The Lockdown Chaumasa art presentation opens with this classical rendition of Raga Megh by Vidushi Shubha Mudgal, one of the leading Hindustani vocalists of contemporary times.
“Dekho Mayee Sawan Dulhe” from the album “Paavas Prasang”
Voice and composition: Shubha Mudgal
Tabla: Aneesh Pradhan
Harmonium: Sudhir Nayak
Megha Ragamala Miniature, 18th c, Rajasthan School.
Courtesy: The San Diego Museum of Art
Raga Megh, a melodic mode of considerable antiquity is one of the six principal Ragas of the Hindustani music canon; and hence also the oldest of the seasonal Ragas connected with the monsoon, known as Malhaars. The pentatonic scale is deep, sombre, brooding, majestic and full of gravitas; and yet fleeting like the clouds after which it is named.
This verse written by the 16th century Vaishnava poet Surdas describes the majestic onset of the monsoon, referring to the Chaumasa in its refrain, and painting a landscape of the lush monsoon in a very imaginative way, imagining the season to be a bridegroom, who has descended on the earth to spread joy.
देखो माई सावन दूल्हे आयो
चार मास के लग्न लिखायो
बदरन अंबर छायो
Mother! See: the Monsoon-Bridegroom arriveth!
The betrothal continues for four months,
Clouds fill up the sky majestically…
बिजरी चमके बगला बराती
कोयल सब्द सुनायो
दादुर मोर पपैया बोले
इंद्र निसान बजायो
Celebratory Lightning strikes, Cranes rejoice in the marriage procession;
The Koyal sings!
The frog croaks in joy, as does the Peacock and Cuckoo;
Indra sounds his weather drum…