The conch or shankh has found great significance in Indian mythology. Krishna’s shankh was called Panchajanya while Arjuna’s was named Devadatta. Once they blew their conches during the war, it sent shivers down several spines on the battlefield. More recently, the conch was mentioned at the Indian Science Congress for its meditative properties.
Anay Ashtaputre discovered a conch lying in his grandfather’s house when he was a child. He played with it and later tried to blow it. He eventually made a practice of this and today he can blow the conch shell for up to 20 seconds. He is the founder of Vishnu Naad, a shankh pathak, the first of its kind in Pune wherein a group of people will play only the conch.
“I have been a part of dhol pathak groups before. The prime purpose of a shankh in mythology and ancient times was that it was blown just before war or at the end of it. It has a lot of health benefits. You can build your lung capacity. But, if you don’t do it properly, it can lead to many hazards. The technique is very important. Last year, I was blowing the shankh for the procession of Tambdi Jogeshwari mandal.
This year, I decided to do something different. There are more than 450 dhol tasha pathaks, but no one has ever formed a pathak where everyone is only blowing a shankh,” explains Ashtaputre.
There are 12 people in the group with an equal number of men and women. This pathak is rehearsing vigorously since a month to come up with variations in tunes. Ashtaputre adds, “There are different ways in which the shankh can produce a tone. One technique is like playing a tutari, wherein the sound is loud and clear. The other technique is called spikes. Here, the shankh is blown in gaps to make the sound recurring. And, there is a combination of both these techniques as well. Blowing the shankh has a lot to do with how you inhale and exhale. We are all practicing to holding our breath longer by lowering the head into a bucket of water and staying put for a few seconds.”
Each member in Vishnu Naad is blowing a conch. As a group, they bought their conch shells together for the tone to sound similar. “Almost everyone in the group is using a conch for the first time. It is only the Vishnu shankh that is used as a musical instrument. We have managed to come up with seven different tunes. One is five seconds long, the other is ten seconds long and so on. But, we are thinking of pairing up with a dhol pathak where we can play their tunes and the shankh can be an accompanying instrument.”
This year, for the first time, they will be playing for Tambdi Jogeshwari Mandir on the first and last day of Ganeshotsav. It will be very easy to spot them for they will be dressed in a traditional attire wearing a Puneri Pagadi along with a saffron-coloured jacket that will have an emblem of a shankh behind.
Latest posts by Vijayta Lalwani (see all)
- #OddlyEnough18: Guard Reunites Baby Elephant With Mother And More! - January 1, 2018
- Safety Remains Biggest Concern For Women Say Pune’s Authors - December 29, 2017
- Commemorating 200 Years Of The Epic Battle Of Bhima-Koregaon - December 28, 2017