In conversation with the organizer of the Ganga-Jamuna cultural festival, Ghulam Kuddus

Ghulam Kuddus. Photo: Star

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Ghulam Kuddus. Photo: Star

Amid the ongoing pandemic, the Ganga-Jamuna Cultural Festival has captivated audiences for the past 12 days at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA). The festival, which returned after a year on October 1, ends today.

With 140 theater companies and more than 3,500 artists as participants, this year has put forward a diverse program.

The ninth edition of the festival is dedicated to the centenary of the birth of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, at the same time marking the 50 years of the independence of Bangladesh.

“Pay Awaj Pawa Jaye” – a flagship play from Bangladesh – was staged by Theater (Bailey Road) at the National Theater Hall of BSA on opening day. Photo: Star

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“Pay Awaj Pawa Jaye” – a flagship play from Bangladesh – was staged by Theater (Bailey Road) at the National Theater Hall of BSA on opening day. Photo: Star

The Daily Star met the chairman of the Ganga Jamuna Theater and Cultural Festival Organizing Committee, author Ghulam Kuddus, on closing day.

“Although we were unable to host the festival last year, we were looking forward to participating in the event this time around,” Ghulam said. “Considering all, I would say this has been a successful event in the midst of the pandemic. “

Ghulam is also the president of Sommilito Sanskritik Jote. He shares that the pandemic has greatly affected artists from different backgrounds.

“The biggest challenge this year was that in just three months, we fixed everything,” he shares.

“When the pandemic hit, performers were forced to leave town, and for a long time they were away from the stage and rehearsals,” says Ghulam.

“It was difficult because all the festival equipment and props were thrown away. We had to rearrange everything in a short time, including the rehearsals. The artists were quite enthusiastic,” he adds.

Although foreign groups could not join the festival due to visa restrictions, the organizer informed that this year, the largest number of groups participating in the Ganga Jamuna cultural festival have participated to date.

“We tried to bring a wide range of performance this time around, compared to previous years,” he says. “For example the song ‘Dhamail’ by Haor, the dance recital ‘Battle of Bangladesh’ which was first performed in 1972 at the Father of the Nation’s ‘Joliot-Curie Peace Award’ event Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, ‘Gombira’ and the regional chants of Chapainawabganj were new. A Rangamati troupe also performed in their local language. ”

The artists of Prachyanat perform “Circus Circus”. Photo: Star

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The artists of Prachyanat perform “Circus Circus”. Photo: Star

According to Ghulam, the festival boosted the mental toughness of the masses, which has been affected by the pandemic.

“I am also happy that the public respected the health protocols well, and cooperated with us,” he says.

“The festival improved people’s happiness, highlighting the fact that Bangladesh was built with liberal values, free from all kinds of exploitation. To some extent, such cultural awakening helps to instill the idea to the masses, ”he concludes.


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Darcy J. Skinner

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