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Indian expatriate classical singer enthrals Muscat

27 May 2023 sufi renditions

Dr Vandana Jyotirmayee, Hindustani classical singer and professor at University of Technology and Applied Sciences, enthrals the audience with Sufi renditions at a concert in Muscat last week

Dama dam mast Qalandar‘ (Every breath for the ecstasy of Qalandar)…the mesmerising essence of this spiritual Sufi qawwali written in the honour of the most revered 12th century Sufi saint of Sindh, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar of Sehwan Sharif, filled the Jabrin Ballroom of hotel Intercontinental Muscat on May 19, as Dr Vandana Jyotirmayee, Hindustani classical singer, held an elite audience captive with her soulful renditions at a unique concert.

With many immortal renditions, from traditional classical to more soul-stirring ghazals, including the popular nazm – Aapki yaad aati rahi raat bhar (Thoughts about you haunted me all night long), Dr Vandana, who is a professor at University of Technology and Applied Sciences, enthralled the audience which comprised music lovers, high level dignitaries as well as faculty members and students of various educational institutions in Oman. She has been attached with the Ministry of Education in the sultanate for more than one and a half decades.

“Music is the language of the soul, that beyond doubt, heals us. Songs and soulful renditions transform emotions into tearful smiles,” says Dr Vandana, adding, “‘Music is one of the finest gifts by the Almighty to human beings. It has the power to elevate you to a meditative state, to submerge you in the depth of varied emotions, and transform your inner being.”

Dr Vandana was accompanied on stage by India’s talented musicians – the world famous tabla player Shreedhara Sureshwara Chari, a disciple of Ustad Allarakha Khan Qureishi, and mandolin and guitar player Amar Sangam Das, a disciple of the grand maestro Pandit U Srinivas – called the ‘Mozart of Indian classical music’. On the keyboards was a local musician, Cherry Abraham, who teaches at Muscat’s popular Harmony Music Institute.

The evening of ghazals and Sufi songs was a classical treat for those who appreciate Hindustani classical music and the confidence and grace with which Dr Vandana delivered every rendition kept the audience gripped and begging for more with several ‘once more’ requests.

Dr Vandana had completed her music training in the best Hindustani classical ‘gharanas’ (derived from the word ‘ghar’ or ‘house’ from where a particular style of music originated) from age six. She has trained with the Gwalior gharana, Kirana gharana and Gaya gharana building up a sound repertoire of varied renditions over the past few decades.

sufi renditions

At the event, Dr Vandana was felicitated by the chief guest, H E Amit Narang, Ambassador of India, who also honoured the accompanists on stage. The overall mood was one of bliss as the accomplished singer’s music had the ability to transcend all other virtues and unleash general feeling of well being and tranquility.

About the healing power of music, Dr Vandana said, “It’s a respite from the daily mundane routine that music is. It’s power had been recognised by the famous Indian scientist J C Bose who experimented with plants and demonstrated how plants, that were exposed to soulful music, responded to it, and showed better growth than those that were not.”

“The swaras (notes) have a healing power and this power is godly. The seven notes of music are so powerful that these pervade the whole universe. Music has a magic, which is unique and inexplicable,” she asserted.

Dr Vandana, who has held concerts in many other countries, besides India, is the daughter of Dr Urmila Singh, a recipient of many awards, including one presented by the first prime minister of India, late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

“As the heart yearns for more renditions from Dr Vandana, who enraptured us in her superb singing, I, too, recall the legendary English poet, William Wordsworth’s words – ‘The music in my heart I bore, long after it was heard no more’. Truly, this line from, Wordsworth ‘The Solitary Reaper’ captures the unforgettable impression left in our hearts by Dr Vandana,” said Amita Sanghavi, English Language lecturer, Sultan Qaboos University, who was among the audience.

“Indeed, the memory of the overwhelming ecstasy felt on hearing her sing Sufi music transcended us to a sublime state where one heals as one feels unified with the divine,” she added.

Concert renditions

Dama dam mast kalandar

Chhaap tilak sab chheeni

Tu maane ya na maane dildaara

Ae ri sakhi moray piya ghar aaye


Hangama hai kyon barpa

Kabhi kaha na kisi se tere fasaane ko

Humri atariya pe aao re

Aapki yaad aati rahi raat bhar

(With inputs from Amita Sanghavi)

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