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In tune with the ladies

Swar Kalila Mandal, an all ladies ghumat aarti group from Mapusa have been making heads turn with their spirited performances at homes, temples, and mandals. NT BUZZ catches up with them

Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ

During Ganesh festivities, one of the aspects that always catch people’s attention is the performance of the ghumat aarti groups. With coordination, zeal, and vigour they sing praises to Bappa during his visit. At homes, in temples, and for competitions, groups put in their best.

And this year, an all ladies family ghumat aarti group has been hogging the limelight as they make their way in a male dominated sphere. Swar Kalila Mandal comprising of 10 ladies attired in rich orange and green sarees have been performing at homes, temples, and mandals. The group has performed at Navdurga temple, Aldona; Ganapati temple, Mapusa; and Kallama Mata temple, Merces, so far.

The youngest member of the group is 13-year-old Shrushti Chandaikar who is studying in Class 5, while the oldest members are in their 50’s.

Interestingly, the formation of the group was the idea of a man. “It was my husband Jagdish Rudra Badiger who inspired the ladies in the family to take up this ghumat aarti,” says Aparna Badiger. “He arranged a mentor and also procured the traditional instruments that were needed.”

While Aparna is the lead singer, four others, Priyanka Badiger, Bharti Badiger, Rupali Sutar, and Ankita Parab join in the chorus. And it’s mesmerising to see how the heritage instrument of Goa, the ghumat is being played vivaciously by Savita Badiger, Pallavi Badiger and Shrushti Chandaikar. Purvi Badiger plays the kasale while Sanchali Badiger plays the shamel with élan.

Finding time to practice for this however was a challenge, admits Aparna. “It was a very difficult task to gather the ladies in the family, especially ladies having infants, the office going ones and those who manage their own businesses,” she says, adding that they began practicing a month before the festivities. And their practices would begin when most would go to bed at 11 p.m. and continue till 2 a.m.

To make their look appealing, the group chose to wear sarees and accessorise these with traditional jewellery. “Selecting a saree is always a tough job. We saw many options and finally settled for bright orange one as one of our family member who runs a boutique helped us in finalising. It’s a perfect rich orange saree with a zari border that is very traditional,” says Purvi.

What is interesting to note is that almost all aartis performed by Swar Kalila Mandal have been modified to keep it uptempo and make it sound nice to the ear. “Our ghumat aarti mentor Sagar Naik showed us what dedication is and helped us reach this far,” says Aparna.

And motivated by the response that they have received they are now confident of themselves and of what talent lies within them. “We have been receiving positive and inspiring response from male performers. We feel proud to enter this so called ‘male dominated field’,” says Aparna. “It means we have proved ourselves and our talent is worthy of praise, not just lip service,” adds Savita, while Pallavi, another member pips in: “We are now motivated to better ourselves and take this to a larger scale next year.”

Aparna also echoes this sentiment. “We have now set a plan to participate in competitions and give fierce competition to male dominated groups.”

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