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Pakhawaj faces bleak future

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Indore (UNI): Ancient percussion instrument 'pakhawaj' which aided the birth of 'tabla' that has established itself in the world of music now finds its own existence threatened even as the number of artists is on the wane. Concerned over the state of affairs, the pakhawaj's sole lady exponent Chitrangana Aagle Reshwal who has earned a niche in the Limca Book of Records desires to develop a national centre for training. ''With the decline in the number of artistes, the type of gatherings in which the 'pakhawaj' is used are also on the road to extinction. On the positive side, the instrument is still played in temples linked with the 'haveli' music tradition,'' she told UNI.

It is believed that the the 'pakhawaj setbele' saw light of day in 1250 AD on the initiative of Sultanate-era poet 'Tut-i-Hind' Amir Khusrau. Even as the tabla became the cynosure of all eyes at music programmes, the 'pakhawaj' lost ground. Reshwal represents the fourth generation of Indore's Panse 'gharana' and was also tutored by Raja Chhatrapati Singh of Jhansi's Kudau Singh 'gharana'. From her early teens, she availed a scholarship to gain expertise in the 'pakhawaj' during two years spent at Bijwa near Jhansi.

''My greatgrandfather Sakharam Pant Aagle played the instrument at the court of Indore's Holkar 'riyasat'. At the time of his demise my grandfather Pandit Ambadas was only 10 but was immediately bestowed his father's position in view of his sheer skill,'' she said. Pandit Ambadas' son Kalidas carried the tradition forward and Chitrangana's brother Nana Panse is now part of her team. About entering this boys' club, she said right since childhood she had observed the men in the family. ''I began playing the 'pakhawaj' secretly. Observing my persistence, my father ultimately made me his student. The instrument was an accompaniment to 'dhrupad', 'veena', 'sarangi' and also to the 'kathak' dance but 'tabla' has now become a poor substitute,'' felt Reshwal. Under the 'Durlabh Vadya Yojana' of the Madhya Pradesh government's Culture department, 15 children are being trained by Reshwal.

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