ZFM showcases the best of traditional and contemporary arts

[ Yashika Girdhar ]

ITANAGAR, 4 Sep: The land of dawn-lit mountains is all set to host the vibrant Ziro Festival of Music (ZFM) later this month.

The festival is known for bringing together indie artists from across the country, especially Northeast India. Anyone connected to the music scene in India knows how spirited the Northeast is. From teens to adults, everyone is living to a soulful melody in their head and a rhythm in their steps. Arunachal is not behind with its talented set of musicians

who will be taking the audience on a harmonic ride at the festival that makes a comeback after three long years.

“The festival doesn’t just highlight the cultural prowess of the region but is also a great boost to the local economy. I am particularly excited to see all the artists and guests returning to Ziro. It’s been a long wait for all of us,” says Bobby Hano, the festival director.

Local artists performing this year include singer-songwriter Anula Namshum, the multi-talented David Angu – a singer, guitarist, composer, and producer whose band reimagines old folk songs of the Tani tribe, and the Galo pop sensation, Dr Nikom Riba.

Takar Nabam, who will be playing at the festival for the third time now, reminisces, “Ziro Festival of Music will always be special to me because my first performance as a frontman of a band was at the festival in 2015. I remember being very nervous, as this was the first time I was singing my own songs, but it went smoothly and we all had a great time.”

The festival isn’t just known for its cultural vibe, it also provides a great opportunity for music enthusiasts to explore new bands. “Ziro Festival is a place to discover some really interesting artists and that’s something I really like about it. If it wasn’t for the festival, I wouldn’t have come across artists and bands like Japan’s post-rock band Mono, Run It’s The Kid, Gauley Bhai and so many others,” remarks Nabam.

One cannot return from Ziro without appreciating the melting pot of music and arts that beholds one’s senses for four whole days. The dexterity of these bands is a wonder to watch. It also provides local artists the exposure to gauge the international trends in music and represent the indie music space at this important platform.

“The other thing I like about ZFM is that it brings together artists from across the world, and in the context of the Indian independent music scene, it gives Northeast India a sort of leverage and importance, which our music scene doesn’t get from the mainstream independent music scene, although that seems to be changing, albeit slowly.” adds Nabam.

Not just a celebration of music, the festival honours local traditions and tribes. The Daminda dance of the Apatani tribe, who call Ziro home, has been presented as a participatory community welcome dance since 2012, when the festival first began. Over 800 women perform the Daminda dressed in their traditional attire – bilan abi (skirt) and billanw Traw (t-shirt) – bedecked in tyado tasan (necklace) and rwpu kobyan (bracelets) and it is a sight to behold at the festival grounds set against the backdrop of the misty hills and lush paddy fields.

Festival attendees are welcomed into the formation and dance with them. The dance is traditionally performed to celebrate the season of planting the rice seedlings. Lower Subansiri DMO and founder of NGO Ngunu Ziro, Dr Tage Kano highlights the significance of the dance.

“It is one of the main attractions in the Dree festival, which marks the beginning of the rice planting. This dance is accompanied by the prayers for a good harvest.”

Ziro Festival of Music is aimed at bringing the best of Northeast India’s music to the forefront and showcasing it on a global platform. As it returns to the state, gear up for a ride of your lives.

The festival is scheduled for 29 September-2 October. Visit www.zirofestival.com to book your passes and stay.