Gold turns pure through test of fire. When the core of conscience burns, it shimmers like dazzling diamond. Fifty years back, the gems and jewels of our cultural arena took a bold step to celebrate Tagore's birth centenary in 1961 -- against the backdrop and staunch opposition of Ayub Khan's military government. Two years later, the outcome of that emboldened step gave birth to Chhayanaut Sangeet Bidyaytan. Chhayanaut is not just a music school or cultural hub of this part of the world; rather an unsullied name of embracing Bangla, Bangaleeana, Bangalittwo and Bangladesh -- a well-disciplined cultural organisation of diffusing knowledge, sagacity and sage and a visionary pioneer of upholding national conscience, spirit and literary and cultural essence.
Marking the Golden Jubilee of the school, artistes, students, teachers, alumni and several golden sons of this soil who planted the seed of cultural conscience in 1963 reminisced on the fond memories of the 50 years' journey. The opening day (January 31) of the two day celebration programme featured a musical procession, reminiscences and offerings of songs and dances.
Artistes of Chhayanaut, attired in orange and green, paraded the street adjacent to the Bidyaytan. With the pulsating beat of dhol, mondira and harmonium, they first rendered the national anthem and marched forward with the colourful musical procession with placards that read “Shobarey Kori Ahoban Esho Anondito Pran”, “Manush Hou Manush Hou”, “Bishwa Manob Hobi Jadi Shwashoto Bangalee Ho”, “Mora Bidhatar Moto Nirbhoy” and more. Jubilant artistes danced to the songs “Dhono Dhanno Pushpa Bhora”, “Ebar Tor Mora Gang-e”, “Mora Jhonjhar Moto Uddam”, “Kolokolo Chholochholo” and “Manush Hou”.
Following the procession, the artistes performed two choral Tagore songs “Buk Be(n)dhe Tui Dara Dekhi” and “Sangho Shoron Tirtha Jatra Poth-e” that set off the performance at Chhayanaut auditorium. President of Chhayanaut, Deshikottom Dr. Sanjida Khatun recalled the 50-year journey of the school, highlighting contributions of many artistes and cultural personalities in achieving the glory of the school. The eminent artiste also elaborated on various course curricula that the Bidyaytan offers at present.
“If there is music all around, the mind is enlightened. This is prerequisite to peace. I hope all concerned with Chhayanaut will sincerely and passionately materialize the objective of the school,” said Sanjida Khatun. Noted artiste Iffat Ara Dewan reminisced on the golden days and later rendered two Tagore songs.
In his speech, veteran journalist and cultural personality Kamal Lohani underscored the contributions of Chhayanaut in achieving the autonomy movement and independence. “With the 50 year journey, Chhayanaut Bhaban has now become a cultural memorial,” he remarked.
Noted singer Milia Ali presented a popular Tagore song “Amar Hiyar Majhey Lukiye Chhile” while renowned artiste Papia Sarwar passionately performed another popular Tagore song “Tumi Kon Kanoner Phuul”.
A Chhayanaut gold medalist and noted Nazrul Sangeet exponent Sadya Afreen Mallick mentioned the surname -- “Suruj” of Waheedul Haque. “We altogether have matured under the light of that “Suruj” (The Sun) and Sanjida apa's able guidance. I was emotionally charged while attending the rally and remembered how we had previously rallied several times under the guidance of our Gurus to collect fund for the flood victims, during the Probhat Feri on Ekushey and more. Chhayanaut has made us learn how to become good human beings; how to become a pure Bangalee. I hope you all will become not only artistes but cultural activists,” she said. She also paid rich tributes to her Gurus Sheikh Luthfar Rahman, Sohrab Hossain and others. She later led the audience in rendering two songs “Manush Ho Manush Ho” and “Joy Houk Joy Houk”.
Artistes of Rabindra Sangeet Department superbly performed two choral songs – “Hingshaye Unmotto Pritthi” and “Jago, Jago Rey Jago Sangeet” – while artistes of Nazrul Sangeet Department sang choral songs “Sabuj Shobhar Dheu Khele Jaye”, “Durgam Giri.”
Renowned singer Shaheen Samad also paid rich tributes to her Gurus at Chhayanut while remembering the yesteryears. She later performed “Ajo Kandey Kanone”, a Hameer composition by Kazi Nazrul and a Ganosangeet “Orey Bishom Dooirar Dheu”, composed by Sheikh Lutfar Rahman. Ahsan Murshed, the first batch Nazrul Sangeet student of Chhayanut also recalled his memories.
Khairul Anam Shakil poured his heart and soul while performing the song “Keno Diley E Ka(n)ta”. He also performed a folk genre “Poddar Dheu Rey” on request.
Renowned classical vocalist Rezwan Ali rendered Raga “Puria” at the event, while sitarist Ebadul Huq Shaikat recited awchar alap, vilambit and drut teentaal compositions on south Indian Raga “Bhachaspati”. Based on teentaal, tabla artiste Goutam Sakker presented peshkar, kayda, gaut, tukra, chakradar tukra and rela at the event. Bizon Chandra Mistry played raga Kalavati on nagma.
Singers of Sangeet Dol performed two ganosangeet numbers “Phul Khelbar Doin Noy Addo” and “Himalay Theke Sundorbon” while soloist Laisa Ahmed Lisa, Chandana Majumdar, Shammi Rabbabi, Belayet Hossain and Sharmila Bandopadhyay performed Tagore song, folk song, Atulgeeti, Bharatnatyam and Manipuri dance respectively on the opening day.