A young and brilliant court musician was taking a stroll around the gardens of Akbar’s palace one cloudy evening four hundred years ago. It was a day that not only foretold the monsoons but also a beautiful milestone that was to come in classical music. The sky was pregnant and dark grey. It was then that the musician Ramtanu heard the sound of a unique bird. The sound oscillated between what would later be named Komal and Shuddh Nishad in Hindustani Classical music. Seduced and drawn to this sound, Ramtanu went into a deeply meditative state and emerged within minutes having composed what is now known as Raag Miyan Malhar. This raag to this day is sung during monsoons. Miyan stands for ‘Miyan Tansen’ – the name Akbar anointed on Ramtanu when he became one of the Ratnas or jewels of Akbar’s court. This anecdote is one among so many that confirm the connection between nature and music. There are instances recorded in history where a thousand lamps got lit automatically after Tansen sang Raag Deepak.
Raagam Amridavarshini of Carnatic music connotes rain and is believed to have been used during drought to summon the rains. Raag Sarang of Hindustani music came from the searing deserts of Rajasthan and is still sung in the afternoon or in the summertime. Bhoopalam of South Indian classical music, with its heavy and weighty notes, evokes the mood of the wee hours of dawn when the sky and nature await the sunrise with heavy longing. Raagas like Bhairav, Aahir Bhairav and Vibhaas of Hindustani Classical music sungbin North India do the same.
Raagas like Puriya Dhanashree and Puriya Kalyan come to life in the ‘sayankaleen sandhiprakadh’ or the evening twilight where the mix of the various flat and sharp notes of the octave reflect the merging of the hues of day and night that twilight symbolises.
Other connections that classical music has with nature are the seven notes of the Indian music scale Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni which are believed to have originated from the sounds of different animals and birds like elephants, peacocks, the cuckoo, the goat and so on. Music and nature have even more profound connections. The Vedas which is the birthplace of Indian classical music were chants that were originally composed as odes to the awesome life forces of nature like the Sun, the Moon and the Stars. They were also sung as a gesture of gratitude to the elements that our earth and therefore our physical bodies are composed of – Fire, Earth, Air and Water. The evolution of Indian musical scales from the Samveda is testified by historical texts.
This is important for us to appreciate and understand because, from time immemorial, nature has been the richest reservoir of elements that can enable physical and mental healing. Anyone in a stressful state of mind who has had the experience of walking on fresh grass with the backdrop of mountains and valleys of flowers a d fruits will tell you that when in the presence of the grand beauty of nature, no stress and no anxiety can exist. Even physical ailments abate and sometimes vanish. When we start to experience Indian classical music not just as music but as a way to connect deeply and spiritually to nature and by extension to God, we can begin to appreciate the depth of this art-form truly. And then the process of spiritual and physical healing can begin in such a natural and organic way that we will not even realise it is happening.
Let us begin to immerse ourselves in the sea of music and feel the steady beat of a taal like the beat of our mother’s heart when we were in her womb. Let us enjoy the refreshing breeze of taanas and kalpana swaras of Hindustani and Carnatic music and the solid and secure grounding that the Swara ‘Sa’ gives at the end of a performance. This is the magic we have been looking for all along. It is here and ready to heal and soothe our souls. Just as nature always has been.
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The Singer’s Block
I sat today with my electronic Taanpura and Swarmandal, both Indian classical instruments used to accompany vocal music, for my vocal Riyaaz, or practice. Riyaaz is the life breath of every singer, the fuel that keeps the singing going effortlessly. It is more than just practice. It is a philosophy in itself. It is this truth that has often caused agony and conflict inside me. Because of the revered position Riyaaz has in our lives as musicians, I have struggled many times when I have not found myself inspired to do it. At such times, it has been with humongous willpower and plodding that I have been able to muster up the will to sit for Riyaaz. It was and continues to cause a lot of guilt and distress in me, and I thought one way to resolve this would be to actually write my way into understanding what I have now come to call The Singers Block.
Pandit Jasraj with a swarmandal
One of the cues I am tempted to use to understand some of the mechanisms behind the Singers Block, is from the experiences of my students. I was sitting a few days ago with one of my students for her session, and asked her whether she had been practicing for the major annual concert event of my venture Music Vruksh. She said that she hadn’t, and had been feeling paralyzed to do it.
Since this sounded a bit similar to my experience, I probed and asked her why. She said that she felt embarrassed when she sat down to sing, because she could see her ‘mistakes’ and not tolerate hearing them.
