‘Delta Tiger’ recalls musical journey

Kali Charan with his harmonium at his home in Koronivia. Picture: RAMA

Singing the bhajan involves singing from the depth of your heart, as itsw aim is for singers to completely immerse themselves in song and become one in their longing for the divine.

And when one thinks of a devotee who has the gift of connecting listeners to the Gods through this devotional songs, one name comes to mind.

Kali Charan of Navasa, Koronivia, Nausori has gained popularity not only in Fiji but abroad as well.

Bhajan lovers refer to the 64-year-old as the “Delta Tiger”.

The retired civil servant and photographer began singing bhajan when he was 19 years old.

He has released four albums with Procera Music and has taken part in many stage shows in Fiji and abroad.

He recalled his musical journey and dedicated his singing talents to his guru, Daya Nand Kanahi.

“I am specialised in tabura bhajan and I mostly sing tabura bhajan,” said Charan.

“I actually started singing at the age of 16.

“That time qawali was popular and liked by many, so inspired by some popular qawali singers that time, I began singing.

“In 1977, at the age of 19, I got married and just before that I switched from qawali to bhajan.”

Charan said his whole family were musical in nature.

“My kaka-dada (uncles) and cousins were part of ramayan and bhajan mandali’s in our village, which I used to take part in as well.

“During those days, there were bhajan mandali’s run in the communities as well.

“So like other communities, we also had a bhajan mandali in our area.

“My guru ji, Daya Nand Kanahi was a member of it.

“When he saw that I had interest in bhajan, he inspired me and showed me the path.

“From there. under his guidance my journey in bhajan began to proper. Charan said he did not switch to any other music as his interest in bhajan grew.

“I was liked by many that’s why I continued singing bhajan.”

Charan has released four albums of his tabura bhajan with Procera Music.

“Two of those volumes are on me only.

“There are two other albums of mine with bhajan singer Santa Prasad. “Apart from that I have taken part in many stage shows and programs.

“I have performed not only in Fiji but in New Zealand, Australia and America as well.”

Charan said he had kept the old singing style of his ancestors alive.

“Old talents or singers whom I look up to are the late Shiri Chand Dhunki from Valley Rd, Vijay Chand, Shiu Sharan Sardaar formerly from Nasole (now residing in Surrey Canada), Shiu Nath from Lautoka and Ashok Kumar from Tavua.

“They have set a path for the bhajan singers, a path which was first set by our ancestors.

“There are some new bhajan singers as well such as Sanjeev from Vatukoula, Jainen, Umesh Sharma from Sigatoka, they sing well.

“There are some other new talents as well who sings well.”

Charan said tabura bhajan was fading away and needed revival and promotion.

“There is a big difference in the way bhajan are sung now and the way it was sung before.

“When tabura bhajan were sung before, the rhythm from tabura was matched with dholak and harmonium and it was sung in such a way that every word was understood by the listener.

“Now bhajans are sung on a fast pace and more musical instruments are used.

“It is sung anyhow with no proper guidance.”

Charan said his concern was that some sing bhajan these days were just for entertainment.

“Bhajan are sung to connect people with god but some singers are now doing it for entertainment.

“It is sad to note that the significance and the purpose of singing bhajans or reciting bhajan are not taken seriously.”

Charan is happy that Ramayan mandali’s in various communities are promoting young talents.

“I have a Ramayan mandali, Shri Ram Navyuwak Ramayan Mandali in Koronivia which has 20 members.

“There are close to 20 children, from kindergarten level to Year 12.

“They attend our mandali programs and that’s when I guide them how to sing tabura bhajan.”

Charan said to improve one’s talent, one had to continue singing.

“Even I learn as I sing.

“The more you sing, the more you learn and your singing talent grows.

“No singer can say that I have learnt everything in music.

“You’ll keep learning new things as you go, no matter how experienced you become in music.”

Charan also urged parents not to deter their children if they had an interest in music.

“Keep motivating them if they sing religious songs and .

“I am happy that there are lots of Ramayan mandalis operating now who are promoting young children and talents.

“I only urge them to choose a mentor who can show them the right direction.

“My message to all who have interest in singing bhajan is that I am always available for them to provide guidance.”

Mr Charan said his wife, children and relatives have always been supportive of his musical journey.

“Without them, I wouldn’t have come all this way.

“Likewise, I urge all to support their loved ones who are in music.”

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