Two days from now, the beats of dhol-tasha will reverberate across the city and pathaks will put up their best show while saying goodbye to Ganapati this Ganeshotsav.
Pathaks, who are an integral part of Ganapati festival, start practising the dhol-tasha almost two months before the actual festivities begin. They also practise dancing with the dhwaj (flag) in full energy and vigour. The precision with which they execute their steps and play the dhol-tasha in harmony is truly amazing. Watching them perform is sheer delight as also clicking them and making a collection of these vibrant frames.
City-based shutterbug Veda Pathak says, “When they play the dhol-tasha, their energy is infectious. As I used to play the dhol myself, I know what it feels like to be there. The energy, passion and vigour in the air is just exceptional.”
Pathak being a dhol player has accessibility to enter the human chain inside which pathaks play. Adds Pathak, “This way you are closer to the object, hence making it easier to click them and create a frame. But your composition also depends on your observation skills!”
Pathak makes ensures that every year she gets to click pictures of the processions of the five Manache Ganapati (the most respected and prominent) in the city — Kasba, Tambdi Jogeshwari, Guruji Talim, Tulshibaug Ganapati and Kesari Wada. “They go in a sequence so it gives you enough scope to click pictures of different groups playing for Bappa,” she adds.
However, there are challenges of clicking the perfect frame. “You never know when it will start raining. Besides, there is a lot of rush and commotion, but you cannot afford to get distracted. You have to be steadfast,” quips Pathak.
Soumitra Inamdar, another photographer from the city, says it is quite liberating to see how youngsters come together to not just play the traditional instruments with so much passion but also chanelise their energy in some good work.
“Dhol-tasha originated in Pune and spread to other parts of the state. Watching the pathaks perform and their devotion toward their art gives you goosebumps. While they play, there is a lot of movement happening around which makes it difficult for photographers to click. Often harsh climatic conditions like scorching heat and heavy rains may also come in our way of capturing the best moments. As a photographer we have to deal with the crowd and not lose our focus and concentration,” quips Inamdar.
When asked what attracts him to pathaks, he replies that some of them radiate positivity. “Nowadays, they also wear attractive outfits and accessories to enhance their look and appearance. Reminiscing about one of the most memorable moments of witnessing a pathak procession, he says, “Last year, it had rained heavily on visarjan. But one pathak group kept playing with enthusiasm and passion and soon people started cheering for them.”
Unfortunately due to heavy rains, he couldn’t click any picture but the experience of seeing them play will last forever.