Durga Puja is incomplete without the rhythm and beats of dhaak, as one yearns to wake up to the distant beats each morning on those four days in the year.
Dhaak is a large barrel shaped instrument made from wood (mainly from the mango tree) that is cut into sizes of about three feet in length. The outer wood is then shaved off and carved into a barrel shaped instrument and the two mouths of the barrel are sealed with hide - the stretching of which determines the quality of the sound produced. The two sticks used for playing on the instrument are also carefully carved/ chiseled out from thin cane or bamboo.
It takes approximately two weeks to make a dhaak as the dexterous process involves thorough drying and intricate hand-work.
Gokul Chandra Das, hailing from the border village of Bidhampally in West Bengal, achieved a major milestone when in 2009 he became the first dhaaki to perform at the internationally famous auditorium, Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles as part of the Ravi Shankar Centre Ensemble, at a show curated by Ravi Shankar himself. He now plays an integral role in tabla maestro Tanmay Bose’s famed musical outfit Taaltantra.
With dhaak being sold at Rs. 10 to 12 thousand (which brings in a profit of approximately one thousand rupees) - though shops quote close to double the price at first, most artisans work on other vocations as well to make a livelihood, as making dhaak is no longer a profitable business.
We like to listen to the beating dhaak, but rarely think that, as the last point says, it is often an uphill task for the people who put so much effort in making them.
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