|The monthly programme is a booster for the members of the group. Photo: Zahedul I Khan
Music that Heals
Music resides in all hearts- young or old, professional or bathroom singers, and even in the heart of the religious fanatic who melodiously recites the holy verses. Yet in the hubbub of modern life it is difficult to give the soul some rest. In Dhaka especially, it is hard to find an activity that will help relive the stress of daily life. Of course, there are adda venues, but for those who want to spend their time a little more constructively, Gaaner Dol Praner Dol could well be the answer.
Gaaner Dol Praner Dol offers the chance to spend quality time singing with a bunch of like-minded people, who come to the small apartment at Dhanmondi Road 28, seeking relief from the daily hassles of life. “The concept of the group has evolved from Satsang or good company which says something good will come out when like-minded people get together,” says Rafi Hossain, one of the founder members of the group. “This is not a institution for learning music,” he adds, “people come here to quench the thirst of their mind. Music acts as a healer here.”
Pakistan-born Bangladeshi, Yasmin Siddique, a new member of the group, narrates that her mother was suffering from psychosomatic depression and while she was visiting Bangladesh, she listened to the songs of a village music group. Tears would flow down her mother's cheek as the group rendered one song after another. A couple of sessions later, her conditions improved miraculously and she was able to move again. This incident moved Yasmin so much that she has decided to take up music even though here it is taught in a different language. Thus when the group learns a song Yasmin writes down the words using Urdu letters be it a Bhairabi kheyal or a Bengali folk song.
“You see no one is a professional singer here. Take the example of 70-year old Shahana Apa, she comes here because she likes the environment. She would often just sit and not even sing,” says Rafi. Shahana Khan echoes his word saying, “Sometimes, it becomes difficult to get back home at night (as the classes are held in the evening), but the love for music makes those difficulties trivial. To me music is almost like therapy.”
Mahmudur Rahman Tuhin, a family man and a NGO worker, had been the member of a number of cultural groups like Udichi, Rabindra Sangeet Shamblen Porishod. Yet he has chosen Gaaner Dol Praner Dol because it matches with his office timing and gives him the flexibility in learning the songs of his choice, while spending time with his wife. “. Both of us get to spend a good time singing together and hanging out here. It has also improved the understanding between us as well as the family life.”
Although the members have to pay a yearly fee of Tk 1,000 and share the tuition fee of the song-teacher and the tabla-player, Kajol, an honours student and a sub-editor of a daily, does not bother about the amount because of the non-competitive friendly environment of the place. “Classes are held every Tuesday and unlike other cultural institutions that never hold missed classes, here we get make-up classes. Another unique thing is every month one member of the group gets the chance to present his/her song in a programme arranged by the group,” she informs.
“The programme expenses like food, decoration and sound system are shared by the members”, says Rafi. So far they have been spreading the particulars of the programme on a word of mouth basis and in-house members present their songs based on themes like Sufism, Folk, Modern Bengali songs etc. However Gaaner Dol Praner Dol has plans to invite outsiders whether aspiring or star singers to participate in their programmes. They also have plans of publishing a CD in an effort to encourage the members of the group in their quest for positive entertainment.
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