While various festivals have found representation in the world of classical music, with Holi being one of the foremost in which colours characterise the seven sounds and vice-versa, Diwali has very few compositions and representations in classical music system.
Of the extremely scarce pieces, flute maestro Pannalal Ghosh, a disciple of Ustad Allauddin Khan of the Maihar gharana, created a raag named Deepawali. Many musicians have called it a raga sung as a combination of ragas Yaman and Lalit, playing around with madhyams (taken away from Yaman, it’s sung like that of Lalit). But Nityanand Haldipur, who learned from Ghosh, disagrees.
“Pannababu Ghosh, my guru, created the raga somewhere around 1946 and it is misconstrued as Yaman and Lalit and the play on madhyam. It’s the moorchhana raag (where one keeps the notes of the raga constant but changes the location of sa (shadaj)) of Puriya Kalyan,” says Haldipur.
For the not so discerning but avid listeners of music, it creates an aura of the morning, with odes to the gods who represent Deepawali. The raga hasn’t trickled down so popularly as it could have for it is “a gharana trademark” and not many would want to attempt.
Jaipur Atrauli gharana vocalist Ashwini Bhide Deshpande had sung it in 2013 at one of her concerts on the eve of Diwali. “Deshpande’s rendition of the is one of the few ones I have seen,” says Haldipur.
The raga has found resonance in the Carnatic system too. Popular Carnatic classical vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan has rendered a Meera bhajan in this raga, while Vidushi Nagavalli Nagaraj sings Bhajare Raghuveeram, an ode to Lord Rama by saint and composer Sadasiva Brahmendra.