I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to understand the feelings behind the inability to tolerate mistakes. After much discussion, we understood the immense demands the lady was placing on her music to validate her and make her feel good about herself. The reason she could not tolerate her mistakes was that everytime she made a mistake, she felt someone was judging her and ridiculing her. This was the reason for her paralysis. This is why she couldn’t sit down to do Riyaaz. She had made her music her judge, which was passing a verdict on who she was as a person. This incident brought me back to my own singers block and made me reflect. Did I have unreasonable expectations from my music? Why were my achievements in two deep forms of classical music not enough to make me feel secure and validated already?
Why was I afraid to sing? Was it because I feared that I might not be as good as I could be? Why was so much of my ego in my music? What would happen if I were to engage in music for music’s own sake, and leave my identity and its shadow out of it? For the first time, I dared to wonder.
Interestingly, this does not happen just with musicians. I have seen it happen often in people from almost all professions. There are times when we allow too much of ourselves to come in the way of what we do and how we do it. The sense of ownership moves beyond being just a healthy ability to take responsibility and onus for the work, to making our work our only source of validation.
I would assume therefore that many of the struggles workaholics have, are to do with work fulfilling a personal craving or need. They could either be trying to get away from something, or attempting to court power, wealth or adulation through the work they do to compensate for some other unmet need. I have come to realize that if we expect validation from our work as a prerequisite to doing our work, we are bound to hit a point of frustration; a block that does not allow work to progress.
The validation and recognition should be enjoyed as happy by-products of work done happily and well, rather than something that we feel entitled to. If we can transform our need for validation to a need to see our work done well, and cultivate the habit of feeling fulfilled and happy at doing our work with commitment and honesty; validation, recognition and monetary success usually follow.
There are then fewer chances of a block derailing us. But like with any skill, this is something we need to actively work on. This new habit of taking pleasure in just doing something well needs to be actively and consciously nurtured and cultivated.
As for my Riyaaz, this article I’ve written today hopefully will drive my Singer’s Block away as I resolve to sit with my Riyaaz for many upcoming events.
The writer is a vocalist of both Hindustani and Carnatic Classical music, with over three decades’ experience. She is also the founder of Music Vruksh, a venture to make classical accessible for its aesthetic and wellness benefits.
WHY HYBRID EVENTS ARE THE FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY
Despite it being the hottest month of the year and Delhi suffering a heat wave, this May has been choc-a-block full of events. The month began with the India Art Fair, which ended on May 1, but continued through its many parallel exhibits at different art galleries and public spaces. It almost immediately gave way to the India Design 2022 ID which concluded last weekend. These were largescale trade fairs open to public on the purchase of a ticket, and the tremendous crowds that thronged both of them, displayed the extent to which people craved the physicality of events. However, these major events were not the only ones taking place in Delhi – many smaller events are also being organised across the industries of food, travel, education, fashion, and hospitality. As an independent journalist I am invited to many of these, and this has given me the opportunity to observe these events up close and take note of a few things.
Firstly, it is delightful to see the events industry up and running once again, after a couple of very difficult years. Secondly, there is an amazing wealth of detail going into the curation of every event. The third and most prominent change that I have noticed in the events industry is the widespread adoption of technology leading to all events being hybrid in some way or another.
Even though we complain about the online medium, there is no denying that it has many factors working in its favour. It allowed us to function even while we were stuck at home under lockdown, it kept us sane by connecting us with loved ones in tough times, and most importantly, it allowed us to reach parts of the world we found difficult to access easily earlier. Keeping these advantages in mind – especially the increase in reach – the switch to a hybrid format for events makes complete sense. However, not every event company has the capability of successfully adopting this medium. One company that stands out in this regard is Delhi-NCR based ShowCase Events. Founded by Nanni Singh in the year 2018, the company had made itself known in the space of cultural events pre-pandemic. Once Covid struck, their operations shut down for a while, but they took the opportunity to reinvent themselves by turning to digital events. Now, with everything opening up, they have become experts at conducting hybrid events.
“For hybrid events, we need a great sync between the on-ground team and the 2D or 3D platform. We also need great internet bandwidth for the streaming and a good sound set-up. Things like video mixers and switchers are very important. Cameras have to be placed all over and the event management team has to be focussed so they can keep switching between the on-ground live requirements and the virtual field. Ultimately, great communication and coordination is required. I think this is why we stand apart from our competitors in this field – it is because we have good experience of conducting hybrid events and a well-oiled team that works beautifully together. We make the entire procedure very user-friendly which is why almost all our clients come back to us for more events,” explains Naina Kukreja, Head of Events at ShowCase Events.
