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Delhi sways to Bangladesh’s tunes

Delhi sways to  Bangladesh’s tunes
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The Bangladesh High Commission celebrated Bangladesh at the Indian Habitat Centre in the Capital from Thursday to Friday. The numerous people who filled the stein auditorium experienced not only one form of expression but many. Together, at the same time, we were all a part of poetry, music, dance, drama, recitation, expressions and Tagore! The Commission had gathered a rather gifted troupe from Shadhona, led by prominent dance proponent, Lubna Mariam from Dhaka showcasing the brilliance of the Bengali performing traditions from Bangladesh for the evenings!

The first day of the event saw From Finite to Infinite: The Spirit of Bangladesh. From Finite to Infinite, or Atma theke Paramatrna, was a presentation of the mystic musical- dancing traditions of Bangladesh which inherently believe that the finite body has the potential to realize the infinite creative principle through earthly practices. Through centuries these practices have empowered the common man to think beyond the normative confines of sectarian beliefs. The performances, including Buddhist Charya, Vaishnava Manipuri, Brahrro and Baul, give a historical perspective of the traditions, through music and dance; while reflecting the essence of the spirit of Bangladesh.

On the second day we had Towards Light or Alor pane praner chawla. It is a geeti-nritya alekhya, or presentation through words and movements, that describes the, almost, indescribable journey of our prana, or life force, towards the illuminating light of gyaan or knowledge. It was based on excerpts of songs and poems by Rabindranath Tagore, who himself was continuously journeying towards enlightenment.

Lubna Marium — aesthete, danseuse, dance pioneer, teacher, choreographer and impresario is a pioneering figure in the contemporary South Asian cultural scenario. Daughter of illustrious parents Colonel Quazi Nooruzzaman and Professor Sultana Zaman, Lubna Marium has dedicated a lifetime to the promotion of culture, particularly dance and other performing arts. She is the director of Shadhona — a center for promotion of South Asian performing arts, and principal of Kalpataru — a school of dance, music and arts in Dhaka. 

Shadhona has done some pioneering work in reviving almost extinct dance/martial arts forms – Lathi Khela and Charya dance. Lubna Marium in an interview says, ‘at Shadhona, we have been working on a folk-narrative, and needed movements that better express the narrative. That started me off on a search for indigenous dance forms. I was astonished to find, in Bangladesh, some beautiful performing traditions which included vibrant dance forms - Padmar Nachon, Lathikhela, Jari. We couldn’t just learn these traditions and ignore the practitioners who have nurtured and preserved them with almost no patronage. Thus the ‘Robi Cholo Lathi Kheli’ project started. Similarly, we are working on a Buddhist narrative, which incorporates the ancient “Charyapada” lyrics. Again, I went a-searching and found Charya Nritya - a tantric dance which has its own set of hand-gestures. This led me to researching into the origins of our language of hand-movements. In fact, my interest is in the entire gamut of work dealing with the body-mind connection, on which practices like ‘yoga’ are based.’

Bangladesh of course gave its best! And let’s say, Delhi welcomed Bangladesh with warm hearts.
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