The Odissi Raga Mahotsava is the most awaited annual endeavour of Guru Gopal Panda Odissi Academy (GGPOA), Bhubaneswar. The two-day festival celebrates authentic Odissi ragas and raginis, through solo, duet and group presentations in vocal, instrumental music and dance. All these performances are based on the original compositions of Guru Gopal Panda from a chosen bouquet of authentic Odissi ragas. The Odissi Raga Mahotsava and Award Ceremony 2018, organised by the GGPOA was held this year at the Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar on 26th and 27th October with great enthusiasm.
Guru Gopal Chandra Panda, who has received many accolades including the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, for his colossus contribution in the field of Odissi music, is a musician, musicologist and an erudite scholar, who has delved deep into the authentic treatise on Indian music. He believes with full conviction and a clear vision that the Odissi music was originally one of the four branches of Indian music as described by Bharata Muni in his Natya Shastra, “Chaturvidha pravrttishcha”– innunerating Avanti, Dakshinatya, Panchali and Audramagadhi.
He believes according to his in-depth study, that Avanti became Hindustani, Dakshinatya became Carnatic and the Audramagadhi is the Odissi because the Audra is the Utkal and Odisha of today. He is working with strong determination to win Odissi music its deserved status as one of the classical music styles of India along with a number of scholars and linguists who debate if Odia language has been given the classical status, the Odissi dance has been recognised as a classical dance style, why not Odissi music?
The GGPOA, is carrying forward the rich legacy inherited from the Guru by way of training the next generation and trying its best to propagate Odissi music in its pristine glory of classical music under the able guidance of Guru Gopal Panda, at par with Hindustani and the Carnatic music. The annual Odissi Raga Mahotsava is also working towards this mission.
The festival opened with the release of ´Odissi Raga Ratnabali Part IV CD, a complete volume of compositions by Pt. Gopal Panda in a set of eight recorded ragas with detailed information about their distinct features. The Odissi Brind Gayan by the students of the GGPOA, presented composition in raga Goudi, an authentic Odissi raga, which is not found either in Carnatic or Hindustani music with the same combination of notes.
The melodious chorus was conducted by Sangeeta Panda, the daughter and disciple of Guru Gopal Panda and the mastermind behind this thoughtfully conceived and efficiently executed festival. Her introductory alaap melodiously etched the outline of the raga before the group of male and female students took turn to colour the portrait of the raga rendering the composition in raga Goudi, set to a 14 beats Tala cycle, followed with a Drut composition adorned with alluring Alankarik Sargam Taans.
The scintillating solo Mardal Vadan by Guru Sachidananda Das, based on Triputa and Adi-tala of seven and eight beats cycles respectively, came next, highlighting a variety of chhand in Tistra, Chatusra, Khanda, Misra and Sankeerna Jati of 3,4,5,7,and 9 matras respectively. The percussionist impressed with his command over rhythm and the rhythmic intricacies of the chosen chhanda and talas. The inaugural evening concluded with the Odissi duet by the Padma Shri Awardee Datuk Ramli Ibrahim and Gitika Shree from Malaysia, based on traditional Odissi ragas like Mangala Gujjari, Lalitaa and Chakrakeli.
“Trayi” was a unique trio of Hindustani, Carnatic and Odissi music came as a comparative case study of the three Indian classical music styles, where the stage was artistically divided into three sections. The extreme left had the gifted Carnatic vocalist Sudha Raghuraman seated with her accompanists Parthasarathi Suresh on mridangam and Vijay Ganesh Minakshisundaram on violin, the centre section had Odissi vocalist Sarita Panda accompanied on harmonium by Sangeeta Panda and on mardal by Niranjan Sahoo and on extreme right was the Hindustani vocalist Mandakini Swain with Jitendra Swain on tabla and Guru A. Maheshwar Rao on harmonium. The three classical vocalists took a similar pentatonic scale named raga Durga in Hindustani, Shuddha Saveri in Carnatic and Khand Kamodi in Odissi and treated it in their specific styles one after the other. This gave them ample opportunity to establish their own individuality before they came together to present Jayadeva’s ashtapadi, “Chandana charchita…” in raga Ramakiri indicated by the poet himself and composed by Guru Gopal Panda.
The festival concluded with Odissi dance by Guru Meera Das and two of her talented disciples with Saabari Pallavi, an authentic Odissi raga composition by Sangeeta Panda and an Odia song based on raga Madhu Saranga, a unique raga of Odissi music with distinct characteristics. The two-day festival, beyond doubt, established not just the identity of Odissi music but also provided an opportunity to reflect upon the comparative study of all the three streams, Hindustani, Carnatic and Odissi and their rasaswadana relishing their rasa, as classical music of India.