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Ganeshotsav in Pune: Echoing devotion with every dhol tasha beat

Dhol tasha pathaks began practising their sequences a month prior to the festival

pune Updated: Sep 16, 2018 16:38 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune boasts of 170 dhol tasha pathaks with more than 22,000 participants between the age group seven and 85.(Ravindra Joshi/HT Photo)

As the city celebrates one of its favourite and most-awaited festivals, Ganeshotsav, one cannot undermine the energy that dhol tasha pathaks bring into the celebrations. Pune boasts of 170 dhol tasha pathaks with more than 22,000 participants between the age group seven and 85.

“Dhol tasha is said to have been an integral part of Maharashtra from the medieval period. The dhol (double-headed drum) was also used to encourage the troupes during wars,” says Parag Thakur, president of Dhol tasha mahasangh Maharashtra. The dhol is often known as a mangal vadya (celebratory instrument) as well as ran vadya (instrument for encouragement during a battle), he adds.

Members of a dhol tasha pathak playing the tasha, a form of kettle drum, during the Ganpati festival procession on Laxmi road. (HT Photo)

Dhol tasha is very unique for it brings in discipline in the music. Two groups from Maval and Mulshi used to play the dhol tasha and they were called the gavthi pathak. They were seen in Kondhanpur (near Sinhagad fort) jatra (fair).

The idea of having a special class to bring in the culture of Maharashtra and retain the folk art form was implemented by VV (Appaji) Pendse, founder of Jnana Prabhodini, who also added it to the school curriculum in 1964.

The very first Jnana Prabhodini school boys pathak was formed where instruments, like were barchi (hand cymbal), dhol, tasha (a form of kettle drum) and lezim, were used.

The dhol is often known as a mangal vadya (celebratory instrument) as well as ran vadya (instrument for encouragement during a battle). (HT Photo)

“It is a systematic, energetic and disciplined group dance and art form with rhythm which also helps students develop their overall personality, team building and discipline, besides inculcating cultural values and uniting towards a social change,” adds Thakur.

After forming Jnana Prabodhini’s pathak, Appaji Pendse visited other schools, like Vimlabai Garware Prashala, Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya (NMV) Prashala and Ramanbag Prashala, where Jnana Prabodhini’s members helped start the school’s barchi pathaks. The first girl’s pathak also began in Jnana Prabodhini in 1975.

Once the maanche Ganpati mandals began inviting the pathaks, there was a demand for the lyrical sound which helped reduce the double entendre songs blaring over the loudspeakers in the 1960s.

Soon, as its acceptance and demand grew, dhol tasha pathaks were no longer only school pathaks, but pathaks formed with ex students coming together and creating their own. Shiva Garjana was one such group constituted in 2000 by all ex-NMV students.

At this point, there was a craze amongst the youth, especially college students, who were eager to learn and come up with new beats and compete against each other through pathaks.

Today, Pune boasts of 170 pathaks and 22,000 participants between the age group of seven year and 85 years, each coming from different walks of life.

“These pathaks practice for three hours daily almost one and half months before the Ganesh festival. The dhol sequence usually has five to seven beats with which the pathaks come up with their own variations,” says Thakur.

Dhol tasha pathaks with huge fan following

Shiva Garjana pathak

Ex students of Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya (NMV) Prashala came together to form a pathak in 2002. They have 550 members playing 250 dhols, 50 tashas, six dhwaj (a saffron flag held atop in the air) and 40 additional dhwaj formations. They have a website, as well as an app, and also have branches in Sydney, Adelaide and Toronto. Vijay Salunkhe is the president of this group

Manini pathak

The pathak is in its seventh year. They started the only women’s pathak in 2012 with 10 friends coming together and learning the ropes of playing the dhol. Now, they have 65 members with 25 dhols, seven tashas, one dhwaj and five cymbals. The pathak is led by Smita Indapurkar.

Smarath Pratisthan

The pathak was created in 1999 as the first non school pathak by Sanjay Satpute who called it Smarath Prathisthan. The pathak boasts of 450 members, 175 dhols, 50 tasha, 50 dhwaj and their special sequence is the sword and dhal (shield) group with 300 members. They also have 20 blind students playing the dhol during the Ganesh festival who are trained under the social welfare wing of the pratisthan.

First Published: Sep 16, 2018 16:29 IST