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Chants in a world of stress

Why have Sanskrit chants suddenly become so popular? Are people becoming more religious and heritage conscious, or it marketing hype that's driving a fad? Do tapes like the commercially successful Gayatri continue our tradition of devotional music, or are they seen as a balm for stressed-out lives? We tried to find out. Priya Krishnamoorthy spoke to music shop owners, listeners and recording labels, and compiled a special feature Chants for sale.

Chitravina maestro N Ravikiran was in Bangalore for a end-October concert, and we caught up with him for an interview. He has just released the first tape in his Vintage Virtuosos series, a collection of Navaratri songs, and spoke to us about the concerns that led him to record it. You'll find a detailed review of the tape, and his replies to our questions about 'correctness' and 'completeness' in a music that is so individualistic and improvisation-oriented.

There will be more features and reviews as the month progresses. Keep visiting us, and tell us what you think.

The New Indian Express has invited us to run a column in their Sunday section, and we've been doing that since 24 October. The column appears on Page 2 in all their 13 editions.

S Suchitra Lata

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