Foreigners croon Indian ragas, regale crowds
Bada khyaal, chota khyaal, kathak, bharatanatyam teen taal on tabla and Raag Malkaus -- pure Indian classical music and dance forms.
Music, however, knows no barriers and no boundaries. And proving the age-old adage, over a dozen foreigners - mostly South Asians - are regaling crowds with their performances and dedication for Indian music.
This is part of a series of events promoted by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the National Kathak Institute (NKI). The students are drawn from Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. They say they are also enjoying their stay in Lucknow.
Wahid Abdullah of Afghanistan, who sings a mellifluous 'Piya ke paas kaise jaoon sajani' in Raag Malkhaus, told IANS he was a "long-standing fan of Indian classical music".
This music amalgamation planned under the Kshitiz (horizon) series was aimed at assimilating foreign talent into the Indian culture "and grooming them further", said Kavita Pandey, the regional head of ICCR.
"Foreigners who show interest in Indian culture are promoted by us in whatever way we can," Pandey told IANS.
The dozen-odd students are studying different courses at the Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidya Peeth, Lucknow.
Yatiraj Adhikari from Nepal says he was "very happy when people applaud his performances".
He loves playing the Raag Vihaag on the violin.
Vyankatesh Dhakaal, also from Nepal, who accompanies local Maheshwar Dayal Nagar with his tabla on 'sangat', says: "It is all about good music and learning."
Anchita Mehrani from Sri Lanka, who sings the Bada Khyaal in Raag Madhuvanti and Chota Khyaal along with Krishna bhajans, is equally at home relishing what she is learning in India.
While the Nepalese students stay at the hostel in the music varsity, the other foreigners are living as paying guests and in rented accommodation.
Off and on, students from Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also come to learn and showcase their talent. The students say they like Indian culture and are happy that most of it is akin to their own culture.
"It is more or less the same. But, yes, it is good to see that we are made to feel special yet at home here in Lucknow," said one of the students.
The food of Avadh, they chuckle, is an added temptation to the music they are learning.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)