- Defying stereotypes in tassa drumming
By Rupa Seenaraine
When one hears the mention of tassa drummers, their mind immediately rushes to primarily men. It is one of the many stereotypes buried within society, which chooses to hide women from these roles.
This is not the same for Chandni Jaimangal, an 18-year-old who is passionate about tassa drumming and plays for one of the most popular groups – the Dynamic Tassa Tro
During a recent interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, she related that this journey began about one year ago when she officially joined her three brothers – Navindra, Chanshekhar and Chanderpaul along with the other members of the group.
According to Chandni, making the step of entering a male-dominated field was never strange since she grew up watching her brothers play the drums. Eventually, she too became engrossed with learning the skill, which she has managed to perfect.
“I joined my brothers about a year now. So far, it has been amazing. My brothers were the ones to teach me how to play and I just love the vibe and playing for people.”
For her, making people happy takes precedence and she is especially pleased when persons dance to the music which she has created.
“What I like most is that when I’m playing, people dance and sometimes they have a nice moment. Everybody is happy. As long as you see that they’re happy, I’m happy,” she revealed.
Presently, Chandni accompanies the troupe to all events, sometimes it is weddings and on other occasions, it is to perform for the President at State House. She shared that accepting the invitation to play at State House is one of her most memorable memories.
Another thing she loves about being a member of the troupe is travelling to different locations. So far, she was lucky to visit Essequibo, Wakenaam and Berbice among other places.
“Playing at State House was really amazing. Other than that, I got to travel to Essequibo, Wakenaam and Berbice and hopefully, more opportunities will come in the future.”
Navindra Jaimangal, who is the founder of the group, hinted that other females have expressed interests in joining the group and it is something he looks forward to in the future.
With the right training, he is positive that other girls can join the team successfully.
“My sister is the first female to ever join our group. Many others asked but they are yet to come for training and we would love to recruit more female tassa players to the troupe,” he expressed.
Coming from the community of Windsor Forest on the West Bank of Demerara, his two brothers helped to officially form the group. From 2014 to now, they have evolved to recruit many persons, some of whom have left and others who have enjoyed the company of the troupe. During that process, the name “Dynamic” surfaced and it describes what the group is about – new ideas and invention.
The other members of the team include Subhash Haimraj, Mohan Singh, Deepak Rupchand, Kevin Somwaru, Jagdeo Persaud, Haresh Hanoman, Ryan Persaud and Adesh Rabichand.
“We played tassa for over 10 years now but Dynamic was created in 2014. The name Dynamic comes from the style we play, always finding new stuff to incorporate and new ideas.”
He stated that the group is always open to sharing their talent with other interested youths. So far, they conduct continuous training with persons and then introduce them to the field to give them some exposure.
The group currently has 10 members, and they would alternate themselves to fit the schedule. He is hoping that they can take their skills in Trinidad, where tassa drumming is highly recognized and the competition is intense.
“Usually, a group could play with four. On average, we would have about six. That’s the advantage of having so many members. In the time to come, we plan on going to Trinidad.
We know that there is a lot of competition but it’s good just for the experience and participation,” he explained.
At present, the group is practising for the Dubraj Tassa Competition, which is slated for May 5. Last year, they would have acquired second place and this time around, they are hoping to take the first place.