When Purana Qila grooved to Asean music

With 15 bands from different ASEAN nations and performances by Papon and Sukhbir Randhawa of Bollywood, Delhi celebrated the second ASEAN-India music festival at the Purana Qila

People from all walks of life attended the event

Visitors to the ASEAN music festival that concluded this week had an enjoyable outing except for a few jittery minutes on the last day. Vishal and Shekhar, who were to deliver the finale and were perhaps the most anticipated of the artists, failed to attend the event due to logistical issues. This was a disappointment for the audience as it had eagerly waited for the music duo till the third day.

But much to the audience’s surprise, and last-minute arrangements by the organisers, the replacement for the duo was equally loved and famed, if not more, as Ishq Tera Tadpave singer Sukhbir Randhawa stepped onto the stage. Those who came particularly for Vishal-Shehkhar did not return in disappointment and the event was well-received.

On the third day, when Randhawa performed, the audience remained present in large numbers from the beginning till the end. The first two days saw the audience arrive later in the evening. When the event started on the first day, there were only 50-60 people. However, when the day was concluded, 500-600 people had gathered. The trend was similar on the second day.

An urgent addition to the list of performers due to unavailability of Vishal-Shekhar, Sukhbir Randhawa was welcomed by cheers and nagadas

Also read: Pleasing to eye, not to pocket

The event was attended by college students, children, families, working professionals and working-class people. This is one of the reasons why the artists loved the crowd and anchors said that they “love the Delhi crowd”.

The ASEAN music festival featured countries from the Association of South East Asian Nations, including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The event, which was organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and cultural organisation Seher, witnessed live performances by Tri Minh’s Quartet from Vietnam, Instamuzika from Malaysia, RizerXSuffer from Cambodia, Empty Wallet from Brunei Darussalam and Linying Band from Singapore, among others. The Bayang Barrios from the Philippines, Riau Rhythm from Indonesia, MRTV modern music band from Myanmar and Raghav Meattle and Jonita Gandhi from India are among the featured performers.

Raghav Meattle sang feel-good songs such as City Life and Cold Nights about city dwellers

The completion of 30 years of political and economic union among 11 Southeast Asian nations was celebrated at the historic Purana Qila with five Indian bands and 10 from the ASEAN nations.

Sanjeev Bhargava, the founder director of Seher (a performing and visual arts organisation) in a conversation with Patriot stated that the Purana Qila with the celebration of ASEAN Music Festival has turned into a unifying force.

“This festival is our message to the world that music crosses borders and unifies people from all over the world, therefore the festival gives musicians a platform to foster a deeper understanding of ASEAN and Indian values and traditions,” stated Sanjeev.

“There’s a lot to know, to learn and to celebrate in India and the ASEAN nations. This festival marks the celebration of thousands of years of musical and cultural heritage that evolved in these nations with the passage of time,” he added.

Sanjeev stated that there exists a post-pandemic vibe.

“People want to enjoy their lives, all the big and small moments, they want to laugh and smile and this festival is for them, for everyone who has suffered during the pandemic – to celebrate life and the existence of human kind,” concluded Sanjeev.

One of the performers from Tri Minh’s Quartet – all the way from Vietnam – stated that this festival wasn’t just about music but about the feeling of collective belongingness.

“Our band on stage had Shambhu and Sukriti along with us from Vietnam, and the people who sing together stay together,” he said.

The Tri Minh’s Quartet shared their opinion upon the Indian Music Culture and appreciated that the Indian youth has joined the musical traditions and they know how to appreciate music.

Sanskriti, a student of Delhi University, who visited the event with her friends, says that the vibe of the event was cheerful and festive. A student of second year in college, she stated that the colleges did not hold any fest or event due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“This event acted like a replacement for the festivities in my college. I love that the music festival was held in the heart of Delhi and was easily accessible to everyone around the city. This may also be the reason that we could see such a diverse audience: there were students from various colleges, families, professionals, and people we don’t otherwise see in such events due to the cost of the tickets and other expenses,” she said.

Sanskriti was rather impressed by the free entry in the event which offered such cultural diversity of Asian countries. “The music was good. There were so many talented artists we could not have known had we not visited the event. I really liked the atmosphere and how comfortable everyone was,” she remarked.

The audience enjoyed the performances by Bayang Barrios, Riau Rhythm and grooved to Raghav Meattle’s songs.

Meattle’s songs spanned from feel-good songs about a few stolen moments in the hustle-bustle of city life, aimlessly wandering in the streets of Delhi, to the situations young people find themselves in because of their parents.

Born and brought up in Delhi, he spoke about the site and location of the event as it was very close to his heart.

“Being a student of history, this Purana Qila was one of the historic places I used to visit among the other heritage sites for a walk during my college days,” stated Raghav as the audience rejoiced in appreciation.

The final performance was anticipated. The anchor made sure that the curiosity and the enthusiasm remained for the last performer – an urgent addition to the list.

“We were obviously tired after standing for hours in front of the stage but it wasn’t visible on our faces. We were there with our hands up in the air enjoying every moment of the evening,” stated Ayushman who was returning with his friends from the event.

“It was a whole different sensation for us to be here in India and all we can say and all that we take back to Indonesia is the thought that we love India,” shouted the Riau Rhythm from the stage as the event moved on towards the last performance.

But moments before the last performance, Meenakshi Lekhi, union minister of culture and external affairs was invited to speak at the stage.

Sanjeev Bhargava and Meenakshi Lekhi addressing the audience

“I will speak but just a few words. I saw you all happy and enjoying yourselves and thus I know that the event is a success. We are here to celebrate ancient bonds of trades, religion, culture and music,” stated Lekhi matching her pitch with the dancing audience.

Other members and colleagues from ASEAN were then invited on the stage to make it a remarkable moment, celebrating the cultural ties. The Ambassador of Egypt too was invited on the stage by Lekhi.

Lekhi addressed the members of ASEAN as friends of India as they grooved to the music all along.

Randhawa was welcomed by loud nagadas (drums) and the overall atmosphere turned majestic. Audience reserved the loudest cheers for him because of the Punjabi songs, as other artists either performed mostly in English or regional languages. As Randhawa sang his all-time hit Punjabi songs – famous for weddings and celebrations – the audience switched to bhangda on the beats.

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