The Meghalaya Assembly session which began on Tuesday on an anticipated note, with the rendering of the national anthem. To a mere surprise it stunned everyone with an unusual version of ‘Jana Mana Gana’ one hears every day, but markedly different because of innovative musical arrangement infused with the sounds of traditional Khasi and Garo instruments.
According to Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh, behind the concept of the “indigenous rendition” of the national anthem was, who felt that a “local twist” would reflect the “true diversity” of the country.
“India is a vast and diverse country. I thought doing a rendition of the anthem, keeping its original tune and lyrics intact, would help showcase the rich diversity of our country. It will also provide a platform to showcase talent from the tribal communities,” said 54-year-old Lyngdoh, who is a passionate musician himself.
“All the legislators present in the House were surprised…but also very happy,” he said, speaking about the reception of the anthem, which will also be played on September 17, which is the last day of the session.
For the project, Shillong-based artiste Lamphang Syiemlieh was given the responsibility by the Speaker, who specialises in Khasi folk music. Syiemlieh said his brief was to come up with a version of the anthem which everyone could “understand, relate to and appreciate.”
“It was a huge responsibility. So, the first thing I did was research all rules and legalities related to improvising the anthem. I went through documents with the help of a friend in Delhi, and learned that as long as the lyrics and tune do not change, different vocalisations and instruments could be used,” Syiemlieh, 34, said.
“While on one hand, we upheld the sanctity of the national anthem, on the other, our love and respect for our own local instruments was also reflected in the composition. The result, I think, was beautiful,” he said.