DIPCHAND BIHARI, OP
Bhubaneswar: Folk instruments like dhunkel, kendara, brahma beena, mahuri, todi, singha, ghanti, kubuji, manjeera and jhanz are rare and hardly to be found in the state. Rabi Ratan Sahu from Bargarh district has stepped forward to preserve all folk musical instruments of Odisha at a time when not many people know about them. From 2009, Rabi started collecting all kinds of folk instruments from different districts and till now has gathered over 422 instruments.
Dwelling on his mission and passion, Rabi told Orissa POST, “When I was a kid, I loved listening to folk songs. I even started collecting such songs. But in 2009, I realised that folk instruments were gradually dying. So, I decided to collect all such instruments. Later, I planned to organise an exhibition.” His first collection was singha (a wind instrument made from the horn of the sambar deer).
Rabi has collections of leather instruments, string instruments and wind and metallic instruments. He travels from district to district to collect instruments. “I find it fascinating going from place to place to collect instruments. Sometimes I purchase the instruments and at others I plead tribal people to lend me one if they have two pieces. I have visited Kalahandi, Korpaut, Ganjam, Kandhamal, Sundergarh and Bargarh districts,” he said. Rabi has collected some half-forgotten instruments like the bhalu bansi, khanjani and banam. Informing about these instruments, he said:
“Bhalu bansi is an ancient instrument mostly seen in Bargarh district. The sound which is produced by it is similar to the sound made by deer. Banam is a string instrument used in Mayurbhanj district and khanjani is a cylindrical instrument used by the hermits of Mahima Dharma.” Rabi has been showcasing instruments at many exhibitions. He has created ‘Music Tree’ where many folk instruments are on display. Music
Tree was first displayed in 2014 at Bhanja Kala Mandap in Bhubaneswar. He has also displayed it in New Delhi where he was hugely lauded for his initiative. Sahu is also a dancer and musician. He loves to play the kendara, a wooden string instrument and khanjani.
He has also formed the performing group ‘Adi Dhun’ where tribal artistes from different parts of the state gather to perform. About the dance group, he said, “Not only did I want to bring all folk instruments to the limelight but wanted that tribal artistes should get some much-needed exposure.” For the initiative, he was awarded the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar by the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2015-16.
Presently, Rabi is recording the sounds of the instruments. “Once I record the sounds, I would offer them to be played at an exhibition so that visitors can hear them. So far, I have recorded 70 instruments. I am also engaged in making a documentary