The USP of ShowCase Events is certainly their ability to create customised experiences on any platform – whether it is on-ground, virtual or hybrid. Kukreja shares, “We hand hold people through every step – the size of the event doesn’t matter. We give it a personal touch and believe in delivering quality. Plus, we create an entire social media marketing campaign for them with every event and they really appreciate the results of that.” With an impressive list of hybrid events in their kitty including convocation ceremonies, medical events, tributes to musical stalwarts like Lata Mangeshkar and Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma where they gather the biggest names of the music industry, exclusive private events at embassies and hotels, and a host of others; it is clear that ShowCase Events is the foremost name in the hybrid events space. This is a wonderful thing, as the future of this industry relies almost certainly on the capability of events to be hybrid in nature.
Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for her various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on email@example.com.
NERO ART HUB PRESENTS URBAN MYTHS GROUP SHOW
Urban Myths is a group exhibition that brings together artists from diverse backgrounds who respond to the concept of urban myths in the present era of modern life while revisiting their roots in their unique visual language.
If the heat of Delhi’s summer is getting to you, an easy way to beat it is by visiting beautiful exhibits in the capital city showcasing the best of artistic works. One such is the exhibition curated by Nero Art Hub set to take place at Bikaner House from May 21-26 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. This group show of paintings titled ‘Urban Myths’ has been curated by Ranbir Rathi, and the artists whose works are on display include Ashok Bhowmick, Akshay Sakla, Dharmendra Rathore, Tapan Dash, Ranveer Rao, Ranjith Raghupathy, Rajesh K Baderia, Sanu Ramakrishnan, Sejal Patra, Satadru Sovan, Sanjay Sawant, Sweety Joshi, Komakula Rajasekhar, Mahavir Verma, and Ranjan Kau.
Ranbir RathiRanjan Kaul artwork.Tapan Das artwork.
Ranjith Raghupath artwork
Rathi puts it in simple words, “I am organizing this show in Bikaner House because I feel this is a great platform to showcase our art work to a larger audience and art enthusiasts. It is a cultural hub and this venue is known for promoting art and other cultural activities. I have always been fascinated by Bikaner House because of its unique aesthetic and the large space it provides, allowing us to do justice to the artists and their work. Bikaner House for me is a bubbling cultural hub. Its beautiful ballrooms and its history of stunning exhibits of art make it even more appealing to me. As leading galleries from the country such as Vadehra and Nature Morte have used this space earlier, this is the next big step for Nero and we are so glad to be part of this larger platform.”
Urban Myths is a group exhibition that brings together artists from diverse backgrounds who respond to the concept of urban myths in the present era of modern life while revisiting their roots in their unique visual language. Literally translated, myths are traditional narratives concerning the early history of people, usually of unknown origin, often related to religious beliefs and superstitions based on real events that transmute over time into stories down the ages. As people migrate to towns and cities in search of livelihoods, they carry with them ancient stories of their rural settings.
“On display are the works of a balanced mix of senior and emerging artists who offer an evocative panorama of individualized figurative and semi-abstract forms, using varying innovative techniques, experimentation, and expressive textures – cross-hatching, exaggerated detailing, thick brushstrokes, vibrant, unreal colours, and works that move out of the confines of a well-defined space,” explains Rathi.
As a curator based in New Delhi, who was born and raised in Kashmir, Rathi has been in this field for the past 12 years. She is a graduate of Delhi University in History and Arts and a Post Graduate in Public Relations. Rathi also pursued a degree in Fashion Design at the Delhi Polytechnic College. She started her career by working on her family business in the security industry as the managing Director of Fox Hunters Security Pvt Ltd. but later reconnected to her love and passion for art by launching Nero Art Hub in 2018 with the hope of bringing art to the masses.
At her previous exhibition ‘Withering Wings’, Rathi felt the theme was incomplete as it did not cover urban lifestyle and pertinent issues like people migrating from towns and small cities to metropolitan ones. She wanted to show this theme in a broader way to a larger audience focussing on the realities of everyday life. This is also why she chose to display work from different cities to explore the varied realities of modern living, sample people’s myriad beliefs, and hear their stories according to diverse geographical backgrounds and myths.
“I wanted to bring emerging artists and renowned artists together from different parts of India under one roof on the same platform. I’m so grateful that after two years we are able to do this physical exhibition in a broader way with a group of artists. Since our theme is ‘Urban Myths’, we started looking at profiles and artworks of artists from different regions. We asked many artists to send the full profile of their artworks related to this theme and with our team we evaluated each and every art work,” shares Rathi.
