Indigenous touch to National Anthem in Meghalaya


Folk instruments and local singers give shape to Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh’s idea of a local flavour to ‘Jana Gana Mana’

The Meghalaya Assembly has given an indigenous touch to the National Anthem ahead of the 50th anniversary of Meghalaya’s Statehood in 2022.

Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh had thought of giving ‘Jana Gana Mana’ a local flavour more than six months ago. The National Anthem sung by non-Hindi speakers to the accompaniment of folk instruments would underline the diversity of the country, he felt.

 

He found in the Shillong-based Lamphang Syiemlieh a musician who could undertake the project. The latter made sure there was no legal or constitutional bar on improvising the National Anthem.

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“I found out the rules and regulations in order not to run into any problems later on. We started working on the project after confirming what is permitted and what is not,” Mr. Syiemlieh said.

 

The improvised National Anthem was played on September 10, the first day of the autumn session of the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly.

“We wanted the National Anthem to have a distinct ring ahead of the golden jubilee of our Statehood. The outcome of the project was up to the expectations – a different sound to the same lyrics and the original tune,” Mr. Lyngdoh told The Hindu.

“I am not sure if other States have done something similar. We would like to think this as a first-of-its-kind experiment,” he said.

Mr. Syiemlieh had tried to have singers from the three regions – Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills – of Meghalaya. But he could not find any vocalist from the Garo Hills because of the COVID-19 situation.

He is one of the 10 vocalists who rendered the anthem. The others include Evanisha Pathaw and Kheiñkor Mylliemngap, known for their flawless Hindi accent.

The traditional instruments used include the ‘bom’, a single-headed large kettledrum played by Banshai Mukhim, the two-string ‘duitara’ played by Haniel Reuel Kharlukhi, the ‘ksing’, a percussion instrument played by Franky Mylliemngap and ‘chigring’, a bamboo stump with strings played by Phrangsngi Wahlang.

The Meghalaya-style National Anthem was recorded at a studio in Shillong.

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