Baltimore’s Music Guru Honored at Guru Purnima


August 9, 2012

A popular occasion among the South Asian Diaspora, Guru Purnima, an ancient custom of honoring teachers and spiritual mentors, has gained traction in the nation’s capital  

By Sam Prasad Jillella – Special to MyDosti.Com

August 9, 2012

A popular occasion among the South Asian Diaspora, Guru Purnima, an ancient custom of honoring teachers and spiritual mentors, has gained traction in the nation’s capital  

By Sam Prasad Jillella – Special to MyDosti.Com

In the guru-shishya (“teacher-disciple”) tradition of spiritual relationship and mentoring, knowledge, may it be vedic, science, agricultural, musical, or spiritual is imparted through the developing relationship between the guru and the disciple. It is considered that this relationship, based on the genuineness of the guru, and the commitment, and devotion of the student, is the best way for subtle or advanced knowledge to be conveyed. The student eventually masters the knowledge that the guru embodies.

ELLICOTT CITY, MD — Guru Purnima is celebrated mainly by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains.

Purnima, the full moon day of the Hindu month of Ashad (July-August) is believed to be an auspicious occasion to celebrate gurus. This year Guru Purnima fell on July 3.

Set aside as a sacred day to the memory of the guru of gurus, Vyasa, Hindus feel indebted to this saint who authored the Mahabharata, the 18 Puranas, Srimad Bhagavata, and edited the Vedas.

Guru is a spiritual teacher and a mentor who leads his disciple on the path to ‘god-realization.’ In the Vedic tradition the guru is looked upon as God. He could be a guru teaching dance, art, music, songs, singing, lessons of study, anything which can be learned. Many people in real world get success by following the advice and path of their teacher or gurus.

Gautama Buddha took birth, attained enlightenment, delivered his first sermon — all on the full moon day of Ashada. This is an important day for Buddhists.

Each year, thousands of Jains flock to the holy place of Shravasti to celebrate the birth of Lord Sambhavanath, the third of the 24 Jain Tirthankaras. Tirthankara, also said to mean “full moon,” is a metaphorical reference to a state of permanent, perpetual, absolute knowledge of the Soul. A Tirthankara is a human being who in addition to achieving liberation and enlightenment by destroying all his soul-constraining karmas becomes a role-model and leader for those seeking spiritual guidance.  At the end of his human life-span, a Tīrthaṅkara achieves the status of ending the cycle of infinite births and deaths.

Year after year, South Asians living around the world commemorate anew this ancient concept of the Guru.

In Metro Washington, gurus are celebrated with enthusiasm. This year, I attended the celebration held at the Howard County Arts Center (July 14, from 8.00 pm to 11.00pm). The guru honored for his life-long dedication to performing and teaching Indian music was maestro Hamid Hossain of Baltimore.

Indian music Guru Hamid Hossain

Close to a hundred students and friends gathered for an outpouring of love and gratitude through speech and song. 

The program began with welcoming Hossain with blowing of shank (conch shell), and honoring him with flower garlands and aarti, by his students.

Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual, during which, devotional songs of praise are sung, and light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one are more deities. It involves the circulating of an 'aarti plate' or 'aarti lamp' around the image of the deity so the plate or lamp can acquire the power of the deity. The priest circulates the plate or lamp to all those present, and the purificatory blessing passed from the deity’s image to the flame, passes to the devotee.

Following aarti, there were renditions of classical vocals, bhajans, ghazals, tumri, and folk. The artists who performed were Hema Raina, Humayoon Popal, Matthew Poovan, Rubina Uzzman, Nawshin Sultana, Shilpa Raj, Sneha Raj, Sanchari Ghosh, B.K. Singh, Naz Ali, Ramzan Rajani, Raj Sethi, Swati Sharma, Shahin Rajani, Shovik Ghosh, Rehana Ahmed, Mridula Singh, Veena Singh, Tom Poovan, Amir Usman, Narmeen Iftikhar, Nihal Singh, Enayet Hossain, Suleman Azizi, Asmita Nagarkar, Juhi Hegde, Omar Waqar, and Vinay Ramsamooj.

Born in a musical family in Murshidabad, West Bengal, India, Hossain received his tabla, sitar, and Hindustani vocal training from his renowned musicologist father, Ustad Kader Buksh. A civil engineer by profession, but early in his life, he dedicated himself to teaching and propagating Indian classical music, full time. He lived for a while in Bangladesh and worked with Radio Bangladesh.

Hossain moved to the US in the late 70s, inspired by what Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and Vilayat Khan have done.  He began teaching in his basement, in Baltimore, and soon built it into an Academy of Indian Music and Fine Arts (AIMFA) with satellite centers in Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and Ohio.

An energetic and delightful teacher, Hossain was recruited in 1982 by the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to help start the Indian Music Department as part of its ethnomusicology program.

AIMFA and the Performing Arts Department of UMBC have teamed up for nearly three decades to promoting South Asian music and dance through classes, competitions, concerts, and exhibition performances. 

Jugalbandhi Tribute Performance to Guru Hamid Hossain: (Left to Right) Suleman Azizi, Enayat Hossain, Nihal Singh

The annual music and dance competition held on ‘Thanks Giving’ weekend has brought some of the finest talents in Indian music and dance.

Hossain has beautified the musical landscape with his innovative programs, creating vibrant music scenes.

Hossain was awarded by three US presidents, governor of Maryland, mayor of Baltimore, and ambassadors of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Hossain has touched many with his music and mystic.

Click below to view photographs from the Baltimore Guru Purnima Musical Function held on July 3rd 2012:

Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM