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Tabla player Anuradha Pal: “I had to develop the gall and conviction to defy societal prejudice”

Tabla player Anuradha Pal's musical journey has been remarkable, not only because she broke social boundaries and records but also because she paved the way for other women to take the stage.

February 26, 2022 / 09:51 PM IST
Recognised by the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Limca Book of Records as the first woman tabla player in India, Anuradha Pal is the recipient of 108 awards and citations. (Image: eShe)

Recognised by the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Limca Book of Records as the first woman tabla player in India, Anuradha Pal is the recipient of 108 awards and citations. (Image: eShe)

While high-schoolers usually look forward to spending their summer vacation enjoying with their friends and family, Anuradha Pal’s heart would beat to another rhythm. Throughout her school and college days, she would do a chilla during her summer holidays – a backbreaking routine of practising the tabla for 10 hours daily for 40 days at a stretch.

The many years of hard labour evidently paid off. Recognised by the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Limca Book of Records as the first woman tabla player in India, Anuradha is the recipient of 108 awards and citations.

She won the ‘First Ladies award’ by the President of India in 2018 for being the first female and youngest Indian musician to have performed at two of the world’s biggest music festivals, Woodstock and WOMAD. Till date, she has performed in 5,000 concerts in prestigious festivals in over 30 countries.

Anuradha’s parents were both accomplished professionals who urged her to excel in studies and sports as well as learn Indian classical music. Many great musicians who regularly visited her home noticed her rhythmic flair and encouraged her to learn the tabla. So, she began learning both Indian classical vocal and tabla at the age of six.