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Folk singer Sharda Sinha’s Devotional Songs on Chhath Festival take Social Media by Storm

Chhath Parva is a festival dedicated to the Sun God and is observed for four days in the months of Chaitra and Kartik

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Folk singer Sharda Sinha with her creative team of (from L to R) Anshuman Sinha, Nihal Parashar, Harpreet Singh and Vandana Bharadwaj.
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-By Shillpi A Singh

November 5, 2016: Released close on the heels of Chhath festival, two songs — Supawo Na Mile Maayi and Pahile Pahil Chhati Maiyya — sung by legendary folk singer Sharda Sinha have taken the social media platforms by storm. It was released on October 30 and have already grabbed more than three lakh eyeballs.

While the former was produced and released as a music video on Sharda Sinha’s channel on YouTube, the latter was jointly produced by Swar Sharda (Sharda Sinha’s Music Foundation), Champaran Talkies and Neo Bihar on Diwali.

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The songs are the first to be released by the Nightingale of Bihar, Sharda Sinha, in a decade. Her last album of devotional songs titled Arag was released in 2006. “The high-handedness of music companies made me stay away, and I chose not to release any devotional album in the last 10 years. The poor quality of lyrics and music were another deterrent.” Thankfully, all her concerns were taken care of this time around.

While the multi-talented singer has composed the songs, the project could see the light of the day because of Anshuman Sinha, who also happens to be the son of legendary singer and the brain behind this venture. “It is a true labour of love. I had been working on this idea since April. The music, the lyrics and how to time it with the festivities in November, a lot of sweat and thought has gone into the making of the song.” In the music for both songs, music producer Anshuman has ensured that the folk flavour is maintained but it also has a contemporary feel. The lyrics for Pahile Pahal was written by Hriday Narayan Jha and Supawo Na Mile by the singer and Shanti Jain; the songs were released under Swar Sharda’s banner on a digital platform, YouTube. “I am overwhelmed at the response. It is an experiment which seems to be working well,” says Anshuman.

The first song provides a real feel of the Chhath festival with shots of Chhath ghat (place to perform obeisance to Sun God). The song features the singer herself in an elegant and live form and shows glimpses of the song’s recording. It highlights different places associated with various ingredients of Chhath festival such as soop (bamboo tray) and kela (banana). It beckons the out-stationed/diaspora to visit their native place for the festival. “The video has been created by a talented young bunch of artists. Harpreet Singh, who has an album Ajab Ishq Mati Da to his credit, has done the vocal recording while Nihal Parashar has done the cinematography. The music arrangement has been taken care of by Mahesh Prabhakar. Our team had the privilege to have Aditya Dev, a renowned music producer of Bollywood who has produced songs for Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Annu Malik, Sajid Wajid, Amaal Malik, among many others, onboard our other project (Pahile Pahil),” said Vandana Bharadwaj, singer and daughter of Sharda Sinha, who is also a part of the creative team.

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The other song Pahile Pahal has been beautifully shot and tells the story of a city-based couple, who celebrate the festival by reading up on the Net but without compromising on any element associated with the four-day festival. The video also sums up the overbearing theme that one’s cultural identity looms large over one’s being and no matter where one is based, it makes sense to remain rooted to the traditional and cultural backgrounds.

“The video is very emotional. It took me back to my childhood when Chhath used to be the most important festival for us.”
Actor Manoj Bajpayee

The 6.57 minutes long film narrates the story of how an educated and career-oriented woman overhears her husband’s conversation over the phone with his mother where she is ruing the fact that the daughters-in-law aren’t interested in taking the family tradition forward, hinting at how this time around Chhath would not be celebrated at home. She then decides to take time out to fast for four days, and it speaks how the younger generation cares to stay true to one’s identity.

The video has actor Kranti Prakash Jha, who created ripples in his last outing, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, and model Kristine Zedek in the lead roles. It has been directed by Nitin Neera Chandra, and has the camera work by Sanjay Khanzode and editing by Archit D Rastogi. Jha, an actor who hails from Bihar, says, “The video brought alive my memories of Chhath. The role is a tribute to my cultural roots, the place where I come from. I would like our future generations to keep their cultural identity intact by staying connected to their roots.”

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These songs have beautifully captured the festive fervour around the four-day Chhath Parv. The music, lyrics and voice have together upped the emotional quotient of lakhs of devotees spread across the globe, most of whom either come to their native place for the festival or celebrate it wherever they are based.

The theme has struck an emotional chord with the masses, especially the Non-Resident Indians and People of Indian Origin, who can relate to the idea, and a snapshot of the four days of festivities. As a result, the videos are being shared in lakhs on WhatsApp, and are making waves on other social media platforms too. The videos have grabbed more than three lakh eyeballs on YouTube, and counting.

“It makes me emotional, It will have the same effect on all those who stay away from their birthplace. It’s a warm video.”
Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali

Chhath Parva

Chhath Parva is a festival dedicated to the Sun God and is observed for four days in the months of Chaitra and Kartik.

The first day of Chhath is called Nahay Khay. On this day, the devotees, who observe the fast, take a holy dip into the water and have a single meal.
The second day is called Kharna and the devotees observe a fast without a drop of water from dawn to dusk. The fast is broken after offering rasiao-kheer (a sweet dish made with jaggery, rice and milk) and chapattis to the Sun after sunset. After having prasad, the third day’s fasting begins. The devotees then make thekua (a cookie made of wheat flour and jaggery) to be offered to the deity the next day.

The third day is the main day of Chhat Puja and is known as Sandhya Arghya (evening offering). During the day, a daura or soop (a basket or tray made of bamboo sticks) is readied by putting all the offerings including thekua and seasonal fruits. In the evening, the fasting devotees and their family members gather at the bank of the river, pond or a reservoir decorated for the puja. It is the only time of the year on which people worship the setting Sun and offer Arghya. The third day’s fasting goes on throughout the night.
On the night of Sandhya Arghya, a canopy is made using five sugarcane sticks. The sugarcane sticks are tied together through a yellow cloth and the lighted lamps, earthen pots in the shape of an elephant are put under the canopy. The five sticks of sugarcane stand for five natural elements or panchtatva — earth, fire, sky, water and air. The lighted earthen lamps are symbolic of solar energy that sustains light. This ritual is conducted either in the courtyard of the house or at the rooftop.

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On the fourth or the final day of Chhath, people offer Arghya to the rising Sun, which is called Usha Arghya. After Arghya, the 36 hours long fast is broken by taking ginger and water.

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393