I happened to attend an evening of Patriotic Songs – organised by “Kenbharti Centre” on 15th August 2016 at the Oshwal Junior High Auditorium in Parklands, Nairobi. This event which has now become the Signature Event of the organization is their 5th one. I remember having attended their first such event at the Simba Union on Forest Road as well but in between missed out on their events.
I write here not in mere praises of Kenbharti or the evening but what you are reading is an expression of my own sentiments and observation during the program. The program began slightly after 8 pm and the auditorium by then was quite filled up. People who had fed themselves pretty well on the refreshments that were served from 7.15 onward were slightly well settled to begin with. There was a lot of hustle bustle and movement as they were selecting their seats.
The High Commissioner of India to Kenya, Shrimati Suchitra Durai came as the Chief Guest along with her better half, Ambassador Shri Swaminathan. The well lit auditorium was a pleasant sight as the arm rests of the seats had sequential ribbons of saffron, white or green tied upon them in alternation. I admired the thought of depicting the Indian Triclour via this small but very visible and prominent touch. The stage was an epitome of the Indian Flag as well and I observed my thoughts about it. To witness such an Indian set up gave me a sense of Pride even though I was not at all any part of the organization. I was attending this as a guest of The Chairman of Kenbharti Centre, Mr. Abhijeet Gupta who never fails to invite at any of such events.
Why did I feel the pride? Why was it giving me a sense of happiness? The program hadn’t begun yet and I was already enjoying being there. But this feeling took a twist when the announcements and introductions were being made of the stage. Something about the usage of language which didn’t sound like a perfect Hindi was giving me an unpleasant taste. I guess, I was biased. The program hadn’t made any claims to be conducted in Hindi, and I had no right to be scrutinizing anyone’s diction.
The very fact that there is this dedicated group of people who tirelessly and selflessly work hard besides their busy work schedules to celebrate Being Indian speaks volumes about their love for the Country. I felt I am nowhere near them in any way when it comes to dedication, so why should I be affected if someone used Madam instead of Shrimati while introducing the High Commissioner. So what if they used the word agaaz instead of aarambh to announce the beginning of the musical program. I think I was being petty being critical at many such words.
The program finally commenced at around half past eight with a bhajan” Vaishnav jan ko…” by Manasi Sardesai and Dhananjay and all silly thoughts were shut up in self confinement. What better a way to begin the musical journey with a bhajan which shifts memories towards The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. There was a sudden stillness and all movement in the Hall was now halted.
The ambiance had turned very pure and serene for us elders and those who had little ones with them – remarkably they too became silent in following their elders. My focus had now shifted from the song to another observation. Such are the Sanskaras (Values) of our Tradition that even the small children know the sanctity of spirituality. The obedience and observation of being quiet when one should be.
Yet another Observation came forth when Deepak Sharma, the CEO of Medanta Africare vocalized “Jab zero diya mere bharat ne...”. Not only were the audience participating with enthusiastic applause throughout, it was a moment of identifying our pride. We did nothing towards finding the Zero and many youngsters might have learnt of the Introduction of the ZERO by Aryabhatta, the ancient Indian Scholar for the first time that evening. Yet weren’t we all proud of it. Did we not feel WE have given something to the world by giving the दशमलव or Zero? I would call it our proud patriotism.
A turn of emotions from pride to solemnity came forth as Upkar Singh Ji gave the mesmerizing rendition of “hokey majboor mujhe, usney bhulaya hoga...” accompanied by Deepak Sharma. Two deep vocal chords, one strong composition and an efficient bunch of instrumentalists touched every heart with the emotions of pain and the sacrificial duties of the men who protect our country’s borders. This was a sort of silent patriotism where we salute those soldiers from our hearts.
Swarali Vaze’s rendition of “Vande Mataram…” brought back memories of the action oriented scene from the movie, Anand Math which I had seen on Doordarshan during one those precious Sunday slots of Hindi Movie. The movie had triggered some patriotism in my heart at that young age of maybe 11 years. I wondered if the children sitting in the audience felt any of sentiment in their hearts, living away from India, may be considering Kenya as their home-ground. I admired the parents for tagging their little ones along with a hope of instilling some bonding with India and Indian-ness.
No sooner had I wondered about these kids that a very young Akshaya with an even younger accompanist enthralled the audience to the lively presentation of Alisha Chinoy’s success song ” Made in India….“. She sang it with the ease of a professional – unhindered voice, enjoying all the clapping from the crowds and living in the song as she sang correcting the mike position for her young accompanist. A thought occurred that I should term it as Young Patriotism.
The power filled slightly accented version of “Chitthi aayi hai….” by Nelson Asuvaz brought out some hidden emotions and along came the tears of separation. The separation from home-land, the separation from loved ones, the memories of gone days were encompassed not so much in the lyrics, but more so in the way it was sung from the heart. It was truly a soulful delight. My daughter sitting on the next seat couldn’t comprehend the reason behind my tears and I thought, ” she doesn’t feel it, The separation, as she was born and brought up in Kenya. It was more so about us, the people born in India that it touches the soul at the very mention of the country. This is probably the Born Patriotism which my parents might have felt towards Sindh, having been born there and forced to evict their birth-land. I cried silent tears on their behalf in that small yet large moment. I had felt their pain within me.
Then came the moment where all definitions go silent. The mesmerizing belting out of the song “Ae mere vatan ke logon……” had the auditorium stunned to silence. The silent homage could be felt from the hearts, the heavy hearts, the grieving hearts, the proud hearts and the saluting hearts all combined in an awestruck performance on stage. The choice must have been tough to present such an impactful song without any visible signs of emotions expressed by the singer from India. Such was the effect that the audience stood up to give her a standing ovation. What a depiction of the Saluting Patriotism it was.
The mood was so dense and emotional that it was quickly switched over to lighter musical tunes and the awesome presentation of “Jahaan daal daal per sone ki …..” by Upkar Singh Ji had a good balance between the heaviness and light moments of the evening. This veteran singer has a habit of setting the stage pulsating by the depth in his voice. The audience were captivated by the musical notions of the song and everyone seemed to be living in the moment of this celebration of the 70th Independence Day of India. Before I end, I ask you what kind of Patriotism would you call it? A Musical Patriotism? I would love to hear from my readers about their experience of the same. Those who attended the program and those who didn’t attend – I believe there wouldn’t be much difference in opinions.