This Uttarakhand artist has taught 400 Israelis how to make Didgeridoo, the Australian aboriginal musical wind instrument
Rishikesh is known the world over for its ashrams and yoga centres which are often thronged by the foreigners. However, very few know that it is also home to 55-year-old Mukesh Dhiman, a Didgeridoo maker and player, who has so far taught the art to over 400 Israelis at his studio named Jungle Vibes.
Dhiman has been making Didgeridoos, a wind-based musical instrument native to Australia, for the last 40 years after being taught by an Australian whom he had met accidentally while he used to work as a carpenter. Claimed to be the oldest musical instrument of the world, Didgeridoo is made by hollowing a tree limb or trunk and traditionally played by the Australian aborigines.
Dhiman’s studio located in the picturesque town of Rishikesh is frequented by his admirers from various countries. But, the maximum number of his admirers are from Israel, with whom he believes there is a special bond.
“I have so far taught the art of making Didgeridoos to over 400 Israelis at my studio here. I believe my relation with them is not a Guru-Shishya one but of eternal friendship to cherish for life,” said Dhiman.
Dhiman claimed that almost every month, one or two Israelis on an average, visit him to learn the art and craft of making Didgeridoos from him. “With the grace of God, the first Israelis who visited me, liked my work and after returning to Israel spoke about it to their friends. I guess that is how it all started and more and more Israelis came here over the years,” he said.
Dhiman said many Israelis after learning the art of making Didgeridoos, returned to their country and started teaching it to others there.
“Playing Didgeridoo is getting a lot of attraction there, to such an extent that they are now organising a Didgeridoo festival there for the last 12 years. I feel happy when I hear their stories. Many of them are very good friends of mine and are still in touch with me,” said Dhiman.
Israelis made a documentary on Dhiman
The Israelis are so fond of Dhiman’s passion for Didgeridoos that they made a documentary on him, namely ‘Mukesh- The Art of Shanti Living’. The one hour long documentary featured Dhiman’s Didgeridoo making and playing skills.
“It was even played by them in front of the crowd gathered at 12th Didgeridoo Festival in 2019 there. The love I get from them would be cherished forever by me,” said Dhiman.
Building a new studio with the help of Israelis
Dhiman is also building a new studio up in the hills of Rishikesh, which he calls his dream project. However realising his dream was not easy as he had to face many financial challenges. But thanks to the help from his Israeli friends, he has now started his work on the studio since last two months.
“Being an artist, I don’t have enough money to realise my dream project. But when my Israeli friends heard about it, they started raising funds for it in Israel and collected about one lakh which is being used by me in constructing the studio. They also collected money by playing the documentary they made on me,” said Dhiman, adding that some of his Canadian friends also raised funds for his new studio.
“The new ashram will be built with wood having iron-sheets as roof. It will have hollowed bamboo with rice grains inside it. So when wind will pass through them, it will produce a mesmerising sound, adding tranquillity and serenity to the ambience,” said Dhiman.
Dhiman also developed an easy to carry Didgeridoo
In an effort to popularise the art of playing Didgeridoo, Dhiman also developed a compact-sized, easy to carry version of the instrument.
“The actual sized Didgeridoo is about one to three metres long and due to its size, it is difficult to carry it while travelling from one place to another. However, this compact-sized one is about 12 inches long and very easy to carry in a bag,” said Dhiman, adding he hopes the new version would “help in spreading the art more in India and abroad”.