Interactive drumming sessions in India, in general, have been gaining traction in recent years, drawing attention to the vibrant rhythmical traditions of the subcontinent. Even though we predominantly use an African percussion instrument the djembe, the rhythms we end up paying on them are usually Indian culturally specific grooves. Why? Because that’s what’s in our blood, in our cultural percussion inheritance! While the concept might seem novel to some, the essence of communal drumming is deeply rooted in Indian culture. People coming together to drum to celebrate a good harvest, a deity or a festival is not uncommon. In this blog, we delve into the phenomenon of Indian drum circles, exploring their origins, significance, and their place in contemporary society.

The Traditional ‘Drum Circle’ Tradition

This was usually a gathering of individuals playing percussion instruments in a circle. This has been a part of various cultures worldwide for centuries. In India, communal drumming has a rich history dating back to as long as I can remember. Traditional Indian percussion instruments like the dhols, tashas, tabla, dholak, chenda, dhak, and mridangam have long been used in spiritual ceremonies, cultural festivals, and social gatherings.

Rebranding as Indian Drum Circles

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in communal drumming experiences, often called drum jams or  “Indian Drum Circles.” This rebranding aims to celebrate the diverse rhythmic heritage of India while embracing all the new-age learnings that are associated with drumming. The learnings are actually as ancient as the tradition of drumming itself but the way it’s packaged for the audiences who participate in these drumming events is where the magic of Taal Inc. is. So, it really doesn’t matter what instruments we use or even what rhythms we play. What matters is the feeling, thought and realization it sparks when we drum as a team and mkge towards the goal or objective of the session. 

Connecting Cultural Drumming Traditions

The fascination of playing Indian rhythms in Drum Circles builds upon existing cultural drumming traditions, seamlessly blending elements from diverse regional practices.

The number of times we play the nasik shil rhythm in our drum circles or traditional folk songs on the djembe shows that we are all connected. Regardless of where we come from, we are all one. Our Punjabi Dhol culture, Dhak drumming traditions and Chenda drummers are all further proof thereof. By embracing diversity and inclusivity, Indian Drum Circles serve as a bridge between different communities, fostering unity and cultural exchange.

The Drum Circle Event Experience

Attending a drum circle in India will feel like an Indian Drum Circle event because of the rhythms we will be playing. But then again, so many Indian rhythms can be found in traditional African countries and vice versa. There’s a common rhythmic language that’s orchestrated using different instruments. This is what I call a sensory journey filled with pulsating rhythms, infectious energy, and a sense of community. Doesn’t matter where you come from, participants gather in a circle, each armed with a percussion instrument – be it a djembe, tabla, or conga. Under the guidance of a facilitator, they engage in rhythmic improvisation, creating spontaneous musical dialogues that transcend language and cultural barriers.

The Quest for the Best Drum Circle Experience

I think that the best drum circle is a drum circle that happens regularly, is open to the community, is based on knowledge, is one that’s open to learning and becoming better, is supportive of each other and is here to serve its participants. People today seek out gatherings that offer a balance of authenticity, inclusivity, and creativity: a drum circle is the best possible option for such audiences. Whether it’s a sunset drumming session on the beaches of Goa or a moonlit gathering in the lush gardens of Jaipur, or a drum circle in dear park of Delhi, each drum circle event offers a unique opportunity to connect with oneself, others, and the rhythmic heartbeat of India.

In conclusion, Indian Drum Circles are nothing but groups of people drumming together. Whether it’s a group of people participating in a religious ‘Satsang’, procession drumming associated with festivals or people participating in a monthly Taal Inc. community drum circle, it is all a part of something that has existed since before us and shall continue to, for long after us as well… So, the next time you hear the beat of the drum, join the circle and experience the magic of rhythmic unity first-hand… Check out our social media pages to know more about a djembe workshop or community drum circle happening near you.

Come. Drum. Be One. 
Varun Venkit
Team Taal Inc.