Five day arts festival celebrates golden jubilee of Bangladeshi independence

The Mukto Arts organisation is celebrating the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence with a five-day Bhatiali Festival.

Mukto Arts is celebrating the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence with a five-day Bhatiali festival, including a project by artist Mukta Chakravarty (pictured). - Credit: Ashim Chakraborty

A Redbridge arts organisation is hosting a five day festival showcasing the sights and sounds of Bangladesh to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the country's independence.

Starting on Thursday (April 29), Mukto Arts will host a virtual Bhatiali festival which will be opened by John Biggs, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets. 

Bhatiali is a classic type of folk music related to river and rural life.

Ashim Chakraborty, the creative director of Mukto Arts

Ashim Chakraborty, the creative director of Mukto Arts and a PhD researcher and lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University has been working to preserve Bangladesh's rich cultural heritage. - Credit: Ashim Chakraborty

Leading researchers from around the world will present six essays on the music's heritage.

The festivities kick off every day at 4pm and will feature musical performances, as well as an exhibition of short films mixed with a live painting by British Bangladeshi artist Mukta Chakravarty, whose project was commissioned by Arts Council England along with a grant from National Lottery.

Ashim Chakraborty, a founding member of Mukto Arts and creative director of the organisation, said its mission has been working to preserve and present Bangladesh’s cultural heritage.

Artist Mukta Chakravarty with her show  Trebeni: The Rhythm of Water at the Brady Arts centre in Tower Hamlets.

In 2019 artist Mukta Chakravarty held a month-long solo exhibition entitled Trebeni: The Rhythm of Water at the Brady Arts Centre in Tower Hamlets. - Credit: Ashim Chakraborty


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He said: "Bhatiali is one of the most significant aspects of Bangladesh’s cultural heritage, which is disappearing.

"We want to present the tradition and musical expression of ancient Bhatiali music of Bengal to the outside world through the writings of renowned writers and researchers of Bangladesh and music and painting in London, the city of multilingual world culture."

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The origins of Bhatiali come from music sung by fishermen and boatmen as they went down stream along the river.

They consist of metaphorical and emotive verses about the water and the men's situation.

Ashim said: "The songs have a strange character. Because they are born on a living river with all her moods, they are not always full of praise for the river. 

"They are honest and real. They also talk of the drudgery of the journey, the treacherous river and its storms and floods."

Mukta Chakravarty will present a series of short films based on a Bhatiali story blended with a live painting. 

As part of the festival artist Mukta Chakravarty will present a series of short films based on a Bhatiali story blended with a live painting. - Credit: Ashim Chakraborty

But he added that a lot of the tales were joyful love stories, because at the time boatmen were the only sources to send and receive information for loved ones across the river.

The festival runs from April 29 - May 3 and will be broadcast on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/880172769443310/.



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