As India celebrates the 151st birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Friday, sitar player Niladri Kumar has launched his version of the devotional song Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram to pay homage to the Father of the Nation.
“Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram” is an excerpt from the hymn “Sri Nama Ramayanam”, originally composed by Lakshmanacharya. A modified version of the composition was made popular by Gandhi.
“‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ is a tune that is very close to me. All these years it has only been a feature in my live concerts but today is the first time ever, I am actually releasing it as a track for audiences to listen and connect with,” said Niladri.
“When I came to know that 90 years ago, during the Dandi March this was the tune that inspired and lifted people’s spirits, it brought about that togetherness amongst all Indians. I just felt that today as a tribute, especially during these unusual and trying times, music is that element that has the power to bring about that hope for all. And as this is Indian instrumental swadeshi music, it goes beyond the barriers of language. I usually play this live on the Zitar, but for this I have played both the Sitar and the Zitar,” he added.
For the music video of the track, Niladri has collaborated with Rangoli artist Minar Patil, who used salt and rangoli to create a real-life depiction of the Dandi March.
“Minar’s work is amazing. Once you see it you cannot imagine that he did this with Rangoli. In our Indian culture, rangoli is usually created on a special occasion and October 2 being one, he came on board for the video and has used salt and rangoli to create this work of wonder,” said Niladri.