Born in the heart of Fakir Lalon Shai’s akhrabari (shrine) at Kundubari, Kumarkhali in Kushtia, renowned folk singer Chandana Majumdar received pure taleem (training) of the mystic bard’s songs from her father, Nirmal Chandra Majumdar, a fourth-generation disciple of Lalon.
The singer is set to perform today at the Dhaka International Folk Fest 2019. In a recent conversation with The Daily Star, Chandana, a teacher at Chhayanaut’s Folk Music Department, talked about the essence of Bangladeshi folk music and her plans for the performance at the prestigious platform.
“Folk songs composed by the Bangladeshi bards remind us of the melody of this soil. They attract us spontaneously,” says Chandana, “As I cannot forget my mother, I cannot forget my soil, the simplicity of people and my search for the soul. Folk music represents these things.”
“When I started realising the philosophical essence of Shaijee’s (Lalon’s) songs, they were deeply embedded in my heart. They constitute the core of our cultural heritage,” said the singer, who will also sing the songs of Radharaman Dutta, Rajjab Ali Dewan, Shah Abdul Karim, along with a few Murshidi numbers at the festival.
Chandana has recently toured Canada, talking her magical folk performances thousands of miles away from her homeland. “My joys know no bound when I represent Bangladeshi folk music heritage abroad,” said the artiste, who grew up in the realm of melody and rhythm, experiencing Shadhusanga (congregation of mystic bards) in her musical family. Bards like Khoda Box Shai, Moksed Ali Shai, Karim Shai, Jhoru Shai and others would regularly come and perform there.
According to her, number of unsung instrumentalists have been keeping our folk melodies alive through Bangla dhol, dhak, dotara, banshi, ektara, tabla, bayan, khamak and khol, among others. Many folk songs and instrumental practices are on the verge of extinction. Proper archival of the songs, research on the genre and patronage of folk instrumentalists are the demands of the time. “One person or a single organisation cannot do this alone. Our collective efforts and cooperation are required for this job”, concluded Chandana Majumdar.