Published On : Wed, Sep 2nd, 2015

Cultural shows, folk art should be made more commercially viable, feels Dr. Piush Kumar

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Nagpur: Director of South Centre Zone Cultural Centre Dr Piush Kumar reflects a distinct persona with a rare passion for value-oriented Indian culture. Not only does he emulate this cultural ethos in his routine, he is passionate about the fundamental and distinctive character of our ancient and rich cultural heritage as well.

In an extended exclusive discussion with Nagpur Today, Dr Piush opens his side which has not been seen so far. In an hour long interview he shared his passion, his attitudes, habits, beliefs, background and much more.

Upbringing in a family of teachers
Raised in a family of educationist parents, Dr Piush hailed from middle class family. He did his schooling from Karnal in Haryana which is his native place. As both his parents were teachers, he was ingrained in traditional values, ethics and practices. He went on to do his Graduation in Music in a college in Karnal. He completed his post graduation in first class in vocal music and received a gold medal for his feat. Dr Piush went on to do his Post Graduation in Hindi Literature.  Later he pursued his Ph.D. or Doctorate in Indian Classical Music. He has been actively involved in promoting Indian culture and traditions. Even when he was a student of Masters in Arts (MA) in Hindi Literature, he used to conduct National Level Youth Art and Cultural Competitions independently. Following the footsteps of his parents, he became a lecturer in the very same college in Karnal where he did his graduation. As a lecturer he became a member of Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC-MACAY). His passion led to his becoming the National Chairman of SPIC-MACAY.

Indian Classical Music flows through veins
Dr Piush has got an inbuilt knack for Gharanas that are akin to great Indian classical music. He said that in Hindustani music, a Gharana is a system of social organization linking musicians or dancers by lineage or apprenticeship, and by adherence to a particular musical style. A gharana also indicates a comprehensive musicological ideology. It directly affects the thinking, teaching, performance and appreciation of music. Dr Piush said that in olden days, there were no tape-recorders. So it was in the hands of singers who aped a particular style of a reputed singer and passed it on to the next generation. Dr Piush explained that the word ‘Gharana’ comes from the Urdu/Hindi word ‘Ghar’, which means ‘family’ or ‘house’. It typically refers to the place where the musical ideology originated; for example, some of the Gharanas well known for singing Khyals are: Agra, Gwalior, Indore, Jaipur, Kirana, and Patiala.

His first job in the field of Culture promotion
When the then Governor of Punjab Sidharth Shankar Ray saw his passion, he took him to North Zone Cultural Centre in Chandigarh. Those days terrorism was at its peak in 1988-1989. Cultural activities were at its all time low and nobody had any time to be involved in it. It was at that time, that he revived the Hari Vallabh Sangeet Sammelan which was on a decadent low. This Hari Vallabh Sangeet Sammelan used to be one of the biggest and oldest classical musical festivals which was 135 years old. In 1989, Dr Piush Kumar restarted the classical musical festival once again. Dr Piush said that his tenure as the Director of NZCC was very challenging.

Back to his Alma-Mater
He then returned back to his Alma Mater. He felt that that he needed to do something significant for the promotion of culture of Haryana. While praising the ancient values in naming villages, he said that many villages are named after various Ragas like Madhumati. Most of the villages had the overwhelming evidence of inclination towards classical Raagas in naming the villages, centuries ago.

Nomenclature of Raagas
According to Dr Piush, the rulers of Jind in seventeenth and eighteenth century were mighty supporters of classical music, hence named the villages as per their obvious choices. Baganwala after Bageshri Raag, Bhairu Kheda after Bhairav Raag, Dhingana after a Taal performed at twice of its default speed, Gulkani after Gunkali Raag, Jhanj Kalan after Jhanj Raag, Lalit Kheda after Lalit Raag etc.

Haryana – a land of Sufism
A surprising fact that was pointed out by Dr Piush Kumar is that Haryana is a seat of Sufism. Dr Piush claimed that many versatile erstwhile musicians and big stalwarts of Bollywood are from Haryana. He started his own Non Government Organization (NGO) named Haryana Institute of Fine Arts (HIFA). This organization went on to become one of the biggest cultural and arts promotion centres. The Chief Minister of Haryana was the Chairman of the HIFA.

Indian Culture Forever…
While explaining about how rich our culture is, Dr Piush said that our culture will never die or fade away. A brief period may be present where the modern gadgets and means of entertainment may waiver the attention of the general populace. But the permanent culture and tradition will remain intact and will not get degenerated. He strongly feels that unless we make our folk art, cultural shows more commercially viable, the artisans or artists will not be able to earn a decent and honest livelihood. He shared that he always ensures the old and acclaimed artists are called to perform in the Orange City Craft Mela and other Cutural events organized at SCZCC.

Never untie a Bandhan of culture
Whatever educational career the youth may pursue, they should remain connected with our ancient culture and traditions. It is only then that they can experience a change in them and be proud of their varied and rich heritage, culture and traditions. While explaining the plight of youngsters who are busy aping the western culture, Dr Piush observed, Indian culture is richer than other cultures in various terms and sense. He pointed out that Indian culture teaches ‘Bandhan’ meaning tie-up or unbreakable relationship, which may be seen in respect of Raksha-bandhan, Prem-bandhan, Vivah-bandhan and so on. He was critical of ribbon cutting custom of western culture while inaugurating any event. He advised the new generation to inculcate Indian values and discard western values in terms of abiding by various cultural practices.

– By Samuel Gunasekharan.