Dancer promotes rare instruments

'Music Tree' leaves an impression

By Anwesha Ambaly in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 20.02.15
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Rare musical instruments placed on a tree in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 19: A young dancer from the city, Rabi Ratan Sahu, has found a unique way to promote folk musical instruments of the state. He has conceptualised the 'Music Tree,' which is an artificial tree that has huge branches with no leaves. Sahu has skillfully placed around 40 rare musical instruments on the tree. The unconventional installation has been exhibited at the state culture department near Kalpana Square.

The collection includes some extremely unique string instruments like the dhuduki, dhunkel, kendara and brahma beena. A few wind instruments like the mahuri, todi and singha and metallic instruments like the ghanti, kubuji, manjeera and jhanz have been placed on the various branches of the tree.

The tribal communities of Odisha usually play most of these instruments and the collection includes a number of rare instruments, which is gradually fading away. A few of the almost forgotten musical instruments are the bhalu bansi, an ancient instrument from Bargarh district. The sound that comes out from it, is similar to the sound made by a deer, banam, which is a string instrument used in Mayurbhanj during social gatherings, and khanjani, a cylindrical instrument used by the hermits of Mahima Dharma.

Sahu has been collecting these instruments for the last three years after wandering in various rural areas of Kalahandi, Korpaut, Ganjam, Kandhamal, Sundergarh and Bargarh districts.

"There are a few instruments, which are no more available like the singha (a wind instrument made from the horn of sambar deer). But, I got hold of a singha from a tribal community after a lot of pleading. There are others like the jodi nagara and dhol which is custom made after I requested folk craftsmen to make one for me," said Sahu, who runs dance academies in Padampur and Bhubaneswar, imparting training in Sambalpuri folk dance.

This is for the first time that the 'Music Tree' is being displayed but Sahu plans to promote it across the state. "I wanted to make a concrete collection and then show it to the public. If my installation were placed inside a stall, none would have noticed it. That is why I thought of an innovative way to popularise our traditional instruments. The state culture department has agreed to showcase the installation during various cultural festivals that are held in various districts," said Sahu.

Sahu is also a research fellow under the Union ministry of culture.

The installation is attracting a large number of people, especially during the evenings, when the tree is beautifully illuminated.

"There are a few instruments placed on the tree and I have never seen them before. It is absolutely eye-catching," said Aparupa Mohanty, a schoolteacher.