Making waves at Korean cultural festival | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 20, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 20, 2007

Making waves at Korean cultural festival

In Conversation with Indra Mohan Rajbongshi

Indra Mohan Rajbongshi (R) receiving his 'Certificate of World Master' from Kim Sung Oak, chairperson of The Association of World Masters for the Exchange of Arts and Culture

Noted folk singer Indra Mohan Rajbongshi represented Bangladesh in the 'World Masters' Festival in Arts and Culture 2007', which is also known as 'The Cultural Olympics' of the traditional artistes from around the world. The first ever of its kind, the festival was held at the 'aT Center' in Seoul, South Korea. The theme of the festival was 'Cultural Unity in Diversity', in which 36 World Masters from four continents -- Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa -- participated. Artistes from 51 countries participated in the programme highlighting their unique cultures and heritage.
The festival marked an epoch for the global development in arts and culture. This unique initiative enabled to form a network of global maestros in arts, and flung the gate wide open to exchange ideas and views among nations and artistes of the world.
The festival continued from October 1 to 5, which was hosted by The Association of World Masters for the Exchange of Arts and Culture/ Korea Master Culture and Arts Exchange Association and supervised by The Organising Committee for The World Masters' Festival in Arts and Culture 2007.
An enthusiastic Ranjbongshi informed, “It's a great honour for me to be considered amongst the 36 world masters. According to the organisers a 'world master' is an acclaimed artiste who has inherited and developed the traditional culture of his/her heritage, and who is acknowledged and revered in his country as an outstanding figure in the field. World masters were awarded with the 'Certificate of World Master'; guests from embassies and other dignitaries attended the festival and congratulated the masters in the opening ceremony.”
On the selection process, Rajbongshi said that the organisers invited the embassies operating in South Korea to recommend the names from their respective countries. Through ministry of cultural affairs, the embassies suggested the names of artistes to be honoured as a world master. “The criteria of the selection process were that the nominated person must be renowned for his contribution to a traditional art form and at the same time a teacher of that art form at a well recognised institute. As the Vice Principal of Government Music College as well as a regular folk singer, I was nominated from Bangladesh,” said the artiste.
October 3 was the 'Asian Day' at the festival in which artistes from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam performed. Alphabetically Indra Mohan Rajbongshi representing Bangladesh was the first world master to perform on the day. Rajbongshi rendered four songs: Majhi baiyya jao re, Shadher lau, Ei je duniya kishero lagiya and If you get time visit Bangladesh, a folk tune written by him.
On the response from the audience, Rajbongshi said, “Prior to visiting South Korea, I made the track of the songs using indigenous instruments including ektara, dotara, mandira, dhol and banshi. The appeal of Bangladeshi folk melodies seemed to awe the Korean audience.”
On his future plan regarding folk music, Indra Mohan Rajbongshi informed, “For the last few years I have been planning a month-long festival that will feature songs of 1000 bards. I've already collected songs of 721 bards. I'm working on others now. Hopefully between 2010 and 2012, I will be able to hold the festival in Dhaka.”

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