VoW 2019 / Sessions / November 15 / Celebrating 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji : Rendition of Bani
Devotion is connectivity to God, and for this connectivity to be established and felt, we pray and sing hymns or songs in praise of the God. A similar beautiful rendition of Bani was performed in celebration of 550th birthday anniversary of Guru Nanak ji by Professor Nivedita Singh and group, from Punjab University, Patiala, inaugurating of Valley of Words, third edition, in a unique way. The weather being cool and placid, with Bani being performed under an open sky created a magical atmosphere all around.
Guests were offered Rūmal to be worn on their heads before sitting down on their seats, to simply pay respect to Guru Nanak Ji. School students also attended and were sitting in front, full of excitement and curiosity. Following the warm welcome of the performers, the guests were offered a brief background of Gurbani: “Gurbani was introduced as an intricate, prescribed musical system which is being performed for hundreds of years, with traditional Indian musical instruments like Tanpura, Tabla, Veena and Harmonium.”
The Bani began with an ‘Aarti’ from Guru Granth Sahib. Professor Nivedita Singh told that it’s a universal prayer for the whole world.
“The sky above us is like a platter, looking over us. The moon and the sun are like ‘diyas’, the sunlight travelling with the winds is like fragrance, the forests are like flowers, the stars are the pearls of the sky and you are the destroyer of your fear.” Said, Prof. Singh, emphasizing the magnitude of being human and making a very powerful statement with the introduction of the prayer.
The group began with the playing of Tabla, followed by Harmonium, played by Professor Nivedita herself. The very first Raga sung was the ‘Tukhari Raag’, praising the sole glory of the god. Tumhari Raag is a folk tune, which was first incorporated and sung by Nanak Ji himself, also recorded in the holy book, Guru Granth Sahib.
Some of the guests even closed their eyes, completely surrendered to the harmonious melody, feeling the bliss of the moment utterly. Tilang Raga followed consequently, and in between of the singing, several anecdotes were told, among which, captured the essence of the whole event:
“Guru ji used to inform everyone that he was just the bard of the Supreme lord.” Prof. Nivedita Singh commenced. “He said that truth is higher than everything but higher than the truth is True Living.”
Guests were tapping their feet along the splendid rhythm of the music. People appeared to be tranced, and moved their hands and feet simultaneously, feeling the essence of the Ragas employed, and remembering God. This way the event was able to encapsulate the true meaning of spirituality, cosmology and the spirit of celebration with simple yet magical way of the ‘kirtan’.
The last ‘aarti’ revealed another anecdote from Nanak Ji’s life in his ‘Shabd’ where he says that God you have hundreds of forms yet none is visible to the eye.
At the end, the whole group were given specially customized souvenirs from the VoW representatives as a token of appreciation and immense gratitude. Later Professor Nivedita revealed that her group, actually consisted of her research students, who accompanied her willingly all the way from Punjab: Sandeep Singh, Narendra Pal Singh, Aman Lata and Rupinder Singh. This last mention won the hearts of people, and rightfully signified the importance of communion, humanship and humility.
-Megha Chaudhary, St. Stephens College, New Delhi