Cultural activists and music enthusiasts in Sylhet attended the 'Radha Raman Utshab-1414' recently. The daylong festival began with a rendition of a Radha Raman song by noted folk singer Chandrabati Roy Burman at the M Saifur Rahman Auditorium.
Convenor of the Radha Raman Utshab, Nurul Islam Chowdhury spoke at the inaugural programme. A competition was held on the occasion. A substantial number of contestants from the Sylhet division took part in the competition.
In the group 'Ka', Samir Ranjan Biswas stood first while Rahul and Poroma came second and third respectively. In the group 'Kha', Abhijit, Chandrika Dey and Zannat Tasnuva came first, second and third respectively. In the group 'Ga', Rakhi Basak, Sipa Das and Nima Chandra stood first, second and third respectively while in the open group, Mridul Dev, Kalpana Chanda and Mohan Roy came first, second and third.
Professor Mridul Kanti Chakravarty of the Department of Drama and Music, University of Dhaka, was the chief guest at the discussion and prize-giving programme in the evening. On the rural bard, Professor Chakravarty said, “Radha Raman songs beautifully combine elements of mysticism with regional nuances of Sylhet. The unique character of this region is well portrayed in his songs. There are scopes for research on his songs, since it is a significant part of our heritage.” Professor Chakravarty also urged the authorities and others concerned to preserve the Radha Raman Smriti Mandir at Keshabpur in Jagannathpur upazila, Sunamganj district.
The speakers discussed on different aspects of Radha Raman songs.
A devoted soul, Radha Raman expressed his passion through mystic music from an early age. Many of his songs remain popular throughout the country. The bard is also considered 'the father of dhamail songs'.
Artiste Chandrabati Roy Burman and Member-Secretary of the Festival Committee, Animesh Roy Chowdhury also spoke on the occasion. A website on Radha Raman was launched at the event.
Later, Radha Raman songs and dances were performed and prizes were given away among the winners of different competitions. Artistes of Sylhet Lalitokala Academy, Nabarun Shilpi Goshthi, Geet Bitan of Sylhet, Spondon Sangskritik Sangstha, Nritya Shilpi Sangstha, Nrityangan, and Arkum Shah Shilpi Goshthi of Sunamganj performed at the programme.
Radha Raman Dutta was born in 1833 at the Keshabpur village, in Jagannathpur upazila, Sunamganj district. His father Radha Madhab Dutta was also a poet. Some of his works are, Bhraman Geeta, Bharat Madhabi, Padma Pura and Suryabrata Panchali. Radha Raman was the youngest among his siblings.
Radha Raman lost his father in his childhood and came across sages, but failed to earn total empathy from any of them. At the age of 50, he became a disciple of a Vaishnav, Kedarnath Bhattacharya of Rajnagar in Maulvibazar district. Out of his devotion for Krishna, Radha Raman set up an ashram at a remote place by the Naluar Haor, where he composed over a thousand songs, which are known as Radha Raman Sangeet.
Mohammad Mansur Uddin in his Haramoni included 51 songs of Radha Raman. Some of his songs are still being recorded and aired on radio and TV. However, many of his songs are yet to be collected and listed.
The rural bard passed away in 1915, but his creations like Bhramar koiyyo giya or Shyam Kalia bandhurey remain classics and are still hummed by many.