It took her nearly two months to plan and execute this display of 30 to 35 artworks. Next, she is in the process of exploring the NFT space. She says she still has a lot to learn as the ecosystem is still in the initial stages of development. “I would definitely like to find new ways to work with the associated artists at Nero in the space next. Nero’s vision is to bring Indian art to the global platform. There is a certain stereotypical perception about Indian art in the international market as they are unaware of the diversity of work that exists in the country. I want to create a space for Indian art in the international market, especially for emerging artists. New York and Singapore are two places that are on my radar for now,” she says, signing off.
Five Top Benefits of Buying Moissanite Jewelry
Moissanite jewelry has continued to become famous. If you love quality jewelry pieces, you must be aware of the many advantages, and impact diamond has in this industry. Diamond is an expensive gemstone. It’s rare and exists in small quantities. However, moissanite is a similar gemstone to a diamond. But, although moissanite is close to the diamond, they are not the same. It is a synthetic gemstone but with high durability and hardness features. There are many advantages of buying jewelry designed with this gemstone.
One distinct difference between these two gemstones is that diamonds are obtained through mining from the earth. However, moissanite stones are artificial. However, these two gemstones have many similarities, although moissanite has many distinct characteristics and is much better than diamond. It has carbon and silicon carbide. These elements are also common in all the other gemstones, including ruby, emerald, sapphire, etc. But, although the other gemstones are natural, moissanite is artificial, hence manually manufactured through different methods. This gemstone is transparent, has consistent color, and does not have impurities. Wondering if you could wear your Moissanite earrings? Below are the incredible benefits that this gemstone has to offer.
Jewelry designed with moissanite is strong and highly durable. They are resistant to scratches and abrasion. Although diamond is considered more robust than this gemstone, moissanite offers similar durability features. In addition, this gemstone does not break or chip easily, hence makes the best option for your everyday wear.
Easy to clean and maintain
Once you own a diamond, you know it is not easy to clean or maintain. This is because it gets dirty quickly. When you sweat, the diamond easily gets stained. However, moissanite gemstone is easy to clean. You can effectively use a soft cloth to wipe, and your jewelry will be sparkling clean. If you compare this with other gemstones, moissanite is extremely easy to maintain.
Moissanite is made of carbon and silicon carbide. These materials are solid, making this gemstone more durable than others. Hence, it can withstand extreme pressure, heat, and regular wear and tear elements. Thus, moissanite gemstone makes the best option for long-lasting jewelry, depending on your lifestyle.
Buying diamond jewelry is extremely expensive. But, moissanite costs half the price that you pay for the diamond. It is also cheaper than the other gemstones, including emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. In addition, this gemstone can be manufactured in labs, making the cost much more affordable than the mined gemstones.
Diamonds gemstones are heavy, 1oo times heavier than moissanite. Diamond is also huge, hence occupying lots of space. But on the contrary, moissanite gemstone is lightweight and still gives a brilliant shine. This makes it an excellent option for designing jewelry.
In addition, this gemstone is developed in labs, hence offering a vast selection. Unlike diamond mined, you can easily choose the grade and a style that suits your needs. If you could wear your Moissanite earrings, they come in different shapes and sizes. Whether you want the pillow cut, round or royal cut, or the emerald, orange, or blues, these are some options.
How green is the new black in fashion industry?
Fashion sustainability has been dominating the fashion industry for quite some time now. Yet, it was during the pandemic when humans were locked in from the outside world that they had the time to slow down and reflect on what they had done to the planet.
The fashion industry alone is responsible for a high impact on the environment when it comes to the use of chemicals to treat the fabric and it was the need to find alternatives to high waste fashion production that led to the emergence of sustainable fashion.
Fashion sustainability is driving advancement in a wide range of ways for certain significant brands leading the way. The Rising demands for designer brands to commit to environmental wellbeing have pushed them toward specific action plans moving to more sustainable production and selling. These incorporate eco-friendly designs, corporate social responsibility, sustainable assembling, and the use of honest raw materials and ingredients. However, with limited information and awareness, greenwashing issues, the absence of guidelines, and the general lack of execution, sustainability continues to face challenges.
Until recently, those wishing to purchase sustainable clothes had to buy from individual businesses at higher price points. While this has given rise to many bespoke boutiques and businesses, consumers often feel more comfortable with larger chains that they’re acquainted with. As sustainability has become more and more the need of the hour, buying economical clothes from well-known brands is now possible.
