The Esplanade Presents ›› Kalaa Utsavam - Indian Festival of Arts › back to home



20 - 29 Nov
7.15pm & 8.15pm

Over 10 days, our concourse artists will explore the beauty of raagas and take audiences on a journey through time and emotions! 

“A raaga is like a text and the musicians have to explain and interpret it.”
the late Ustad Faiyaz Khan
(one of the most influential 20th century hindustani vocalists)

“Ragas are…our emotional expression either through
the instruments or vocals depicting various 'moods'.
This might be seasonal, or…vary according to the time of day…
It will be discordant if the rooster crows at any time other than dawn
or if even the birds chirp en masse any time after dusk.
This is because it will go against nature. So ragas are basically set musical notes attuned with nature.”
Sadya Afreen Mallick


The raaga is the melodic mode that lies at the core of all Indian classical music whether carnatic (South Indian) or hindustani (North Indian).

“Raaga” in Sanskrit means “to colour” or “mood”.
It is an established melodic structure – a particular series of notes
– which the musician fleshes out into a melody, “colouring” it with his musical skill and imagination.

Raagas are performed live.
At raaga recitals, the performer uses the raaga as the foundation on which he improvises, building upon the raaga to vividly evoke different moods.

Raaga recitals are dynamic exchanges.
When playing raagas, the musicians interact with one another and with the audience, improvising and responding to one another’s vibes. A performance’s success depends on how creative a performer is and how well he builds up the desired mood.

Raagas are melodies attuned with the cycle of life.
There are many types of raagas in Indian music. Each raaga is supposed to convey a particular emotion or mood. These human emotions and “moods” are often evoked by the time of day or the season (such as the joyfulness of springtime). Thus many raagas are associated with certain times of the day or seasons when they are best performed for sublime effect.


Particular raagas are made to express and complement particular times of the day. There are morning raagas, afternoon raagas, evening raagas, night raagas and raagas for periods in between! In hindustani music, for example,the early morning raaga “Deshkar”, played between 6am and 9am, has a lively sound. If played at a fast tempo, this raaga will give listeners an early morning boost. The late-night/pre-dawn raaga “Sohani”, to be played between 3am and 6am, has a gentle yearning tone, well suited for the non-sleeper! In carnatic music, the invigorating “Bowli” and “Bhoopalam” raagas are commonly played in temples to “wake the gods”, “Kathamakuthookalam” and “Vasantha” are soothing raagas that can be played in the evening , and the “Neelambari”, “Ananthabhairavi” and “Reethigowlai” are night raagas whose lulling qualities can promote sleep.

There are also different raagas in both hindustani and carnatic music for different seasons. Eg. The celebratory, complex “Miyan Ki Malhar” or “Gaud Malhar” is played during the rainy monsoon season, a joyful time in India where rain is considered life-giving. During winter, musicians play the pensive raaga “Hemant” to reflect the season’s “mood”. Similarly, raaga “Amirthvarshini” is believed to bring rain when rendered.


There are many different raagas that represent different moods or emotions (or rasa). In the Indian theory of Navarasa, there are nine basic emotions or moods including awe, affection, fury, eroticism, heroism, peace and disgust. There are numerous raagas that evoke, express or heighten each mood. Eg. Raaga “Hindol” conveys masculinity with bursting vigour, raaga “Multani” evokes melancholy with tender tones, and the splendid raaga “kalyani”, commonly played at Indian weddings and in Indian cinematic love scenes, evokes feelings of love. Composers of carnatic music have used the raaga “Sivaranjani” and “Sindubhairavi” in devotional songs. Raaga “Atana” is often used to create a mood of heroism or bravery while raaga “Mukaari” evokes depression or sorrow.


by Srinivasa Balachandra (nadaswaram)
& Meenakshisundram Radhakrishnan (tavil)

20 Nov
7.15pm & 8.15pm


by Sridhar (flute) & Trivendrum D Rajagopal (mridangam)

21 Nov
5.15pm, 6.15pm & 7.15pm


by Sandeep Narayan (vocals), Sughosh Pavan (violin)
& Satish Chandra (mridangam)

22 Nov
5.15pm, 6.15pm & 7.15pm


by Jayalakshmi Sugumar (veena) & Pallavarajan (ghatam)

23 - 24 Nov
7.15pm & 8.15pm


by Sridhar (flute) & Trivendrum D Rajagopal (mridangam)

25 Nov
7.15pm & 8.15pm


by Muruga Anand (sitar) & Lalith Kumar Ganesh (tabla)

26 Nov
7.15pm & 8.15pm


by Ravindra Parchure (vocals), Nilesh Gawade (harmonium)
& Santosh Vasant Kamat (tabla)

27 Nov
5.15pm, 6.15pm & 7.15pm


by Srividya Sriram (vocals), Sughosh Pavan (violin)
& Balasubramaniam (mridangam)

28 Nov
5.15pm, 6.15pm & 7.15pm


by Muruga Anand (sitar) & Lalith Kumar Ganesh (tabla)

29 Nov
5.15pm, 6.15pm & 7.15pm



- Folk Traditions Of Rajasthan

by Aakaar Puppet Theatre

20 - 22 Nov

Swaagat! Welcome to Rajasthan!

Enter the ancient kingdom as the performers of this piece perform the piece Swaagat Samaroh to welcome guests from across the world. Take delight in the folk traditions of Rajasthan as Swaagat Samaroh also introduces audiences to one of Rajasthan’s most spectacular forms of traditional puppetry.

A colourful dummy horse (kachhi ghori) dancer escorts guests to their seats and then begins a wonderful celebration in the form of a play. Performances with kachi ghori, body puppets, life-sized puppets, mask puppets and the famed traditional string puppets, brought to life by puppeteers, percussionists, harmonium player, singer and story-teller, will fascinate young and old alike.


26 Nov

Springing from deep-rooted tradition into the vast, infinite space of creative possibilities, AkashA (which means “ethereal or bountiful space”) is a vibrant band that goes beyond the boundaries of tradition and the constraints of culture.

A seven-piece, multi-cultural Malaysian band, AkashA plays more than world music; it plays real music, spurred by the heart and transformed by the merging of the music of four cultures - Malay, Indian, Chinese, and Western.

Hear the sounds of the sitar, guitar, table, gambus, djembe, mridangam, piano and other instruments and elements of jazz piano, Indian raga, Irish folk, American blues, Indian konnukol, Persian music and more woven into a colourful tapestry of sublime music.


27 - 29 Nov

Ghazals, guitar, acid-jazz, sarangi, hindustani vocals, funk, keyboards and raag… these and more all come together in a such a passionate, organic swirl of tones, textures, moods and colours with Advaita’s music that the listener often abandons trying to pin it all down to simply soak in the music.

Named Advaita in reference to ancient Indian philosophy, Advaita is an eclectic fusion band based in New Delhi, India. The members of this outfit come from all kinds of musical backgrounds from rock to Indian classical music, and their various disciplines and backgrounds combine in the most beautiful way to create their brand of contemporary hindustani fusion-blues.

Today hailed as one of the most original and creative sounds to have ever emerged from the Indian underground indie music scene, Advaita has been described as “groundbreaking” and “spellbinding” for its effortless combination of sarangi, tabla and hindustani classical vocals with guitars, drums, keyboards and electronics.

Supported by:

Western Union    Polar

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