Raga On My Sleeves

From Malhar to Kedar and Bhairavi, T-shirts inspired by Indian classical music ragas are dominating the Sawai merchandise this year

For 47-year-old Jyotsna Bhurke, music and art are one. She visualises music, thinks about the colour of different ragas and talks about how some ragas are rigid, dark, soft and romantic. Alumnus of JJ School of Arts, Mumbai, it was just three years ago that this music connoisseur found a way to bring together her passions by making raga-inspired T-shirts.

At the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav, Bhurke was busy unpacking various cartons. Inside, was her collection of T-shirts from her brand raga T-shirts. Bhurke, a Fine Arts graduate, has designed these shirts based on various moods of music. For example, the raga Malhar T-shirt comes in green, blue or white colours and sports a peacock feather motif. "It is very important to see what kind of emotions the raga evokes. Malhar is a very soft raga, that is very suggestive of fresh, new beginnings. A peacock feather is a symbol for the approaching rains and raga Malhar is traditionally sung to evoke rains," explains Pune-based Bhurke.

Eleven ragas can be spotted on these vibrant T-shirts. Priced at Rs 380, they come in various sizes. We even spotted a few people at the festival buying the shirts and wearing them immediately. "They gel so well with the festival's mood," says 23-year-old Ruchi Bhatia, who has come down from Mumbai to attend the festival.

The event, which gathers crowds not only from across India, but from abroad as well, has always been known for its dedication to Indian classical music and artistes. But it is in the last five years that the organisers have started working actively towards gathering younger crowds in addition to the loyal fans of Hindustani classical music. The festival has various stalls relating to Hindustani classical music. From music CDs and DVDs to books based on classical music, the merchandise is flying off the shelf. Even the food stalls primarily serve Maharashtrian food. "We want to make sure that the mood of the festival is unspoilt. Here you will find merchandise, food and conversation revolving only around Hindustani classical music," says Mukund Sangoram, a trustee of Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal, which organises the festival each year.

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