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Music band from Mawkynrew wins hearts in city with rustic songs

Ka Sur Na Nongkyndong is making splashes on social media

On January 23, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma tweeted a video with the message, “It is impossible to listen to this group of #Farmers from Meghalaya without grooving with them. Presenting ‘Ka Sur Na Nongkyndong’ harvesting love with music straight out of #Meghalaya!”
The group of farmers that made the audience at The Evening Club dance to its tunes on November 13 last year is from Mawkynrew in East Khasi Hills. With mandolin, guitar, violin and bom (Khasi drum) setting the pace, vocalist Waibha Nongrum ruled the stage as he sang, “Ia song kwai shwa shi kyntien, ha shwa ba ngan leit noh (please pack me a portion of kwai, before we depart).”
The video went viral since the tweet.
“The band members are from different villages in Mawkynrew. Everyone in our village is musically gifted,” said 50-year-old Raison Nongrum of Lynshing village on phone. He is the president of the group.
Ka Sur Na Nongkyndong, which means ‘Voice of The Village’, was formed way back in 2000. Raison and other musicians of Lynshing and its adjacent villages scouted for the best talents and decided to form a band. The oldest member is in his mid-sixties and the youngest in his thirties.
Raison said even octogenarians in the village sing and play on special occasions.
The musicians are from Mawjatat, Nowran and Lynshing villages and none has formal training. The 42-year-old vocalist said he started singing at the age of 20.
“We learned music from our elders. Many men and boys have musical talent and we cannot live without music. The village musical group was originally formed 40 years back and the legacy continues,” Raison said. He too plays mandolin, violin, duitara, guitar and bom.
After Waibha lost his wife nearly 20 years ago, he divided his time between home and music, with the latter consuming most of his time. He plays mandolin and violin and is also the vocalist. All the musicians are farmers and work in the field in the day. Evenings are for jamming sessions. During sowing and harvest season, the musicians barely find time to meet every day.
“Most of us have little or no education but music gives us confidence. Despite the daily drudgery we are always in pursuit of happiness in music. The Evening Club performance was really satisfying as we made all the guests dance,” said Waibha in Khasi. He had just come back from the weekly market in Smit. Raison helped in translating his friend’s words to English.
So far, the band has performed in 200 villages in East Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills. It has also performed in functions, including weddings, in several localities of Shillong. The Evening Club was the band’s first club performance.
Earlier, the villagers made their own instruments using wood from local trees. Now, most of the instruments are bought as wood has become difficult to procure.
Winter is a busy season for the group that gets several contracts for performing at weddings. “We travel a lot during this time. Food and travel expenses are borne by our clients. We will be coming to Shillong again,” Raison said.
When asked about the women in the village and their musical inclination, Raison said most of them are plate dancers. The women too have no formal training in dancing and have naturally picked up the techniques of the traditional dance form of the Jaintias.
The conversation with the two musicians ended abruptly thanks to poor mobile network. Raison said the group needs support so that more talented musicians from the rural areas are encouraged to pursue music.
“We have not got any fund from the government so far as we do not know who to approach. Some financial support would be helpful for all the band members,” said Raison before disconnecting the call.

~ Team Sunday Monitor
Photo sourced

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