A chowtaal group is made up of two opposing teams which challenge each other in executing the art form based on the theme of the song. The themes vary from serious religious themes revolving around the stories of Lord Raam, Krishna or Shiva or may even include jovial themes where the groups taunt each other with light hearted social commentary.
While the winning Debe-Penal group focused more on the Lord Shiva theme, the similarity in the singing styles of the Trinidadian group and the (other) Guyanese groups was evidence of their common ancestry. It is well known that most of the Indian immigrants originated from Uttar Pradesh in India, so this oral tradition has crossed the oceans and survived the passage of time.
Now in its fourth year, the Sammelan has taken roots and has grown in stature attracting more youth and women. This year once again youths made their presence felt in a strong way as they took leading roles in all the groups. They not only sang but played the harmonium, the drums, the ‘jhaal’ (cymbals) and other percussion instruments maintaining the rhythm and adding to the gaiety of the Chowtaal interplay. The women were not to be outdone either as they stamped their authority with the singing too.
The Chowtaal groups that participated this year were the Prakash group, the Devi Mandir group, the Enmore group and the Debe-Penal group. The Vishnu Mandir did not field a chowtaal group but contributed to the program with a medley of Holi songs. All the performing groups were warmly received by the large and very appreciative audience which applauded every item and offered tremendous encouragement to them.
Among those present at the Sammelan were the Acting Consul Generals of both Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, Sattie Sawh and Kathy Radoo respectively, who presented the trophies and plaques to the participating Chowtaal groups.
Plans for next year’s chowtaal Sammelan are already in place and according to Leila Daljeet the event will be held at the Arya Samaj/Vedic Cultural Centre at 4345-14th Avenue, Markham. For further information on the event contact Leila Daljeet at 905-827-0368 or Mac Gurdial at 905-294-3564.