Nothing says dawn in India like the strains of Lalit coming in from a radio somewhere, as you disappear one last time into your razaai, negotiating that last delicious sliver of slumber. If you were lucky enough to share a room with grandparents, you would also hear the silent utterances of morning shloks on their breath, and yes, Lalit again…playing somewhere on a bansuri or a shehnai.
Lalit colors the Indian ethos. One takes the ‘Lalit effect’ (featuring the two ma’s in chromatic tandem) for granted in film songs like Tu Hi Mera Prem Devta which sports a straightforward chalan or Preetam Daras Dikhao where Lata Mangeshkar lays the rules down on how to spiral a taan down the avaroh with two ma’s with utter ease! It’s also a testament to the uniqueness of the Indian musical mind. There are scales and modes and melodies in many music cultures, but who could have dreamt up a raganga like this?!
The Lalit of yore is distinct in that it actually sports a Shuddh Dha. The raised Dha evokes a brighter uttarang and a slightly later morning feel in my mind. Years ago, when I sang this raga in a concert in Delhi, Pt. Gaurav Mazumdar (who was in the audience) enlightened me that both the variants of Lalit probably came from the same fountain-head raga that sported a dha that was placed in between our present-day komal and shuddh grades. Whatever the reasons of divergence, today, mainstream Lalit is the Komal dha version, and this, Shu Dha Lalit, a rarely performed raga.
Shuddh Dhaivat Lalit/ Madhyalaya Ektal:
जा रे जा रे जा रे जा रे जा कगवा, मोरे पिया को ले जा संदेसवा
बिरहा से तन ताप तपत है, कैसे समझाऊं मोरे पिया
Dawn in Crescent Beach, CA. Photo: Srivani Jade