The month of Shravan (Savan) marks the beginning of the festive season with a series of festivals across several months up to Diwali, the festival of lights.
This year, to mark this month that is observed with devotional fervour by Hindus all over the world, the Auckland Indian Association and CIPA (Centre for Indian Performing Arts) and the Mohan Nadkarni Foundation hosted an evening of devotional music at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre, New North Road, on Friday 12 August.
Titled Meera Bhajans, the event featured timeless devotional songs of legendary poet-saint Meera Bai that have been immortalised by India’s nightingale Lata Mangeshkar, who passed away earlier this year. They have been set to music by her gifted brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar, who is known for his uniquely rich, complex compositions.
Mira Bai belonged to a strong tradition of devotional poets in medieval India who expressed their love of God through analogy of human relations like a mother’s love for her child, a friend for a friend, or a woman for her beloved. The popularity and charm of her lyrics lies in the sweetness of emotions which she expresses for her beloved Lord Krishna. It is this that has kept the hundreds of songs that she sang popular across the length and breadth of India down the centuries.
One of Auckland’s most gifted singers, Kishori Telang, sang the bhajans in her wonderfully mellifluous voice accompanied by equally accomplished musicians Dharmesh Parekh on the keyboard, Akhilesh Madhur on the tabla, Akshaiy Narayanan on flute and Mrunal Niphadkar on percussions.
Meera Bai’s devotionals are both in Rajasthani and Hindi and the lyrics with translations were displayed on a backdrop as the songs are presented, to enhance the appreciation of her beautiful words especially by those unfamiliar with the languages.
The event concluded with aarti performed by Devram Ji Raval, priest of the Radhakrishna Temple at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre and mahaprasad for all who attended.
It is fitting that Meera Bhajans was being held just ahead of one of the first major festivals in the holy month of Shravan – Krishna Janmashtami – that celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, which was on 19 August this year and was be celebrated at the same venue by the Auckland Indian Association.
Meera Bhajans was organised by CIPA in association with Mohan Nadkarni Foundation and is part of the Mohan Nadkarni Centenary concert series 2022-23.