UP singer relinks with Indian diaspora in Trinidad

UP singer relinks with Indian diaspora in Trinidad

Photo : Malini Awashti

Port-of-Spain:  Internationally-acclaimed Uttar Pradesh singer, Malini Awashti has re-established links with the Trinidad Indian diaspora.

And she did so, enthralling the audience at Divali Nagar, the mecca of East Indian culture, in Chaguanas, Central Trinidad on Saturday night, November 11. Before hundreds of patrons, she mesmerized her audience with Bollywood songs, Bhojpuri songs, songs reminiscent which were sung by our forefathers before indentureship, 1845 to 1917. And she posed on the Divali Nagar stage belting local chutney echoed by several of our local Chutney singers. Ms. Awashti was at home and was totally comfortable as though she was in Uttar Pradesh. As she sang, she espoused cryptic sayings of Indian cultural practices in Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius, Fiji and other parts of the globe. There were moments of nostalgia as one can glean from her own personality. She took her Trinidad audience to Uttar Pradesh, without passport or plane ticket, not knowing it.

Ms. Awashti and her eight-member troupe came to Trinidad and Tobago and gave three striking performances, all of which had her audience spell-bound with her intricate movements, exuding body language with every word espoused from her lips, and thus exciting the hundreds to attended  performances at Shree Raam Dhaam in Diego Martin; Divali Nagar: and Naparima Boys’College, San Fernando.

Her presence in Trinidad was through the courtesy of the Indian High Commissioner, Shri Bishwadip Dey, the Indian High Commission, and the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Cultural Co-operation. It marks part of the year-long celebration of the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence. Similarly, it also marks the 172nd anniversary of Indian Arrival Day, May 30 2017. And I might add, it also signaled the end of indentureship 1917 to 2017. So her presence on Trinidad soil was three-fold.

She remarked that her performance at the Divali Nagar was a remarkable one.

For about two hours, non-stop, Ms. Awashti thrilled her audience, only to allow her daughter to render two songs, which she later resumed with exuberance—singing, dancing drawing from her vast and endless repertoire. While she sang, she chatted with the audience. Hers was an emulative show which she exuded with theatrical precision.

Shri Dey reflected in a short address that the Indian diaspora has maintained the strong links with India, even though thousands of miles away as it is reflected in the music, songs, dances, cuisine, jewellery and clothes.

The Indian diplomat spoke in glowing terms of the progress and success and achievement of the Indian diaspora which was originally sourced from India, principally Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, when approximately 148,000 East Indians were brought here to arrest the decline in the agricultural capacity.

Dr Deokienanan Sharma, President of the National Council of Indian Culture(NCIC) also addressed the eager audience to hear Mr. Awashti. The programme was shared between Surujdeo Managroo, public relations officer and Ms. Meera Gangapersad, executive NCIC member.

Music filled with the fragrance of one’s own land, the sweet melody of the classical nature embedded in it, the sweetness of traditions and culture, and a performance that will leave you spell bound.   She is magic, she is pure joy, she is Malini Awasthi. Born in Uttar Pradesh's Kannauj on 15 October 1966, Malini Awasthi is India’s renowned folk singer. She says that her soul is in the soil of her land. “Service to the country and preserving folk culture is my religion. Family, music, literature, travel, village society, this is my life.” This very statement about herself by Malini Awasthi speaks a lot about her personality.

Malini was into music since her childhood. Her first training in classical music, which went on for about six years, was by Shujat Hussain of the Rampur Gharana. After this, she got training from Gorakhpur’s Ustad Rahat Ali Khan.Ustad . He trained Malini in thumri, dadra, ghazal and folk music. After this, Malini Awasthi got a world famous singer in the form of her teacher, Vidushi Girija Devi. It was Malini's dedication that impressed Girija Devi so much that she accepted Malini as her student. Malini Awasthi learnt khayal, eastern music, dadra, hori, chaiti, kajri kind of sub classical genres of music from her. She started performing on stage at the age of ten and once her journey on stage started, it never stopped. The mix of education and music and its superb balance led Malini to establish herself as an artist who is today called the ‘thinking artist'. She completed her post graduation in music in 1988 from Lucknow’s renowned Bhatkhande Sangeet University. There is no such reputed music festival today where Malini has not earned praises and applause from the audience. She started performing outside India in the 90s and since then, she is only going strong. Malini Awasthi’s singing includes various creations ranging from creations by Ameer Khusro to Gauhar Jan. It includes traditional songs related to our culture. She has done the job of protecting the fast vanishing tradition of folk music. It is owing to her efforts and research that today, she is part of some of the most renowned music festivals. Malini is also actively involved in programmes conducted by Doordarshan and radio. In between all this, when Malini gives a message to the society to strengthen their daughters, her singing becomes even more meaningful. Malini Awasthi has got senior fellowship for folk singing. She is also a member of Sangeet Natak Academy’s folk music special team. In UNESCO’s Indian national cooperative commission, she is a member of Sanskrit’s deputy commission. She has started Sonchirayya, an organisation for the promotion of folk music and folk singers. Sonchirayya is a platform for the folk art of Awadh, Bundelkhand, Brij and Bhojpur. Among the many awards Malini Awasthi has been conferred, Sangeet Natak Academy award by the Uttar Pradesh government is worth a mention. She is also the recipient of Padma Shri, India’s prestigious honour, for her dedicated mission to protect and uplift folk music. She received the award in 2016.

She takes the hearts of the people of Trinidad and Tobago as her award for furthering enhancing Indian culture. That’s her memorabilia.