Bengal’s forgotten songs played at Delhi fest

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New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) A two-day cultural festival at the Sangeet Natak Akademi here witnessed group performances of 10 folk songs from West Bengal which have “already vanished into oblivion or are on the verge of it”.

Songs like “Bhatiali”, “Aalkaap”, “Jhumur”, “Baul” and “Gaajona were sung at the festival. They come from a number of regional belts within the state and have been traditionally sung by different social groups.

“Bhatiali”, for instance, is the song of the river when it flows towards the sea. “It was sung by boatmen and produced a beautiful melody,” lead singer Swapan Mukhopadhyay told IANS.

Mukhopadhyay, who leads a seven-member group, also sang “Saari” — another song which was sung in chorus by boatmen to sail against the tide with force.

Sung by the tribal community of the state’s Bankura-Burdwan belt after a day’s hard labour, “Jhumur” is another song forgotten with time.

Other folk songs come from communities such as Muslims from Murshidabad district, devotees of Lord Shiva, Rajbanshis, pullers of bullock carts, and people who spun cloth on a “charkha”.

“There is a need to revive these folk songs and making the youth interested in them through these programmes,” Mukhopadhyay added.

The group performed at “Susanskriti”, a cultural festival of music, dance, drama, puppetry and folk and tribal culture.

The festival, which kicked off with a puppet drama by a Tripura group, is currently going on at Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s national academy for music, dance and drama.

A Sarod recital and performances of Assam’s Borgeets and Carnatic music are lined up for Saturday in addition to a satirical play from Haryana, and Odishi and Bharatnatyam dances.



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