Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Nimadi school girls receive standing ovation for their multi-lingual songs

Indore- The four little singers won standing ovation at the end of their 90 minute performance. Applause continued for several minutes, but the kids did not know importance of the ovation. They were unmindful of the reason why the gathering was giving them accolades; they went about packing their instruments lying around on the stage. They smiled coyly when someone patted their backs and when some others pushed currency notes into their little palms as awards.
These singers were students of third, fourth, and fifth, classes of a school in a socially and economically backward area on the bank of Narmada river in Khargon district of Madhya Pradesh. Their music teachers Shubhada Marathe, and Digvijay Singh, had brought them to Indore, the cultural capital of Madhya Pradesh. Their songs were part of a very important annual function organized by the Madhya Pradesh Marathi Academy on Makar Sankranti.
Their teachers had trained the girls to sing songs in Sanskrit, Hindi, and Marathi although they can converse only in their mother tongue, Nimadi. They sang to the musical notes of harmonium and tabla. Their pronunciation and diction were as clear and chaste as those of elders in elites trained in formal music for years.
Every song fetched them round of applause with increasing crescendo. As their teacher and compère Shubhada Marathe announced that they would perform the last presentation, an elder in the audience queried if the girls could sing some lines in Nimadi. their mother tongue.
Shubhada was not sure. That was because she had not taught them any song in Nimadi during rehearsals for this programmes, or anytime during her training so far. Yet, Bhavana Kevat, the senior most girl in the troupe (10 years) consulted her co-singers only for a few seconds.
Within an instant, along with her, her sister Shivani, Shriya Kewat, and Reva Namdev, burst into a lively Nimadi folk song surprising even their music teachers.Knowledgeable men and women among the audience were ecstatic. That was because, as they later acknowledged, even experienced adult professionals would find difficult to perform with such spontaneity and speed.
That was also because the audience by now had been told about the backgrounds of these little singers. They are students at a Narmadalaya school set up by Nimar Abhyudaya Rural Management And Development Association (NARMADA).
The school is located at Lepa Punarvas,
a settlement for the families of Narmada dam-affected people. Three of the little girls have a troubled family background. The father of Bhavana and Shivani had deserted them and their mother years ago.
The mother is now a maid servant in their school. Reva is daughter of a grocer at nearby Dogava.  The girls do not have any background of training in classical music. They have picked up music from Shubhada who takes the trouble to travel to the school by a public bus to Indore, 130 km away, once or twice a week.
Story of Shriya is more touching. She had lost her eye in a road accident a year ago. Only a week ago, a doctor provided her with an artificial, cosmetic eye. Strangers would not notice that she has only one natural eye. The other, god-gifted eye, enables her to see the world around. She is happy that she can listen to music, learn, and sing what Shubhada teaches her and others in the school.
The singers did not understand the importance of the function where they were lauded. They knew only that it was about a book written originally in Marathi by Bharati Thakur, the founder of their school. Its Hindi version, “Narmada Parikrama, Ek Antaryatra,” translated by Mrs. Mrunalini Ghule and published by Nashik-based Gautami Prakashan, was released for publication after their songs were presented.
The Marathi book, published in 2009, had later led Bharati Thakur to set up the foundation of Nimar Abhyudaya.  The girls are among the 1400 students of Narmadalaya schools in 11 villages in the vicinity of Lepa Punarvas.
By Kiran Tbakur

No comments: