Today I woke up at 3:00 am to sound of rain pounding on the roof, pouring from the rafters and splashing off the hard, dry desert floor. It is also the day I will sing the last rāga malār shabd in Gurubāni Sangeet.
Rāga malār is a rāga for the rainy season and traveling through these shabds is like driving through a storm. In the desert we anticipate the precious drops of rain that bring green life to our dry world but the rain can also come so hard and fast it is hard to see past the water, and flooding can change the landscape forever.
Rāg malār makes its entrance in Gurbāni Sangeet with a slow, steady chārtāl, like the slow steady rhythm of the rain as it begins to fall. Then the pace picks up with choti teen tāl and builds in complexity as pārtāls are introduced, combining rhythms, creating beauty and drama, displays of grandeur as powerful as lightning bolts and thunderclouds.
The bani of rāga malār describes the state of the seeker and the seasons of the soul journey. The poetry celebrates the showers of blessing, calls out in love and longing or fear of the torrents to come. Like the peacocks and songbirds singing down the rain, the soul sings along.
At least eight different malārs have been remembered in this collection from the memory of tradition. The malār collection concludes with rāgas and blends in sweet, singable songs with tāls like rupak, dādra and iktāl. These delightful melodies are like the gentle rain that continues to fall after all the drama of the storm has passed. What remains is the peace that lingers on a cloudy day, the bittersweet seeing, knowing what has come, what has gone, what has been lost, what has been gained.