February 24, 2015

Bhalubansi- rare musical instrument from Western Odisha, India

Bhalubansi, is an ancient wind instrument (Susira Badya) from Western Odisha. It was one among many rare and dying musical instruments played at recently concluded Luptapraya Loka Kala Utsav [Festival showcasing Dying Regional Arts]. Not just Bhalubansi, but Brahmabeena and Dhunkel were also played as part of same performance.


About Luptapraya Loka Kala Utsav:


This festival was organised by Odisha Sangeet Natak Academy and Department of Culture, Govt. of Odisha from 18-19 Feb 2015 at Bhanja Kala Mandap, Bhubaneswar. Here, rare musical instruments were played and dying dances performed. For more information, visit here.

About Bhalubansi:


'Bhalu' means bear, 'bansi' means flute. This ancient wind instrument (Susira Badya) from Western Odisha sounds like a bear, hence it is named so. Like an ordinary flute, if air is blown, it will not produce any sound. This is a very large, heavy, beautiful, colorful flute and air has to be blown with much force. Thus, new age youth are not learning this from the masters and instead are settling for easier ways of livelihood.

Also, it has traditionally been played in marriages, thread ceremonies, festivals like Dussehra/Diwali etc. and its artists could earn better. But these days, none gives importance to this instrument and so it does not prove to be a good source of livelihood. Therefore also, new age youth are not learning it and it is becoming a slowly-dying or 'Luptapraya' art. In fact, even in Bargarh, its district of origin, the Bhalubansi is today rare.

This instrument was thankfully played in Luptapraya Loka Kala Utsav [Festival showcasing Dying Regional Arts] on 19 Feb 2015 at Bhanja Kala Mandap, Bhubaneswar which made people aware of its unique sound and beauty.


My Experience listening to Bhalubansi:

 

I was completely enamoured by the sound of this instrument. It actually sounded very different- like that of a bear and stood true to its name! I felt sad that such a beautiful instrument was not having takers any more, due to reasons listed above.

Long live Bhalubansi artist Sri Sudarsan Rout (sitting leftmost in the video below) from Bargarh district, Odisha.

Listen to the unique sound of this instrument and may this ancient music always remain alive....




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18 comments:

  1. I never knew our Odisha has so many musical instruments. We tend to associate musical instruments with the north or west and east India gets lesser credit...
    Thanks for sharing the info, Amrita.
    We should have more such events to make the public aware.

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    1. Yes Anita, we are very unaware of the rich cultural heritage of Odisha & India. Eastern India has a great heritage & we must take keen interest in it!

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  2. And what a fascinating sound it makes!

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    1. Absolutely Mridula! Thanks for visiting my blog! Hope U continue doing so! :)

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  3. I've heard about Brahmabeena, but the other two are new to me. Thanks again Amrita...you're doing a great job..(y)..

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    1. Thanks so much Maniparna for your encouragement! Am delighted! :)

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  4. Great post on this instrument!

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  5. Cool!
    Nice to know about these instruments and about the festival that showcases these dying instruments. Let's hope that, that will revive then or keep them alive longer.
    When I read about the Bhalubansi I wondered how it would actually sound. Thank you for the video. It does sound very different from the instruments of its kind.

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    1. Thanks so much! Indeed my purpose of posting the video was this- to let people know about the rareness of its sound! :) Mission accomplished! :D

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  6. This was awesome. Thanks for spreading awareness.

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    1. Most welcome! Wish U gave your name! :)

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  7. Wow . amazing article. Excellent words are used for your article

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