Shankhnaad adding to the euphony of Shobhayatras

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Apr 2018 08:32:28


By Praveen Vighre,

INDIA has a long tradition of Rathyatras, Shobhayatras and religious processions, like the Jagannath Puri Rathyatra, Mysore Dasara etc, apart from the processions held on local level. Nagpur has a rich tradition of Shree  Ram Janmostav Shobhayatra which is taken out from Poddareshwar Ram Mandir. The 52-year-old tradition is complete with beautiful floats, music, folk dances and bhajans (sankirtans). But two years back, it got a wonderful addition that is making it stand out. The addition is that of Shankhnaad (conch blowing) by Panchajanya Shree Ram Sevak Dal.

As many as 351 young men blow the sacred ‘Shankh’ during the 14-km-long route in unison. They are accompanied by a team with 6 dhols, 2 nagaras, 6 zhanjs, 1 ghadi ghanti and 1 kasa ghanti, all traditional instruments, usually played during religious functions. The rhythm is unique and can be heard during Ram Janmostsav Shobhayatra and at Ganesh Tekdi Temple on Tili Chaturthi, when the Panchajanya Shree Ram Sevak Dal starts practice for the Ram Janmostav Shobhayatra.

Suraj Ghumare, who is an BE in Electronics and Communication, is the main co-ordinator of the group. While talking to The Hitavada about this wonderful troupe, he said, “Right from childhood, I along with some of my friends would participate in the Shobhayatra by pulling the main chariot of Lord Ram. We got in touch with the management and members of Poddareshwar Ram Mandir. One day two years ago, when we met Puneet Poddar, Trustee of the temple, he spoke about the idea of adding Shankhnaad to the procession and we immediately got thinking.”

Ghumare discussed the idea with Suraj Armarkar, Natikesh Wankar, Prateek Chambule, Dilip Agashe, Lalit Ahirrao, Ritesh Tale, Hemant Araspure, Mayur Suryawanshi, Piyush Pathrabe, Haresh Paware, Vedant Mishra, Sagar Bansod, Jay Askar, Ravi Chavhan, Vinod Lekhankar, Chetan Basaiyye, Shikhar Dixit, Prateek Waghmare and Aniruddha Pathrabe and soon a core committee was formed to implement the idea. “We had big challenges before us, as the idea was new, finances were low and so we took our parents into confidence,” informed Suraj.

Suraj’s father, Atmaram Ghumare, along with Seshrao Pathrabe and Vitthal Gaidhane, went to Jagannath Puri to know more about conch blowing as it is a regular feature at the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra.“We were surprised that only 10-11 people of ISKCON blew Shankh during the Rathyatra. The main market for Shankh was actually Kanyakumari and so we travelled to Kanyakumari. We purchased 45 Shankhs from there at a cost of Rs 55,000 for the group,” Atmaram said.While some members of the group arranged the conches on their own, some even borrowed them for two months from a shopkeeper at Geeta Mandir.

“In the first year, i.e. 2017, we were 168 members. Soon we started practicing Shankha Chakra, Shankha Rath and Shankha Taal. At first, it was difficult to find the rhythm and the basic training was tedious. Internet came to our rescue in finding tunes from aartis and Mahabharat that could be recreated,” Suraj Ghumare informed. He further mentioned, “The appreciation and winning the first prize during 2017 Shobhayatra doubled our enthusiasm and in 2018, the number of performers increased to 351 main players and 150 others. The others played other traditional instruments, carried flags and the Panchajanya Rath which was beautifully decorated by Rakesh Pathrabe.”

Suraj Armarkar informed that the group is now 500-people strong, including 351 Shankh blowers, among which 75 per cent are engineers, 3 per cent are doctors, 15 per cent are school-going boys and the other 7 per cent are self employed. The group has members from Nagpur, Kalmeshwar, Katol, and a good 20 people from Umrer.It is well-known that conch blowing has medicinal benefits and Prateek Chambule is testimony to it. “Shankh blowing has cured my respiratory problems, increased my stamina and improved the digestive system. It is a great exercise for urinary tract, bladder, lower abdomen, diaphragm, chest and neck muscles,” he said.He also noted that blowing of a Shankh enhances positive psychological vibrations in a person such as courageousness, determination, optimism and will power.

“This is a good practice that has started in at least 351 households which wake upto the soothing sound of the Shankh every day,” he added.The group members are hopeful that they would grow in numbers and there would be 500 conch blowers in the city by 2019. They mentioned that people often come to them with blank cheques, requesting for a performance. They have been invited by SCZCC to perform at Delhi. But have taken a pledge to perform just once a year during the Poddareshwar Ram Janmostav Shobhayatra and, if given a chance, during the Republic Day Parade at the Red Fort.With so many people blowing the Shankh at a time, a record cannot be far away.
But these group members are spiritually driven and are happy with the first prize they have been getting during the Poddareshwar Ram Janmotsav Shobhayatra. Prabhu Ki Krupa, Bhayau Sab Kaju, Janam Hamara Sufal Bha Aaju... is their mantra.