Sangeet Natak Akademi organizes Rang Swadheenta, to cherish the memories of freedom fighters who laid down their lives to free the country

New Delhi : To mark the celebration of 75  years of India’s Independence, Sangeet Natak Akademi celebrated Rang Swadheenta – a festival to cherish the memories of freedom fighters who laid down their lives to free India from the shackles of imperialism. The festival was held at Meghdoot Auditorium from 27th  to 29th  August , 2022.

Smt. Amita Prasad Sarbhai, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India and Smt. Uma Nanduri, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi graced the occasion with their presence.

This year’s festival was unique in that it focused on folk singing styles. A total of twelve teams and around hundred artists from nine States of India participated in the festival.



Rang Swadheenta showcases folk musical traditions from across the country. The first day of Rang Swadheenta began with Subhash Nagada & Group presenting variations on Keherwa taal and a medley of popular patriotic tunes like Dil diya hai, Jaan bhi denge.

Alha Gayan, performed usually at the end of monsoon, is sung in the Alha chhand. Popular Alha artist Shri Ramrath Pandey began with an invocation to Goddess Durga, and went on to narrate the deeds of bravery by Chandrasekhar Azad.

A Dhimaryai dancer usually plays a handheld Sarangi, who is also accompanied by other musicians. Dhimaryai songs touch upon religious, mythical, social and patriotic themes. The audience was moved by Dhimaryayi performer Chunnilal Raikwar’s lively singing of Leher Leher Lehrawe Tiranga.

The origins of Panduan ka Kada can be traced to 17th century Mewat, which usually centers around episodes from the Mahabharata. Gafruddin Mewati presented a doha on Keechak vadh, followed by a narration of Maharana Pratap’s valour in the battlefield.

On the second day of Rang Swadheenta, Chetan Dewangan narrated the trials and tribulations of Adivasi life, the courage of Birsa Munda and the festivities surrounding the local deities of Jharkhand, accompanied by artists on harmonium, banjo, dholak, tabla, etc.

Oggukatha comes from the compound ‘oggu’ meaning a damarukam (pellet drum) and ‘katha’ meaning tales. Although oggukatha usually centers around Myths and Gods, Gajarla Komuraiah and his fellow artists also narrated the tale of an unsung hero of the Freedom Movement, Shri Ramji Gond.

The Dhadi singing tradition of Punjab was begun by Guru Hargobind to inspire bravery among armed men in the battlefield. Desh Raj Shashli and his fellow artists brought the audience to tears with the narration of the atrocities braved by the martyr, Udham Singh.

Dastangoi is a compound of Persian words ‘dastaan’ meaning a long tale and ‘goi’ meaning to narrate. Pragya Sharma and Himanshu Bajpai are masters of the art of this form of storytelling and the story of Rani Laxmibai did come alive in their sonorous voices.

Artists presented ballads on heroes of the Independence Movement. The presentations of the final day began with Dharmendra Singh’s tribute to freedom fighters in the Ragini style of singing. Ragini is a Kauravi folk song form which is very popular throughout northern India—particularly western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Dharmendra Singh is well versed in many styles of Ragini singing like Aalha, Bahare Tabeel, Chamola, Jhulna, Sohni, Alibaksh and Savaiya etc.

Chandan Tiwari and her fellow artists instilled pride in the audience for the nation with folk songs of Bihar. She began with the Batohiya of Raghuveer Narayan and went on to sing about the sacrifices of Kunwar Singh, ending with a Kajri and Charkhageet based on Gandhi. On the audience’s request, she also sang a Purbi. Chandan Tiwari is a recipient of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar, and is known for singing folk songs in various languages ​​like Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili, Nagpuri, Awadhi and Hindi.

Powada is a rich traditional style of singing ballads popular in Maharashtra. Powada singing has also played an important role in the socio-cultural and political development of the region. Its origin is considered to be from the time of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Devanand Mali and his fellow artists began with a Powada quite aptly in praise of Shivaji Maharaj, followed by their tribute to heroes like Rana Pratap, Bhagat Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai.

Smt. Shailesh Srivastava has gained immense fame through singing folk songs in various languages ​like Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Haryanvi, Himachali, Dogri and Marathi. The programme drew to a close with Shailesh Shrivastava and her fellow artists presenting folk songs of Uttar Pradesh, saluting the martyrs of the freedom struggle.

Aneish P. Rajan, Secretary, Sangeet Natak Akademi extended his heartfelt gratitude to the artists and to all those who made the event a success.


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