Sounds of the Forest Echo in Delhi at Unique Music Festival

Aug 6, 2011

New Delhi - The third Lok Sangeet Sammelan began in New Delhi today with mesmerizing performances by artists from the North-East and a folk group from the Sunderbans. Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan, the two-day event aims to celebrate the forest traditions of India. India is home to 70 million hectares of forest and the festival features performances from indigenous communities residing in forest areas. These performance by artists who are farmers and fisherman by occupation, point to a close synergy between communities and forests.

Speaking at the opening of the festival, Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director, UNDP India says “Forests are a critical resource for many people whether its livelihoods, environmental security or as we will see today – cultural traditions and ways of life. For close to one-fourth of India’s population, forests are a lifeline providing income, food, shelter and much more. Therefore, empowering people who depend on and Rewben Mashangva known as the‘King of Naga Folk Blues’ accompanied by his son Saka Mashangva performed at the Sangeet Sammelan - Sounds of the Forests - at IHC, New Delhi. protect the forests is at the cornerstone of our efforts to build a sustainable and inclusive future for generations of Indians. “

Several of the artists at this years’ festival are unique in more ways than one. They are not professional artists and rarely step out of their village or district. As the United Nations celebrates 2011 as the International Year of Forests and August 9 as International Day of Indigenous Peoples, their music echoes with the sound of the forests. The Lok Sangeet Sammelan puts the limelight on the wealth of indigenous knowledge that forest communities represent. The Bastar Band uses folk instruments, rarely seen in the country that are made entirely using natural products available in only in Chhattisgarh. The Bon Bibi legend from the Sundarbans uses the power of folklore to draw connections between people, nature and comments on the need to curb greed. Rweben Mashangva also known as the “King of Naga Folk Blues” reinvented the traditional Tangkhul Naga flute yangkahui and has other instruments to suite a western tonal scale.

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