The Drummer Girls Of Dahisar-How 12-year-Old Vainavi Embraced The Playfulness Of The Dhol

“Every time I saw a Dhol-Tasha performance in my locality during festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi, the thunderous sound of the dhol would light up every part of my body. I saw both men and women play the dhol with such joy that it moved something within me. Two years ago, when I turned 10, I told my mother about my desire to try my hands on the dhol. Obviously, my mother was taken aback and her first reaction was, “I do not doubt your capabilities and I know you wish to play the dhol, but how will you manage the weight of the dhol?”

Even though my mother’s concerns were reasonable, I went ahead with it anyway because once I decide something, I have to do it, no matter what., I approached our pathak (community group that performs) and asked if I could join the group. Despite me being the youngest and the first girl who approached them, they welcomed me and I am glad I was not refused just because I was a tiny girl. Everyone in the group was kind, encouraged me and I never felt like an outsider.

I was the only girl in the group and there were times I felt scared as I was not able to pick the beats and manage the weight of the dhol. My first dhol weighed 10 kg that was almost one fourth of my body weight. My entire body would pain and I had developed severe back pain. I would not share about the pain at home as I did not want to upset my parents. I feared that they would tell me to leave playing the dhol.

Eventually, after almost a year of practice, I got comfortable, was able to pick up the rhythm and got used to the weight of the Dhol. During my first performance, my parents felt proud of me and today, they tell me, “Go and play the dhol. You are meant for it. Do not be at home all the time!”

This encouraged me and last year, we were invited to Spain to represent our Indian culture. Our National Anthem was sung towards the end of the performance, we got a standing ovation and it was a proud moment for us. Today, after three years of playing the dhol, I am a confident dhol player and now, I am a senior member of the group where I even teach the new batch.

The dhol to me is the most playful thing that came in my life. All I need to hear is one tap of the tasha and I can play it for an entire day. I urge everyone to try their hand at playing  the dhol to realize how much fun it is.. Playing the dhol is not just a boy’s job and in our new batch, there are more girls and women now than men and boys. Isn’t that a great thing? To all the girls out there, I would like to say – You can do this too! Never give up; if you are passionate about learning to play the dhol,nothing can come your way.”

-As shared by Vainavi, a class 7 student who enjoys belly dancing and loves the company of her three dogs when she not practising playing the dhol.

Photo Credits : Pramod Thakur for Hindustan Times

Words By : Vainavi

Vainavi is a 12-year-old student who enjoys belly dancing, loves the company of her three dogs when she not practising playing the dhol.

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