“Some people just have it in their blood,” said Bharatbhai, one of 12-year old Gaurang’s mentors at Manav Sadhna, as Gaurang rapped his fingers against the sides of the metal dholak, or drum. His head leaned to the left with each beat; his eyes fixed in the distance.
Rhythm, which has manifested in his love for dancing and playing the drum, is in his blood.
Gaurang stays in the children’s hostel at Gandhi Ashram with his younger brother Jatin. His family lives nearly two hours away in the village of Dholka. The distance has been hard for Gaurang and his parents, even after three years of staying at the hostel.
“It’s always hard to be away from my home,” Gaurang says. “But for a good education, my parents say it is worth it.”
For Gaurang, bright and focused in his studies, staying at the Ashramshala hostel has been worth it for more than his education.
“If I have never come to Gandhi Ashram, this opportunity to be in EKATVA would have been lost.”
A naturally talented percussionist, Gaurang hopes that EKATVA will be a step toward his dream of becoming a professional dhol player and dancer one day.
When he was just six years old, Gaurang remembers listening to his uncle beat the dholak for hours during celebrations in their community. He was left in awe by the power of the instrument – the ability to energize the crowd with the simple, rhythmic sound.
He would come home and create his own patterns and beats on an improvised dhol he made from an empty oilcan, encouraging his friends to dance as he drummed his fingers against the metal.
Gaurang’s parents recognized his amateur talent and encouraged him to learn from him uncle. He began lessons, refining his natural dexterity and sense of rhythm.
Through EKATVA, Gaurang has grown to appreciate his talent through dance.
“When I hear the music, I listen to the beat carefully,” he says. “It is easy for me to dance to the rhythm. I understand how the rhythm will go because I play dhol.”
During his vacation from school, Gaurang’s uncle takes him along to play the dhol in wedding processions. Even after of two hours of continuously striking the drum, he doesn’t feel tired.
“I feel energized when I see people dancing to the beat that I’m making,” he says. “I cannot stop, even if I am tired. How can I ruin their fun?”