Its not the drum !

Its a big hefty drum. With a red cloth to cover. Perhaps to cover its might. Perhaps to cover what lies inside. These are distinctly rural men. You can see it in their looks and the ease with which they heave it on to their shoulder, lean on to the other side, and let the beats do the talking!

Beats that you are unfamiliar with. But resonating with what you know so well. From your own land. You wince. As memories of another time flow. In some time, there is music. Here, these three drummers whip up your heart beat.

At the other side, the charcoal embers laced with incense powder fumes! At yet another, amidst the crowd, there is palpable expectation.

In a short while, hips, legs, head and all other parts of the body sway to the beats. In a synchrony that begs to find a new word. A word better than ‘synchrony’ !

The hands. Oh yes, the hands hold those pots fuming embers !

Your heart skips a beat. As the drummers and the dancer get into a jig now and then. Un-rehearsed. But flawless, for all of it is in the flow of the moment. You wonder, how he heaves such a big drum on on his shoulder, creates music, does a jig in response to the dancers steps. Smiling all the way.

You wonder how those dancers hold those hot embers yet stay connected to each step of the drum beat. So graceful. And so complete. Smiling all the way.

You get goose bumps. Dancer after dancer. Some are artistic. Others mesmerise. Yet others hold the eye. All in seamless flow.

You notice that the pictures that you attempt to click are getting blurred. The angles are missing. There is a lot of shake. You wonder whats wrong with the camera. And realise that the cameras just fine. Its just you moving to the beats from those big drums.

To you, it appears that the real dance is the one that’s on in each persons heart. As people smile. Clap. Cry. Go moist in the eye. Laugh. Cheer. Click. Record. And of course, dance.

Right there. As the drummers whip up the music. And the dancers catch it from thin air. And throw it right back at the drummer.

Perhaps everyone is connected to a different time. Perhaps a different place. Perhaps a longing to recreate that time and place, now. In a different distant city. Perhaps its a nested joy in being one with similar minds and very similar longing.

You realise that you are in a trance. Soaking in the unfamiliar drum beat, the dance and the fragrance. And something more.

There are you are. Aware. Unsure. At peace. Strangely happy. As those rural drums get the city dwellers dance in joyous abandon !

Later on, you lie in bed, thinking of the evening. The drums, the dance and the beautiful women and handsome men. You realise, that you can describe all of that.

And you are aware, of something else that was there about the air. An undescribable part. You know that its there. Yet, it eludes description. You try thinking about it.

You are tired. And you choose to leave it at that. Half asleep, you mumble to yourself, ” perhaps it is Durga. Perhaps its just the dance”.

You realise that sleep envelopes you. You know you will sleep like a log today. After a very long time.

And as you slip into sleep…you mumble…”Perhaps, perhaps… its just the drums.”

(Written after attending the Powai Durgotsav ’09. Danuchi Dance. Friday. 25th Sept ’09. All snaps from the event)

15 thoughts on “Its not the drum !

  1. amreekandesi says:

    Kavi, you are a genius!

    I could feel goosebumps reading this post…you described it all so well, and passed on your feelings to the reader! Kudos!

  2. tina says:

    Hi Kavi,
    Thanks for showing and explaining so nicely, how Durga Puja is being celebrated there. Your detailed explanations has given us that divine feeling.

  3. Neha says:

    phew, I am speechless…I travelled, felt and experienced each and every moment with this post…who cares about traffic anymore na if such a great durgotsav can be seen n experienced personally…the clicks are awesome, the narration is mind blowing…wow…I don’t have words to describe what i am feeling at the moment (a cliched line from me, but it is true and dil se)…:)

  4. sujata says:

    I love the dhunuchi naach, and i miss it all sitting here, where the beat of the dhak and the dhunuchi is not allowed by authorities..still am glad that I get to be a part of the puja that is performed here. Your pics and description brought back the memories

  5. nsiyer says:

    Lovely Kavi. Well written and kept me going till the end.It brought memories of what I had witnessed some years back.

  6. Aparna says:

    I was there, where were you? I did see some people taking photos, if you can tell me what you were wearing, may be I could identify you.

  7. You have perfectly captured (despite the blurred camera angles) the energy and vibrancy of the dhunuchi-naach. Made me relive a lot of wonderful festive memories.

  8. Swatantra says:

    Amazing pictures!! The pictures describes the energy very well!! In punjab we call this drum as DHOL.. It reminded me of those days… Thanks for sharing!!

  9. kaushik says:


    Now you make me miss Calcutta even more….

    In our “para” pujo, the dhak made everyone, including people like me, with two left foots dance…

    Thanks for the post!


  10. Onkar says:

    Excellent. It is not easy to imagine and write like this.

  11. Ranu says:

    Hey you actually captured the essence of Puja and the reason for the dhak, dhunuchi (and the jokar) and the reason why bengalis crave for them.

    I love both and never missed it even one day……. makes Ma realllllly real….. amongst us.

    Happy navami…. and Shubho Bijoya !!!!

  12. manju says:

    What lovely narration- it seems as if we were there with you, witnessing the festivities!

    And of course it was the drums- they made you sway to the beat, didn’t they?:)

  13. That was lovely Kavi!! Its really very well written…i simply loved it. It was really a well detailed post!!

  14. Kavi says:

    Amreekandesi : Thank you! It was an involved moment for me ! A moment in time, that i tried to recapture ! Thanks

    Tina : Thank you ! I am indeed glad that you got a perspective !

    Neha : Thanks a ton for the generous and free flowing appreciation. I am indeed touched and keeps me going.

    Sujata : Sad that you arent able to get the drum beats over there ! But i guess the essence is around getting the atmosphere going. And i think thats on ! Well and true !


    NS Iyer : Thanks Sir !

    Aparna : The one thing that i found difficult was to keep the flashes and cameras out of my frame !

    Well, i am truly an ordinary man and i guess on that day i was in a black T-shirt ! Will catch up with you sometime… 🙂

    Sucharita : Thank yoU! Glad those moments came back to you ! 🙂

    Swatantra : Thank you !~ Glad a few memories got triggered off !

    Kaushik : Welcome here !! And made completely flat footed statues like me jive too !!

    Great to connect up mate !

    Onkar : Thank you for those kind words..i was just reliving a moment that impacted me !~ 🙂

    Ranu : thank you ! Shubho Bijoya indeed !

    Manju : Thank you ! As i said..i was just reliving that moment here…

    NR : Thanks mate ! As ever ! 🙂

  15. Jeevan says:

    You brought the mood here of dancing to beats. what a magic the drums do in creating beats that put on shake all of us and here include the cam!

    hope the evening beat you to sleep in night 🙂

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