Pune: The Ganesh festival is celebrated not only in India but across the world these days. However, the Marathi community settled abroad misses the fun, music and dance associated with the festival. Playing the dhol-tasha (traditional drums) is an essential part of this tradition.
Dhol-tasha ‘pathaks’ or troupes have gained popularity in the past some years. The welcome or immersion processions during Ganeshotsav are incomplete without these pathaks.
Some pathaks from the city have not only perfected the art of playing the dhol-tasha after years of practice but they also have got followers/members abroad.
The Rudragarjana Dhol Tasha pathak has earned a distinction by forming a 30-member dhol-tasha pathak in Chicago, United States this year.
Tushar Mankar, Founder of Rudragarjana Dhol Tasha pathak, said, “A member from our Pune pathak, whose sister is staying in Chicago, took the initiative to launch the troupe. We provided them dhol-tasha, zaanj, Punekari Pagdi and lezim in November 2016.”
Prachi Bhagwat and Ambarish Bhagwat have been instrumental in taking the native folk music to Chicago as they have been playing the dhol-tasha for many years in Pune. Prachi, who works as an accountant in Chicago, said, “My husband and I thought of introducing our culture in the USA. There was a programme organised by the Maharashtra Mandal Chicago, in collaboration with the Chicago Marathi Shala (school), on the eve of Gudi Padwa in March this year.”
“There we played the dhol-tasha for the first time. We received a huge response from the audience. We had to practise from February with only 11 people participating in it at the Hindu Mandir of Lake County, Graylake at Illinois in the northern suburbs of Chicago with only eight dhols, three tashas, 12 lezims, eight pagdis and some zendas (flags).
Another member of the group based in Chicago, Harshadeep Ingale, a student of mechanical engineering, said, “After the event of Gudi Padwa, we started practising for the Ganpati festival at Graylake, which is a one-hour drive from Chicago. It is an open plot and no establishments or houses nearby are disturbed. So, we could practise there. We practise for three hours only on weekends in the evening. The core team consists of 20 people, in which five members already know how to play the dhol-tasha. Now, there are 35 members in the group and over 60 people have evinced interest to join.”
The members of the troupe in Chicago are IT professionals and post-graduate students. “For this Ganpati festival, we have started practising from the last week, where Tushar provides videos of their rehearsals.
Accordingly, we follow their instructions. As we practise in an open plot, there are no issues. The response we are receiving is great as people in this city are open minded. They appreciate traditions from other cultures as well,” said Bhagwat.