Durban - The tabla is most often played by men, but Parusha Naidoo has broken the stereotype to become one of a few female players in the country.

“I get an adrenalin rush when I play this instrument and feel a sense of belonging,” the 31-year-old said.

Naidoo, an IT project coordinator, started playing the South Asian membranophone percussion instrument at the age of 4.

“I was inspired by my grandfather, who also plays the tabla, and my parents, Logie and Marlinie, are also musically inclined,” she said. “When I was 8, I started classes at the Karthigesan Pillay School of Music and loved every minute of it.”

But as the years progressed, some male musicians could not accept that she was playing the instrument, she said. The strong-willed Naidoo did not allow this to distract her and these days she performs at venues around the province.

“There were male tabla players who undermined my capabilities, but others helped and inspired me during my musical journey. I never allowed anyone’s opinions to get the better of me.”

Naidoo, who has performed in India, Singapore and Bali, said she might have come a long way but she was still learning.

“There is no end to learning music and gaining knowledge. This is why I have remained a student at the Karthigesan Pillay School of Music.”

She said she felt motivated watching others perform and that she drew inspiration from tabla player Zakir Hussain and mridangam player Palghat Ragu.

Apart from enriching her soul, music has taught her discipline. “To me, playing the tabla is like having a conversation with God. I am immediately elevated to a spiritual plane and there is no better high.”

Naidoo, of Queensburgh, has been invited by musician Kannan Veeramani to perform in Chennai in December and in Mauritius in January.

Her message to the youth, especially young girls, is: “Don’t be afraid to pursue the art of playing the tabla. There are no boundaries to music. However, be prepared to break a nail.”

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