Gandhari Blindfolded

Two days back Gangubai Hangal ,lengendary singer of Kirana Gharana, passed away. Going through the orbituary ,memoirs and tributes to her some things took my attention.

I tried to imagine the young girl clad in a saree moving out on the streets to learn music.It was a time when a career in music wasn’t very acceptable . She dared the bad words and braved the street urchins who threw dirty water on her. What struck me most was that her real name was Gandhari but that wont suit a ‘gaanewaali’ . Though she could fight the laughter and the insults but she had to change her identity for societal acceptance. Men in music were revered and bestowed ‘pandithood’ and ‘ustad-dom’ but a feminine talent of music could not surface above ‘gaanewali’.

So brave Gandhari blindfolded herself and camouflaged as Gangubai so that her great talent could survive; her love for music could live. Amidst the hardships she underwent to sustain her ‘world’ may be this was the last thing she could have complained about.

(originally written: July 24 2009)

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