Consumers are now looking for purpose-driven brands—products and brands that line up with their way of life, health benefits and aspirational thinking. Consumer buying patterns have changed to reflect environmental conditions such as climate change, endangered species and preventative healthcare. Such buyers are additionally ready to change their shopping behaviour to diminish the impact of their choices on the environment by opting for more sustainable and recyclable clothes.
Buyers are progressively searching for items with explicit features that line up with their values, so offering the right combination is a key differentiator. However, high on the list of customers’ needs is a comfortable and easy shopping experience.
There is no question that Covid-19 was a gigantic leap in consumer behaviour and shopping trends in the fashion business. The circular economy, for example, gained a lot of popularity during this time. Brands and retailers are now effectively hoping to partake in this new economy in shifted ways to inculcate more recyclable materials and textures than plastics. Others are fashioning new ways consumers shop. Many patterns that were prevailing in the fashion industry before the pandemic were made considerably more prominent because of the situation and some were introduced freshly.
Roopam Gupta is co-founder of The Woman’s Company.
What will schools of tomorrow look like?
With everything changing at an incredibly fast pace, have you ever wondered what direction traditional schooling is set to take? Now that online mediums of education have been adopted so readily, what will the schools of tomorrow look like? The Ajeenkya DY Patil Group has an answer for you, in the form of its brand new school. GoSchool is billed as India’s first career-focused high school launched in partnership with international education leaders Pearson, iXperience, and UniDirect.
“This school combines high-quality teaching, personalised counselling, extracurricular activities, test preparation, counselling for university admissions along with cutting-edge skills to deliver a transformative high school experience. Our core philosophy is to provide the most powerful learning engine propelled by new-age Hyflex learning, which offers a hi-tech yet hi-touch model of delivering education. This usher in a new vision of education, for the next generation of students by deploying cutting-edge technologies to maximise learning,” Dr Ajeenkya DY Patil says, adding, “GoSchool is a leap towards forward-looking systems that deliver quality international education for all as a springboard for building futures. Supported by the vast ecosystem of technology partners, we are proud to deliver solutions that expand access to education, enhance student experience, improve engagement, and ignite innovation.”
“In our view, everyone is a unique individual. Therefore, we adapt our approach to each student offering them the specific challenges and customised support that brings out their best. We will endeavour to inspire our students with new ideas, to support them as they learn to think for themselves and then to challenge them to transform the lives of others,” says Sidney Rose, FRSA, Academic Director.
The school’s international partnerships provide access to an international curriculum that is focused on the skills of the future. They also set up internships and counselling for admissions to be best placed for leading universities in India and the world. Pearson brings with it a legacy of over 170 years and is recognised globally for successfully blending world-class educational content and assessment, powered by services and technology, to enable more effective teaching and personalised learning at scale.
The key attributes of GoSchool can be summarised as the following:
• HyFlex learning: It seamlessly integrates the experience of attending a brick and mortar school with the advantages of technology-led active learning methodologies.
• A strong foundation aimed at professional success: It inculcates 21st-century skills to prepare students for long-term success. By assisting students to develop critical thinking, complex problem-solving, and strategic decision-making, they profess to lead their students to assured success in their chosen careers.
• A pathway to the university of your dreams: It has inbuilt, personalised guidance on the pathway to the best universities within India and around the world. Through guidance, counselling and support we assist students to gain acceptance to highly selective universities.
• Best-in-class faculty: Rigorous instruction from experienced and inspirational global faculty with personalised assistance and progress monitoring helps students to excel and realise their potential. Student success coaches assist students to deepen academic focus while raising the bar.
• Encouragement in one’s chosen career path: They empower their students by delivering cutting-edge, in-demand skills and practical experience through global internships. Their students explore and experience different career paths from high school itself.
• Smart learning: Their holistic curriculum includes wellbeing, school clubs like art and film production and preparation for entrance exams. Peer learning groups and one-to-one mentoring ensure each student receives the best preparation for life.
The Ajeenkya DY Patil Group is known for seeing the world through opportunities, possibilities and potential. They do this by creating new concepts and new ways of thinking in a wide range of fields including sports, health, agriculture, and education. With over 200 institutes of learning along with five universities based out of Navi Mumbai‚ Pune and Kolhapur, the group also runs three hospitals and provides affordable healthcare and medical attention to scores of needy people. The DY Patil International Cricket Stadium in Mumbai is rated as one of the six best stadiums in the world and among the best sporting facilities in India. With this rich legacy, their latest venture GoSchool, located in Mumbai, is surely paving the way for what schools of the future will look like.
Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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