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Mungal Patasar


Mungal Patasar

Born in Trinidad in 1946 of parents who had emigrated from India before Independence, Mungal first learnt the intoned singing of ancestral prayers – the ragas which are modulated as the singer improves around a precise musical grid. From the time he was eight years old, curious and eager to explore the mysteries of this music, he began to try out the instruments: the harmonium, the centuries-old dholak and dhantal, the clarinet, the mandolin. By instinct. By ear. He finally chose the king of all instruments, the sitar.

At the same time, Mungal took courses in social medicine in order to dedicate part of his time to bettering the living conditions of his community. But this did not stop him from keeping an ear tuned to the musical movements developing around him.

In search of his roots, Mungal set off on a long yet fruitful journey around India. He went to Calcutta, to Agra and to Benares.

This pilgrimage of initiation, that took him to the very places where the most ancient classical music in the world was born, proved to be decisive for the future: before becoming a master, one must humbly study with those who hold the keys to the kingdom.

During my stay in India, I discovered what the expression “to work yourself to the bone“ meant. After eight hours of daily sitar exercises, the toughest skin gives in.

I understood that once I returned home I had to regenerate the ancient art of the raga by exposing it to the Caribbean rhythms. My music is holistic in its essence, but pluralistic in form.

Quite apart from his musical accomplishments, this former Mastana Bahar winner is our acting director of culture with our Ministry of Culture.