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“He was a gifted child for Tabla,’ says Grammy winner Sandeep Das’ Guru Pandit Shiv Kumar Singh

“Sandeep has proved his passion for learning tabla by displaying his talent on the first sitting with me as he played Taa, considered the first mantra of tabla playing"

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Sandeep Das
Sandeep Das, ( Image credits- Wikimedia commons)

Patna, 14 February, 2017: Tabla player Sandeep Das, whose collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble “Sing Me Home” won the Grammy in the World Music Album category, had a rare love and passion for playing the instrument since early childhood, revealed his first guru Pandit Shiv Kumar Singh here on Tuesday.

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“Sing Me Home”, an album which has the contribution of Sandeep Das, on Sunday won at the 59th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Das is part of Silk Road Ensemble, a collaborative effort by musician Yo-Yo Ma to bring together performers and composers from more than 20 countries.

It was Singh who taught Das the “ABCD” of playing tabla at his Sadhnapuri residence in Gardanibagh in Patna in the late 1970s when he was barely seven or eight years old.

“Sandeep Das was a gifted child to learn and play tabla. I have not seen anyone like him. When his father Kashi Nath Das, a central government employee, brought him to me to teach him how to play tabla, I was surprised when he played tabla and replicated me on the first day itself. It was a unique experience for me,” Singh, in his mid-70s, told IANS here.

Singh recalled that Das played “Taa” on tabla on the first day of training, and that impressed him.

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“Sandeep has proved his passion for learning tabla by displaying his talent on the first sitting with me as he played Taa, considered the first mantra of tabla playing. It usually takes nearly a month for anyone to do so.

“I cannot forget an extraordinary child like Sandeep, who was full of energy to learn tabla playing, an unbelievable quality in an early age,” Singh said.

Singh said he agreed to Sandeep’s father’s proposal to take him as his disciple to teach tabla playing.

“Sandeep’s father then informed me that his son used to play tabla on the table (desk) after he listened to the radio. It was something that helped me teach him tabla playing. Sandeep was regularly coming to my residence to learn playing tabla for over an hour, and sometimes I also used to visit his home to teach him.”

Singh said he discovered a great tabla player in the making in Das during the four years (1978 to 1982) when he was learning from him here. He also advised Das to move to Varanasi and became a disciple of Singh’s guru late Kishan Maharaj.

Singh said that Sandeep is in regular touch with him.

“I am a proud to be the first guru of Sandeep. But I never imagined that Sandeep would make a name in the world for playing tabla.”

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Patna is the home-town of Das, who completed his schooling from St. Xavier High School here and graduated in English Literature with the gold medal from Banaras Hindu University. Later, he moved to Delhi and from there to the US.

Das’s last performance in Patna was in June 2015 at the Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir in memory of his guru Maharaj. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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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

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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