Spring has sprung, and it is time for the season’s eponymous Raga! Bahar is a Kanada prakar actually, but the stand-alone name Bahar is so fetching, romantic…and evokes at once, images of a cool breeze over young blooms.
Bahar and Spring themes are a staple in the repertoire of the (now nearly extinct) Dilli-Qawwal-bacchon ka Gharana. In some, Nature meets the Sufi saint in her ‘Spring best’, almost like a bride (eg., Kaliyan sang karta rang-raliya) and in some, they play a riotous Holi together (eg., Hazrat Khwaja sang kheliye dhamaal). All in all, a time for festivities, and much Bahar being sung!
In pop culture, Bahar is more common as one half of a happy union called Basant-Bahar. For a long time, I found myself focusing more on this intersectionality rather than the individual beauty of the two ragas. This is where Ajoy-da comes in. His rendition of a beautiful ‘Aashiqrang’ bandish–something about yellow mustard blooms–in a Spic Macay lec-dem of my college years, simply blew me away! With time, the bandish faded in memory, but the fragrance of that evening’s Bahar stayed with me.
Years later, I was teaching a class on Hindustani music at the University of Washington. A student brought me a ‘Ms. Marvel’ comic book featuring the new female superhero–Kamala Khan–a Pakistani American teenage character, who puts her secret shape-shifting abilities to save the world. Incidentally, in one of the pages, Khan also sings…THIS: ‘Sakal ban phool rahi sarson…’ The rest is history. Here’s the bandish now for your enjoyment. I have coupled it here with my own Tirvat, composed a few years ago for my younger students.
Bandish/ Addha Teental:
सकल बन फूल रही सरसों, सकल बन अम्बुवा फूटे, तेसू फूले, गोरी करत सिंगार, मालनिया लेके आई हरसों
तरह तरह के फूल खिले हैं, ले गजरा हाथन में लाई, निज़ामुद्दीन के दरवाज़े पर आवन कहि गये ‘आशिकरंग’ अब, बीत गये बरसो
Tirvat/ Drut Ektal:
तन तदियन तन तदियन धीम धीम त धीम तना, ओदानी तारे तदानी तारे दानी, धीम धीम तिरकिट दानी तदियन तोम
यलली यलली यललोम यल, ऋतु बसन्त मन हुलसित, पुष्पलता नव विकसित, धीम धीम तिरकिट दानी तदियन तोम
Photo: On the Poo Poo Point trail. (c) Srivani Jade. Audio/Video – All rights reserved.