The only memory I have of a live performance is that of a Diwali Pahat that I attended about 8-10 years ago. I was a bit taken aback when I saw everyone’s work and discovered that all of them had a memory from when they were 4-5 years old. Perhaps that is because of the urban setting I’ve been brought up in, but I would not have wanted it to be any other way.
Diwali Pahat is a festive ritual seen in Maharashtra. Pahat means early morning (before sunrise) in Marathi and as the name suggests this takes place early morning during Diwali usually on Padwa (one of the important days of Diwali). It is like a concert but for Marathi classical folk songs usually religious songs and bhajans. Being brought up in Pune, I have seen many posters and advertisements of Pahats in different parts of the city. I always wondered, why would people wake up this early and go listen to classical music.
My mother with a few of her colleagues from the Federation of societies of our area were organizing a Pahat. Invariably I had to be a part of that. I woke up early, dressed up and went to the venue which was a neighboring society’s garden. There I saw a stage that was barely 2 feet high. I was wondering why was the stage on higher. The next thing that caught my eye was the name of the artist that was performing. I had never heard her name before and the amount of excitement on people’s faces left me baffled. It was pitch dark before the sun rise and very cold while I waited for the artists to start the performance.
I had never been into classical music. Growing up in a typical Maharashtrian family, I had listened to many classical songs but they never interested me much. I was a bit sleepy and annoyed as my holiday sleep was disturbed but once the artist came and the performances began, I was mesmerized. There were five artists, four of them playing different instruments while one of them was singing the songs and bhajans. Initially I didn’t know the songs they were singing but there were a few that I had known previously which felt really good and after that the environment had become completely serene with all the melodies and chants of different deities. It was a beautiful experience.
I knew I was going to attend many more of these. I did. I went to almost of the possible pahats I could, except for the one during the lockdown. However, even then, I made a playlist and got up early only to listen to that playlist. Ever since my first Pahat, it is now a ritual that I follow religiously every year and listen to my Pahat playlist even when it’s not Diwali.