|Other names||Shahnai, Shenai, Sahanai, Sanai, Shenoy, Shanai|
The shehnai is a musical instrument, common in Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is made out of wood, with a double reed at one end and a metal or wooden flared bell at the other end. Its sound is thought to create and maintain a sense of auspiciousness and sanctity and, as a result, is widely used during marriages, processions and in temples although it is also played in concerts. The shehnai is similar to South India's nadaswaram.
This tubular instrument gradually broadens towards the lower end. It usually has between six and nine holes. It employs one set of quadruple reeds, making it a quadruple reed woodwind. By controlling the breath, various tunes can be played on it.
Frequently, the instrument's flared open end is made of metal while its body is made of wood or bamboo; however, they are not exclusively made in this fashion.
Another theory of the origin of the shehnai is that the name is a modification of the word "sur-nal". The word nal/nali/nad is used in many Indian languages to mean pipe or reed. The word "sur" means tone or tune--musical note or simply music--and is used as a prefix to the names of many Indian instruments. The "sur-nal" is said to have given its name to the "surna/zurna" which is the name by which the reed-pipe is known throughout the Middle East and eastern Europe. Shehnai is usually played at traditional North Indian weddings and is associated with the bride leaving her parental house for her husband's house. Sometimes, two shehnais can be tied together, making it a double shawm similar to the ancient Greek aulos. Another such plausible theory is that Emperor Aurangzeb did not like the playing of pungi in his court as it had an unpleasant sound. After it was banned, a barber from a family of proffessional musicians improved by taking a long pipe and making seven holes in it. When it was played in Aurangzeb's chambers, he was delighted by its music. As the revived pungi was played by a 'nai' in the chambers of 'shah', it got its name 'shehnai'.
Whereas the counterparts played in West Indian and Coastal Karnataka are indigenous to the territory. Shenai players were/are an integral part of Goan/Konkani and temples along the western coast and the players are called as Vajantri and they were allotted lands for services rendered for the temples.
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