PEOPLE: Little dholakia

Arnav Chand plays the dholak(indian drum). Picture: SUPPLIED.

The complexity of dholak (Indian drum) playing did not hinder Arnav Chand’s little fingers from giving it a try.

The belief that little children cannot play dholak perfectly was proven wrong by Arnav. Originally from Rambisessar Rd, Sawani, Nausori, he is known as the youngest dholakia in the community.

Arnav, 7, is a Year 2 student at Rambisessar Chaudhary Memorial Primary School, said the beats and nature of dholak attracted him to learn.

“I started playing dholak when I was five years old by myself because no one in the family knew how to play it.”

He said he habitually dedicated his free time to playing the dholak at his community temple.

“When I first decided to learn dholak playing, I had to wait for every Tuesday to attend the Ramayan and play the dholak after the prayer was over.

“Once I got familiar with the tunes and its techniques, one of my uncles gifted me a dholak so now I play it every morning and every afternoon to improve my tunes.”

Arnav was awarded a trophy in 2019 by his community temple Shree Sawani Sanatan Dharam Mandali. He is recognised as the primary asset of the mandali as he is the only “dholakia” in the community.

While many children are moving towards learning Western culture and practices, Arnav is learning his cultural instruments to preserve it.

Arnav’s mother, Achal Prasad, said motivating him to learn the dholak was a good decision because his talent is benefitting the community.

“Before when there was no one to play the dholak, we only had a small gathering so there were no cultural songs played, but now we are having continuous prayer events every Tuesday because of Arnav.”

Mrs Prasad said Arnav’s talent encouraged the younger generation of the community to participate in cultural events.

She said discouraging children from trying may deprive them of various opportunities in life. Arnav acknowledged the support of his community members, parents and deceased uncle in motivating him to learn.

“My community members were very helpful and whenever I made errors in matching with the kirtan tune, they just told me so that I could improve.

“My uncle Ronil Chand supported me while I was practising at night.

“He used to come and tell me to play and whenever I was scared he pushed me by saying: ‘Yes Arnav, You can do it’. Arnav encouraged youths to identify and share their skills and talents as it may benefit the community

“To all the children, follow your heart and if you know you are good at something, then don’t be scared to share it.

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