Freedom through music


While bandh calls marred Independence day celebrations in the region yet another time last week, quintessential Khasi guitarist-singer Lou Majaw grabbed news headlines all over the region once again this year with a re-run of last year’s Freedom Concert, which he said is a form of protest against the bandh boycott calls. Though the venue of Lou’s peace concert in Shillong had to shift to another location, the garage of a musician and not in the middle of Police Bazar as was reported by the media, the show still saw a lot of prolific musicians and bands performing that day. Like the musicians in Shillong, musicians in Guwahati too had got together for a unique jamming session on the city roads. And while the jamming session, held in front of Commerce College in the city, did not have any big stars or celebrities performing as such, the session still managed to garner tremendous response from the public.

I would not prefer to go into the intricacies of both the concerts here for I am more interested in the significance behind the events. As a day, August 15 is of immense significance in the lives of every Indian. The entire country wakes up on this particular day to celebrate their state’s independence. The day is a national holiday in India and widespread jubilation is witnessed amongst people of different religion, caste and creed. Besides the government-sponsored celebrations, people from different walks of life get to together to celebrate their Indianness; it is a day when more focus is given on strengthening the bond of brotherhood rather than on fighting amongst themselves for petty differences.

But the scenario in Northeast India, especially in Assam, is a bit different, with most of the people being forced to stay indoors due to the bandh diktat of the countless militant and insurgent outfits. Thanks to the bandh calls, the very essence of the day is lost and for the people it is another lazy day to while away at home as most people refrain from coming out of their homes to go to work, vehicles remaining off their roads and businessmen and traders downing their shutters. A true ‘celebration’ of our independence.

Rupam Bora, one of the chief initiators of the session, said that the decision to hold the jamming session was fuelled more by a need to celebrate the day than for anything else. “It is a day to celebrate the spirit of being Indians and what better way could be there to do that other than through music?” He adds, “The jamming session stands as real testimony to the power of music. Candles are lit in the evening by the roadside and the entire act results in the creation of a very serene atmosphere, befitting the sanctity of the day.”

The best part of the Freedom Jam in Guwahati was that there are no big names or stars involved in the entire session, and everyone is free to join. “We don’t have any backdrop or logos and the only motive behind organizing this session is to celebrate the day through music, says Rupam.

Though a slight drizzle threatened to prove spoilsport last Sunday evening, there was no stopping the musicians who came out on their bikes and put up the Freedom Banner right in the middle of the pavement across Commerce College. Maybe it was their enthusiasm that did the trick, but even the heaven gods did not let the rain pour and very soon there was a sizeable crowd, comprising mostly of passers-by, who gathered together to watch the musicians. As the musicians kept passing around the guitars amongst themselves, and even among members of the audiences, candles were soon passed amongst the crowd. The session continued till around 9 in the evening by which time the crowd too had started to disperse.

All in all, both the peace gigs in Shillong and Guwahati stand as testimony to the power of music. Here’s hoping that music continues to heal the hurt and erase the wounds!

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Posted on August 23, 2010, in Concerts/ Reviews, Day-to-Day, Musicians/ Bands and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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