dance fade away. He may have been physically gone but I was keen to continue doing work in his name. Now, the festivals are more famous than Sam Ved and Sam Ved has become more famous than Uma Dogra,” she proudly shares, adding, “When I started it, I was alone, but today it has grown into a family with many people who are now a part of it.”

Speaking of the maestro’s legacy, she shares that he was akin to a father figure and was a great guru: “He was a true guru; he never kept knowledge with himself; he would teach it to his students. That is something you will hardly find today. He was a master of dance, song and the pakhawaj.”

Early on, Dogra mentions, she wanted this festival to grow and not be akin to a ‘small pond’. That led her to include Classical dance and music forms in the festival. She sums up the aim behind the festival, “I learned from my spiritual mentor Dr Daisaku Ikeda and follow Buddhist principles which emphasise that it is through education and culture that a country can grow and get peace and happiness.”

Time: 6.45 pm onwards
On: January 30 (Uma Dogra and group, Mame Khan and group); January 31 (Gopika Varma, Janaki Rangarajan); February 1 (Swapnasundari, Shashadhar Acharya and group)
At: Pranganga, Bhavan’s College Campus, Andheri (W).
Call: 26256451
Entry Free: On a first-come-first-served basis

Watch out for...
Uma Dogra will be performing the gurushloka, the Shiva Panchakshara Stotram, and ashtapadis from the Gita Govinda.

>> Dr Janaki Rangarajan will be performing a traditional item of four pieces, including a piece in Tamil on Lord Subramanya’s beauty, strength and majesty; a piece on a female devotee’s love for Brihadeeshwara of Tanjore, a form of Lord Shiva; and ashtapadis where Radha questions Lord Krishna on whom he met before coming to meet her and sends him away. It will also mark Rangarajan’s first performance with a live four-member orchestra.

>> Manganiyar Folk musician Mame Khan, whose musical family dates back 15 generations, will perform Folk tunes from Rajasthan and Sufi music. It will feature compositions by Khan and his father, and will include instruments such as sarangi, kartal, dholak and the harmonium.

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