Instruments of Odisha

Mahuri

mɔhuri / ମହୁରୀ

Mahuri is a traditional wind instrument belonging to the state of Odisha, India. It is considered a mangala bādya meaning ‘auspicious instrument’ and hence, is often a part of music arrangements during marriages, though it is often found in folk theatres like Rama Nataka and dances like Chhau too.

Here's a humble 40-second clip I recorded long, long ago. This is just to illustrate how it 'sounds'.

Recorded in omni during an actual marriage at a village near Nabaragpur in Odisha. The artiste belongs to traditional musician communities.
Recorded in stereo in the Sahi Jata of Puri during an actual procession of the Jagannatha Temple of Puri. One can hear the amplitude of the notes changing gradually as I move through the group.

I also stumbled upon another Mahuri artiste by the name of Sudarsan Nayak in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Here he plays the tune of the song aja dekhili re nabina bayasi bala (ଆଜ ଦେଖିଲିରେ ନବୀନ ବୟସୀ ବାଳା) written by the 16th-century Odia poet Upendra Bhanja. This tune is traditionally known by the name of todi-paraja (ତୋଡ଼ିପରଜ) in Odissi classical and folk music.

When the song nears its end at 1:45, the ensemble doubles the tempo in a dramatic manner. This is a typical device used exclusively in Odissi music. It is known as a padi (ପଡ଼ି). At 2:15, he switches the rhythm again and does yet another padi in the new beat cycle. The 'swing' is noticeably different. This is a good example of how folk artists intuitively understand musical nuances of the region even though they might be unaware of the terminology associated.

Recorded in omni during a Mahuri performance during Dussehra at Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Recorded in stereo in the Sahi Jata of Puri during an actual procession of the Jagannatha Temple of Puri. One can hear the amplitude of the notes changing gradually as I move through the group.