Nagpur: Jhaduram Dewangan, Teejan Bai are the most renowned singers of this style. Ritu Verma who is popular with other contemporary Pandavani singers such as Shantibai Chelak and Usha Barle spoke to Nagpur Today.
Reputed Pandavani singer Ritu Verma is in the city to present Pandavani Gayan at the Orange City Crafts Mela being held at South Central Zone Cultural Centre.
While speaking to Nagpur Today, Ritu Verma said that origins of this singing style dates back to historical times in Chhattisgarh area. Pandavani Singer Teejan Bai who mastered the style was one of the few people who could read Mahabharat in those times. This style is then passed on to their stories generation after generation. She added that Pandavani was earlier performed exclusively by men, however, Teejan Bai changed the picture and began to present Pandavani in her own style.
Without formal education, Ritu Verma has visited and presented her programmes in 16 foreign countries
Ritu Verma told Nagpur Today that she never went to any school nor received any formal education, yet she knows all the 18 Granths of Mahabharat. She claimed that she started learning Mahabharat right from the age of 6 years. Ritu said that her Guru is Late Gulab Das Manishpuri and Late Basant Ram Nayak.
She is since married to Mangesh Kumar who is also the Coordinator of Pandavani Programmes the world over. She has three children, one son and two daughters. While the son is studying in 8th Standard, the daughters are studying in 6th and 4th standard respectively. On an emotional note, she said that her children often get neglected and she misses them all a lot.
Without formal education, Ritu Verma has visited and presented her programmes in 16 foreign countries. These countries include Japan, England (4-times), France, United States of America, Argentina, Germany, Indonesia, London, Malaysia, Sweden etc.
While speaking about the Pandavani style narrating stories or songs of the Pandavas, the legendary brothers of Mahabharat, and involves the lead singer, enacting and singing an episode (called ‘Prasang’) from the epic with an Ek-tara or a Tanpura (stringed musical instrument), decorated with small bells and peacock feathers in one hand and sometimes Kartal (a pair of cymbals) on another.
She said that the Pandavani Gayan presenting includes two poses
1. Bhedmati (Sitting Pose)
2. Kapali (Standing Pose)
Ritu Verma said that she is supported by a group of performers on Harmonium, Tabla, Dholak, Manjira and two or three accompanying singers who sing chorus and provide backing vocals.
Pandavani which is songs and stories of the Pandavas in a folk singing style involving narration of tales from the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata. The singing also involves musical accompaniment. This form of folk theatre is popular in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh and in the neighbouring areas of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.