On 28th of February 2017, keeping up with its tradition, Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), put up a grand annual day function – “Rhythms of the Northeast”. The Event hosted several performers from the Northeastern part of India at Safdar Hashmi Ampitheatre. The show was inaugurated by Simi Malhotra, the newly appointed director of NESPR, who delivered the welcome address. The performers for the annual day were a band from Jamia, Laxanka, a Pangal Cultural troupe from Manipur, a group showcasing lathibari (Stick fighting) from Sontali (a village of Boko area, 70 km from Guwahati, Assam), and the famous Singer from Manipur, Mangka.
The show begun with the ‘Laxanka’ belting out some peppy numbers of both English and Hindi Genre of Rock warming up the crowd for that evening. The next group to take the stage were the Pangal Cultural troupe from Manipur. The Pangal are the Muslims from Manipur who speak Meitei. Like any other minority in the world they suffer a lot in the hands of the majority. It was very heartening to see the Pangal cultural troupe performing a litany of Meitei versions of songs that could reach to the hearts of the audience. In fact, one of the songs that jolted the audience was the Manipuri version of a very popular qawwali which recently featured in the movie ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’.
It was followed by the Sontali Lathibari Group. This group showcased a unique and dying art. Lathibari is an amalgamation of Stick Fighting, a bit of dance, elegant handling of the long stick and performance of acrobatics. The performers were folks who were primarily peasants. It was full of life and zeal and entertained the crowd thoroughly.
The last performance of the evening was that of Mangka, popular singer from Manipur. This performance was marked by that of soulful voice of the singer and the use of traditional musical instruments. She and her troupe enthralled the audience with her musical renderings ending with a group dance where majority of the audience participated.
All the performers of the event were felicitated by the North East Students Association of JMI. The event had a decent turn out of students and teachers of Jamia. Events like this would connect the northeast of India with its mainland.