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Dhaka Int’l Folk Fest 2017: An exhibition of folk diversity

  • Rajib Kanti Roy
  • 16th November, 2017 12:00:00 AM
  • Print news
Dhaka Int’l Folk Fest 2017:  An exhibition of folk diversity

Bangladesh is truly blessed as the riverine delta’s culture is contributed by hundreds of saints, bauls, sufis, thinkers and philosophers like Lalon Fakir, Hason Raja, Radharomon Dutta, Bijoy Sarker, Shah Abdul Karim, and many other folk bards.


With the variety of folk genres including Bhawaiya, Vatiyali, Murshidi, Kirtan, Maijbhandari, Jari, Sari, Pala Gaan, Bicchedi and Kobi Gaan, the list seems endless. Thus music, particularly folk music, has been deeply rooted with the life and lifestyle of the mass people of this country.

It is the spontaneous expression of their feelings and emotions. Showcasing this rich cultural legacy through the participation of country’s tested folk singers in an international platform is something that can surely spread our cultural influence over the world.


Besides, performances of reputed folk artistes from different continents can bring the sounds of the globe and its cultural diversity to the local music lovers. And that is exactly what happened in the three days (from November 9 to 11) of Dhaka International Folk Fest (DIFF) at capital’s Bangladesh Army Stadium.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith inaugurated the festival through a short opening ceremony as the chief guest.

The opening day’s show started with the performance of some fresh Bangladeshi artistes as the winners of Bauliana, a folk music reality show, presented two songs of Lalon Fakir and Hason Raja.

Eminent folk singer Fakir Shahabuddin made spellbound the audience with his powerful voice by singing some outstanding scores by Durbin Shah, Shah Abdul Karim and a Maijbhandari song of Chittagong.

Then the viewers of DIFF were enchanted by the Latin Samba beats through the extraordinary performance of prominent Brazilian singer Maurício Zumba and his group Sextet. Tenzin Choegyal, a folk legend from Tibet, formed his troupe with a few passionate musicians from different countries and they together brought the melodious flavour of Tibetan nomads. And the last performance on the first day was the fusion magic of multilingual Papon and his band. The young prodigy from Assam felt the warm love as the audience responded to him with applause.

Second day of the DIFF began with the participation of new-age Bangladeshi folk band Baula. Then Arif Dewan, one of the representatives of Manikganj’s rich folk musical legacy, enthralled the Friday crowds with his soulful spiritual songs. Nepali music group Kutumba showed the appeal of authentic sounds from their ethnic acoustic instruments. Pakistan’s Mekaal Hasan Band presented Sufi music and added a new dimension on the stage. Then the born-blind folk genius of Bangladesh Shahjahan Munshi fascinated the audience.  

The second day’s programme concluded with the intriguing show of amazing Punjabi folk music by sibling Nooran Sisters (Jyoti Nooran and Sultana Nooran) explicitly exposing the richness of Sham Chaurasia gharana of classical music.

Concluding day’s programme initiated with the mesmerising performance of country’s famous Pala Gaan duo Shah Alam Sarkar and Aleya Begum. For a few moments fest audience felt the ambience of rural villages through their show. Then the celebrated folk singer Shahnaz Beli enthralled the listeners with her magical voice.

Dhaka music enthusiasts experienced the class of Danish folk music by the fascinating voice and guitar symphony of Mikael Hemniti Winther.

Rastak, the ambassadors of Persian music, amazed the audience with their soothing sounds of Tar, Setar, Daf, Santur, Tanbur and Tonbak.

 Basudeb Das Baul, a disciple from Shantiniketan, captivated the listeners with his genuine expressions on the stage. And the DIFF 2017 came to an end with the scintillating African melody by outstanding Tinariwen.

The most significant part of this year’s folk fest was the participation of a huge number music buffs, more particularly the musical zeal of the young generation from across the city. Albeit presenting all the genres of Bangladesh’s folk music along with the global folk music is impossible within the limited time frame of a three-day fest, but the organisers can think of adding more varieties in the future. However there is no denying the fact that Dhaka music enthusiasts will rejoice the memories of DIFF 2017 for a long time.