A Resounding Tribute to Pandit Bhajan Sopori

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A Resounding Tribute to Pandit Bhajan Sopori

Sunday, 07 July 2024 | SAKSHI PRIYA

A Resounding Tribute to Pandit Bhajan Sopori

A symphony of strings fills the air as the world unites to celebrate the first World Santoor Day. This poignant tribute honors the legendary Pandit Bhajan Sopori, the “Saint of Santoor,” while ushering in a new tradition that celebrates the instrument’s captivating melody and rich cultural legacy says SAKSHI PRIYA

In an extraordinary celebration of music and heritage, the inaugural World Santoor Day brought the global music community together in a magnificent tribute to the legendary Santoor maestro, Pandit Bhajan Sopori. Hosted by the Sopori Academy of Music and Performing Arts (SaMaPa) last week, this event marked not only the birth anniversary of Pandit Bhajan Sopori but also established a new tradition in the world of classical music. The choice of 22 June for World Santoor Day is profoundly fitting, honouring the 76th birth anniversary of Pandit Bhajan Sopori, celebrated as the ‘Saint of Santoor’ and the ‘King of Strings’. His unparalleled contributions to the Santoor and Indian classical music have left an indelible mark, and this day served as a perfect homage to his legacy.

The evening at Triveni Kala Sangam was nothing short of spectacular. The event featured an impressive lineup of performances by distinguished Santoor players like Pandit Abhay Rustum Sopori and Padmashri Pandit Satish Vyas. The programme included a rich tapestry of Indian classical music, Kashmiri Sufiana and international performances from Iranian, Chinese and Argentinian artists, showcasing the Santoor’s universal appeal. The celebration began with heartfelt tributes to Pandit Bhajan Sopori, followed by a captivating performance of Kashmiri Sufiyana Mausiki by Ustad Shabir Saaznawaz. Maestro Siamak Aghaei from Iran mesmerised the audience with his classical Santur piece, while disciples of Pandit Bhajan Sopori, including Dr Mi Xuanye from China and Guido Estrada from Argentina, added an international dimension with their renditions, all presented via online projector.

The live performances were a testament to the enduring legacy of Pandit Bhajan Sopori. Divyansh Srivastava, a disciple of Pandit Bhajan Sopori and Pandit Abhay Sopori, opened the live segment with a mesmerising rendition of Raga Kaushik Dhwani, followed by a series of intricate compositions in the Sopori Baaj style. Pandit Abhay Rustum Sopori himself took the stage, presenting Raag Jog with a blend of Tantra and Gayaki, accompanied by Ustad Akram Khan on Tabla. The evening culminated with Padmashri Satish Vyas, accompanied by Pandit Ram Kumar Mishra on Tabla, who performed Raag Rageshwari with remarkable finesse, leaving the audience spellbound.

Pandit Abhay Rustum Sopori eloquently captured the spirit of the day, stating, “There couldn’t be a better event than ‘World Santoor Day’ to pay tribute to a legend like Pandit Bhajan Sopori. This day will promote greater appreciation and understanding of the Santoor and its cultural philosophy. Papa’s contribution to the Santoor is immense, and this day will honour his legacy. This day shall not only honour the Indian Santoor but also similar instruments worldwide, such as the Santur in Iran, Santouri in Greece, Yangqin in China, Hammered Dulcimer in America and Cimbalom or Hackbrett in Europe.” Prof. Aparna Sopori, Chairperson of SaMaPa, emphasised the historical and cultural significance of the Santoor, noting, “World Santoor Day will spotlight the rich heritage, historical significance and legacy of the Santoor, or Shatatantri Veena, on a global stage, emphasising its deep roots in Kashmir Shaivism culture.”

The event also saw tributes and wishes from renowned personalities through video messages, including AR Rahman, Kailash Kher, Anup Jalota, Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Vidushi Sumitra Guha, Ustad Akram Khan, Ustad Rafiuddin Sabri, Siddharth Kak, Dr Agni Shekhar, and Utpal Kaul. The presence of many eminent musicians, such as Pt. Rajinder Prasanna, Pt. Chetan Joshi, Pt. Bholanath Mishra, Ustad Asghar Hussain, Ustad Saeed Zafar Khan, Pt. Ajay P Jha, and Pt. Ajay Prasanna, added to the occasion’s grandeur.

Sohrab Sopori expressed his gratitude and vision for the future, saying, “This first edition is being celebrated in cities across India and around the world. We are fortunate to have so many voices come together to mark 22 June as World Santoor Day. From next year, it will be organised in a grander way with more cities and musicians joining hands.” Reflecting on Pandit Bhajan Sopori’s enduring legacy, Pt. Vijay Shankar Mishra remarked, “Pandit Bhajan Sopori’s legacy is great. He was a visionary, keeping things simple yet broad enough to touch the souls of music lovers through his music. His contribution is immense, and Abhay Rustum Sopori is carrying it forward to the next generation. He will always be among us.” Padmashri Pandit Satish Vyas echoed these sentiments, stating, “It is a grand occasion and I am delighted to present my recital here and pay my tributes to Pandit Bhajan Sopori.”

Attending the first World Santoor Day was an experience steeped in both reverence and celebration. The event not only honoured the profound legacy of Pandit Bhajan Sopori but also showcased the Santoor’s rich cultural heritage and its universal resonance. The evening’s performances were a powerful reminder of music’s ability to transcend boundaries and connect souls. As the Santoor’s enchanting melodies filled the air, one couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude for the maestros who continue to enrich our lives with their art. The first World Santoor Day was a resounding success, setting a high standard for future celebrations. It was a fitting tribute to a legend and a testament to the timeless beauty of the Santoor.

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