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Art adda at Chowrasta

- Arena for political bouts gets new colour

Darjeeling, May 25: Chowrasta, Darjeeling’s promenade that has seen one too many rallies of late, had musicians, artists and poets milling around this weekend.

A Darjeeling-based NGO, Life and Leaf, organised the adda, or ghamghat in Nepali.

The event, held on Saturday and Sunday, was called Jamghat and attracted local people as well as tourists.

Minket Lepcha, the marketing head of Life and Leaf that promotes local artisans, said the Jamghat was aimed at fusing young minds with old crafts. “We wanted to provide a creative platform to local artistes and musicians and this is how Jamghat happened,” he said.

Chowrasta had been more of a venue for political programmes in recent years. It has been the venue to Bimal Gurung’s and Mamata Banerjee’s meetings.

Of late, the Chowrasta’s green cover seemed threatened when private contractors started marking trees to cut them down and make way for a market complex for displaced hawkers. On May 22, Darjeeling residents stopped contractors from marking trees at Chowrasta.

Today at the Jamghat, poets Manoj Bagota, Nima Sherpa and Pradip Lohagun mesmerised the crowd with their lines in Nepali, Lakit Lepcha and Deoashish Mothey surprised the audience with their performance with pontong palit and esraj. “Pontong palit is a flute like instrument of the Lepcha community and Lakit is the only female playing this instrument now,” said Minket.

Deoashish Mothey, another participant, said: “Esraj is a Persian musical instrument introduced by Rabindranath Tagore at Santiniketan.”

The long forgotten song of the Gurung community, Ghatuseri Geet, was also sung by Amir Gurung from Sikkim.

The event was supported by a group of artisans who had come up with an animation on the Nepali warnamala (alphabets) — a method to teach vowels and consonants to children.

Songs, which are part of the animation, were sung by children at the event.

As the songs were being sung at the main square of Chowrasta, six artists were seen painting in another corner. Pankaj Ghosh and Pravin Gurung were engrossed in painting the Kanchenjungha. Paul Bhutia was drawing the picture of a meditating Buddha. In another corner, 10 organic tea farmers were seen promoting hand-rolled tea. The farmers were from Chottapubung, 35km from here.