“Healing notes of surrender and emotions.”
In the Southeastern pocket of Uttar Pradesh, also known as Purvanchal, lies the cultural capital of the country, Banaras. Banaras is so rich in its culture that the streets themselves can leave you feeling overwhelmed within a few days. Accommodating various cultures of the country and even the world, Banaras constitutes a population that comes from ethnic groups belonging to every nook and corner of India. The Ghats smell of Ganges and the hustle and bustle within the city sounds like loud music to your ears. Within these sounds lies the music, that has typical Bhojpuri flavour in the truest possible sense.
The artists that reside within this city understand their folk music either through family tradition or tremendous passion for the art. Most of them, highly experienced and accomplished in their field, have had the chance to represent their culture around the globe. One such artist is Sucharita Gupta, a classically trained vocalist and has represented the Bhojpuri culture, specializing in Thumri and Sohar folk forms. Belonging to the Bengali community and coming from the state of Assam, when we spoke to her, she agreed to meet us at the Gurudham Temple, which was constructed in 1814 by the orders of Maharaja Jay Narayan Ghoshal, who was the emperor of Bengal at the time. She came along with one of her students, Saurabh Srivastava, who is learning classical vocals under her supervision. Accompanying them was a brilliant Tabla player, Lalit Kumar, a teacher and a Tabla accompanist at Banaras Hindu University. As someone who believes that music can cure the soul, he displays the purity in his music exceptionally well and believes that music runs in his family.
Once we got into a conversation with her, we could deeply fathom the identity Sucharita Ji has created of herself as a teacher. Her focus primarily being on empowering every individual through the spiritual journey that music has the power to put them through. She has been working towards achieving her goals, by making it possible for women from various regions, through her online classes and currently teaches over 50 students from all around the globe. Her presence as a teacher exists in Indian metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and even in the US as she also has students in New York City. Being a guru in classical vocals, she expressed her emotions towards the lack of support women usually get in our world, especially if they want to achieve goals that are considered relatively unorthodox.
As we all made our way through Gurudham temple together, we realized our good fortune in terms of the opportunity to understand the breathtaking structure, primarily due to its intelligently designed architecture. It had eight courtyards with eight entrances, each of which would have light and shade during different times of the day. This made it quite convenient for us to select a good location for them to record their songs without having to sit under the sun. When they started performing, we couldn’t believe our eyes and ears as soon as we heard Sucharita Gupta’s captivating voice in complete harmony waith the beats of the Tabla and the sweet-sounding Harmonium played by Saurabh Sharma.
“Bahut dinan ke baad,
(After so many days)
Shyam sang hori mai khelungi,
(I shall play Holi with my beloved)
Pitambar Nilambar honge”
(Brahma and Shiva will also witness)
Her ‘Holi geet’ was in itself a display of excellent vocal ability, which she believes in teaching and passing on to many of her students with the help of offline as well as online classes. Her belief that anyone can learn music at any point of time in their lives through the help of a good teacher is what makes her harmonious and a skilled music guru that she is. Along with her student, as well as the amazing instrumentalist, Lalit Ji, who shows complete faith in her teachings as well as musical ability, she made a mark on our mission to discover the talent that resides within the region. Experiencing her performance abilities was one of the most memorable moments of lives that is going to be cherished forever.